Right Thinking From The Left Coast
The Government is merely a servant -- merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them. - Mark Twain

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dressed To Kill

The ATF has uncovered an assassination plot against Obama.

US government agents say they have thwarted a plan by two conspirators to kill the White House front-runner and shoot or decapitate 102 black people.

The plot is understood to centre on Tennessee where Martin Luther King was assassinated exactly 40 years ago.

Details of the conspiracy were contained in court records unsealed on Monday by members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – America’s specialist law enforcement agency.

ATF agents said they disrupted plans by white supremacists to rob a firearms store and attack a predominantly black school.

According to the ATF, the men planned to go on a killing spree across the United States with Mr Obama, the Democratic nominee who is poised to become the country’s first black president, as their final target.

That’s disturbing enough, but then there’s this:

In separate interviews with investigators, the men said that they planned to speed their vehicle toward Obama while “shooting at him from the windows.” Apparently befitting the historic assault, Cowart and Schlesselman “stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt.”

I wonder if, when these idiots spoke to each other, it sounded like steam escaping…

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 10/27/08 at 03:23 PM in Election 2008  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Obama Opines

As a follow-up to Hal’s post about Drudge’s Latest, David Bernstein offers a (dare I say it) more nuanced view of what Obama thinks.

On the issue of whether Obama endorses redistribution of wealth through the courts, it certainly sounds to me like he thinks the Rodriguez case (holding 5-4 that unequal funding of public schools does not violate the Equal Protection Clause) was wrongly decided, and that state courts that have mandated equal funding for public schools are correct. But he also seems to think that it was a huge error for activists to try to achieve more general redistribution through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (In the waning days of the Warren Court, there was a movement to try to constitutionalize a right to a minimum income.) Co-interviewee Dennis Hutchison even suggests that in pre-interview conversation, Obama agreed with him that Goldberg v. Kelley, establishing procedural protections for welfare recipients, was wrongly decided, or at least promised much more than it could possibly achieve.

What I don’t understand is why this is surprising, or interesting enough to be headlining Drudge [UPDATE: Beyond the fact that Drudge’s headline suggests, wrongly, that Obama states that the Supreme Court should have ordered the redistribution of income; as Orin says, his views on the subject, beyond that it was an error to promote this agenda in historical context, are unclear.]. At least since the passage of the first peacetime federal income tax law about 120 years ago, redistribution of wealth has been a (maybe the) primary item on the left populist/progressive/liberal agenda, and has been implicitly accepted to some extent by all but the most libertarian Republicans as well. Barack Obama is undoubtedly liberal, and his background is in political community organizing in poor communities. Is it supposed to be a great revelation that Obama would like to see wealth more “fairly” distributed than it is currently?

Apparently it is to Drudge, and to anyone else who is desperately searching for some way to derail Obama at this point.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 10/27/08 at 03:05 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Wanted: One Senator

Looks like Alaska just went for the Democrats:

A jury found U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska guilty Monday of all seven counts in his federal corruption trial.

The jury found Stevens guilty of “knowingly and willfully” scheming to conceal on Senate disclosure forms more than $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts from an Alaska-based oil industry contractor.

Stevens faces a maximum sentence of up to to 35 years in prison—five years for each of the seven counts.

Legal experts note the judge has the discretion to give Stevens as little as no jail time and probation when he is sentenced.

First, good riddance.  Stevens is scum, even by Alaska standards.

Second, this is yet another instance of the GOP screwing the pooch.  They could have tossed Steven or defeated him in the primary.  But they stuck by Senator Bridge To Nowhere and now it’s going to put the Dems one seat closer to a filibuster-proof majority.  Unless, that is, the people of Alaska elect the convicted felon and Palin replaces him with an unconvicted one.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 10/27/08 at 02:49 PM in Election 2008  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Everybody Panic On The Metro

Courtesy of Reason:

Metro officials announced today that they will begin randomly inspecting backpacks, gym bags and any other containers that riders carry with them onto the bus and rail system, in an effort to deter possible terrorist attacks.

Beginning today, signs announcing the new program will be posted at each of the rail system’s 117 mezzanines, where faregates are located. Officials said Metro’s program—announced a at morning news conference—was not begun in response to any specific terrorist threat, but was prompted by continuing concerns about transit security and the upcoming election and inauguration of a new president.

They won’t let you on if you refuse.  New York and Boston already have these Constitution-shredding programs.  There’s also this:

If transit police find illegal items such as drugs, the item will be seized and the person will be arrested. But Metro officials today emphasized that the purpose of the search is not focused on drugs or contraband.

Sure it isn’t.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 10/27/08 at 12:40 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Designing A Curriculum

Education in Texas certainly could use some updating.  In fact, one of the reasons I’m moving is because of concerns over the quality of the schools.  I’m not the only one with this concern:

Texas has earned a reputation as an innovation powerhouse in fields ranging from agriculture and life sciences to high technology and space exploration.

But in a report issued this summer, a panel of Texas business, education and government leaders warned that without “critical changes” in state schools — especially in science-related instruction — the state will lose its global competitive edge

You know what’s coming, don’t you?

It appears, however, that some members of the State Board of Education are working on a different agenda. Last week, they appointed three anti-evolution activists, including a leader of the “intelligent design” religious campaign, to a six-member panel that will review proposed new science curriculum standards.

One of these is Donald McLeroy, the head of our Department of Education. McLeroy, in addition to opposing the teaching of evolution, opposes the teaching of anything about global warming—the theory of global warming not just being wrong, but, apparently, anti-American and anti-Christian.  Because we all remember that chapter in Ephesians about God not suffering the Earth to warm.  He is also a big proponent of abstinence-only education.

This numbnuts was, of course, appointed by Rick Perry.  Perry is, in most respects, a decent governor and, I’m pretty certain, has aspirations toward the presidency.  Maybe he’s just trying to mollify the religious nutbags in the party.

Between right-wing morons trying to teach my kids anti-science and left-wing morons trying to teach them wealth redistribution, home-schooling is looking better all the time.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 10/27/08 at 11:08 AM in Religion and Sky Pixies  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Long Night

OK, maybe it will take longer than 2-4 years to fix the GOP.

This Rush Limbaugh monologue is a fascinating document, and should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand one of the most powerful conservative narratives emerging around the looming GOP debacle. For Rush, there are only two kinds of people in Republican Party: True conservatives like him, and “moderate Republicans.” The latter is an ideologically-inclusive category: You can be pro-choice or pro-life, David Frum or Colin Powell, a Rockefeller Republican or a Sam’s Club conservative; indeed, the only real requirement for moderate-Republican status is the belief that the Republican Party needs to reach out to voters who don’t agree with, well, Rush Limbaugh on every jot and tittle of what conservatism is and ought to be. And this inclusive definition allows Limbaugh to shape a narrative of the ‘08 election in which “moderate Republicans” can shoulder more or less all the blame for what’s gone wrong:


The logic is so airtight it’s suffocating. John McCain is a moderate Republican. Some people - the party establishment and the “intellectualoids” - said that only someone like McCain would stand a chance of winning the Presidency in 2008, given the state of the GOP brand. But here we are in October, and John McCain is losing - and worse, some of his fellow moderate Republicans are defecting to Obama. Therefore, not only are all the people who urged the GOP to nominate McCain discredited, but so is anybody else who disagrees with Rush Limbaugh about the future direction of the GOP. Moderate Republicanism had its chance this year, and it failed. The big-tent approach was tried and found wanting. Next time, they’ll listen to Rush if they want to win. And so forth.

Take a step back, of course, and the whole argument collapses. (McCain’s substance-free campaign discredits more reformist visions of conservatism how, exactly? The defection of Bill Weld, blueblood extraordinaire, is supposed to undercut the idea that the GOP should be trying to appeal to middle-class Wal-Mart shoppers? McCain is still going to win the “rank and file, average American Democrats” - it’s only the “hoity-toity” types who are jumping ship? etc.) But read quickly (or delivered with Rush’s customary brio), it has a certain surface plausibility - just enough, I suspect, to be persuasive to the many, many conservatives eager to be convinced that the ‘08 outcome had everything to do with John McCain’s heresies and the treason of the Beltway elites, and nothing whatsoever to do with them.

You can go to Douhat’s site to read Rush’s dialogue.  Or you can just turn him on any afternoon, since I’m sure he’ll be repeating it with more gusto and rhetorical flourishes.

I’m really nervous that the Limbaugh Meme is going to become de rigeur (Ooh, French! Now I’m an elitist!) for the GOP and condemn them to long-term minority status.  This is a party that is increasingly convinced that the Rove tactics worked and it is the attempt to appeal to the Reagan Democrats that has brought electoral failure.  This is a party that is routinely describing entire swathes of America as unpatriotic while it’s opponent takes the opposite tack.  This is a party that increasingly sounds, as WVR noted, as though its adherents are off their medication.

This is not a party that can take back the Congress in two years or the White House in four.  Nor is it a party that can effectively oppose Barack Obama’s dumb ideas.  We’ve got a lot of hard work to do to rebuild conservatism into something not associated with anger, negativism and anti-intellectualism.  We have to rebuild a movement defined by what it is (liberty, small government, free markets, a stable economy) rather than what it isn’t (effete intellectual liberal running dog Marxists who hate America and want the terrorist to win).

Sullivan notes it took a decade for the Tories to stop gnawing on ashes in the darkness and emerge back into power.  We don’t have that kind of time.  The work begins now as we fight to keep the Democrats from a 60-seat hold on the Senate.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 10/27/08 at 06:42 AM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Caught Red-Baited

Drudge is making a big deal about this tape of Obama in 2001 supporting wealth redistribution.  Make you own judgement.

Look, I’m all for bashing up a liberal on redistribution.  But you’re going to have to do better than this to convince me that Barack Obama is a radical Marxist waiting to seize all our money.  This sounds to me like an esoteric discussion about the limits of judicial power, not—as the rather hysterical commentary correctly notes—whether redistribution is right or wrong.  It’s similar to the Joe the Plumber comments, which was about a flat vs. progressive tax, not on some kind of Marxist worldview.

I almost find this discussion reassuring because Obama says that “economic justice”, such as it is, is not the purview of courts.  That’s good, because as long he pursues his ideas through the legislature, we can fight him.  It’s much more difficult to fight judges.

Update by Lee: I feel I must issue a respectful dissent on this issue.  While I agree that this isn’t evidence of Obama being a Marxist or a communist or anything of that nature, I think it is damning in one respect—it shows his proclivity towards socialism.  Liberals in America always speak of the equality of opportunity.  They believe that, given equality of opportunity, everyone will perform at exactly the same level.  Thus when they look at the outcomes of a given policy, and see that minority group X does not do as well as expected, the immediate response is that the playing field must not have been as equal as they originally thought. 

I agree that it is heartening to see Obama think that this sort of thing should not be decided by the courts.  But let’s not kid ourselves, if a major issue comes before the court Obama is going to support it.  To give a parallel example, Andrew Sullivan always said that gay marriage was an issue best left to the states.  However, now that California’s Supreme Court miraculously found a right to marriage that previously didn’t exist (the decision was laughable on its face in terms of legal veracity) he’s greatly in favor of the “No on Prop 8” campaign to keep that decision in place.

Obama may have, in the past, felt this way about the courts.  But in the presidential arena it’s a whole different ballgame, especially considering the way his supporters view him as some sort of demigod who will wipe away the stains of the Bush years and usher us into a new era of enlightenment and peace.  He’s not going to risk that support by saying, “This isn’t an issue which should be decided in the courts.” Sullivan has rightly pointed out that Obama has yet to make a strong endorsement against Prop 8.  He doesn’t want swing voters, many of whom are opposed to gay marriage, to chose to vote McCain on that issue alone.

This recording isn’t conclusive evidence of anything, but it is a clear indicator of what Obama actually thinks, rather than what his campaign has placed on his website.  Mark my words, there will be a tax increase on the middle class sometime between six months and a year after he takes office.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 10/27/08 at 06:33 AM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Self Competition

The old adage about how you’re really only competing against yourself seems to be true.

If struggles over happiness involve clashes between distinct internal selves, we can no longer be so sure that our conflicting judgments over time reflect irrationality or error. There is no inconsistency between someone’s anxiously hiking through the Amazon wishing she were home in a warm bath and, weeks later, feeling good about being the sort of adventurous soul who goes into the rain forest. In an important sense, the person in the Amazon is not the same person as the one back home safely recalling the experience, just as the person who honestly believes that his children are the great joy in his life might not be the same person who finds them terribly annoying when he’s actually with them.

I’m sure those of you who are parents out there can relate : ).

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 10/26/08 at 02:59 PM in Deep Thoughts  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

This Is What Sarah Palin’s Church Really Believes II

The Anchorage Daily News explores Palin’s religious background:

Extreme Christian Nationalists not only believe that the United States was founded as a Christian nation but that its institutions should be run entirely by fundamentalist or evangelical Christians. They believe they have a mandate to purge our institutions of “humanists” who believe that humans are in control of their own destiny, progressive Christians and non-Christians. They believe there are seven areas of society that must be controlled, the so-called Seven Mountains Strategy: church, family, education, government and law, media, arts and entertainment and business.

But hey, at least she’d be safe from witches both foreign and domestic.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 10/26/08 at 02:55 PM in Religion and Sky Pixies  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday Movie Fest

Taking a break from politics for a while, I give you one of the cult classics of the Eighties:

The Hidden (part 1):

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 10/26/08 at 01:02 AM in Fun and Humor  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Saturday, October 25, 2008

One Man’s Bomber…

paul86 directs us to the following clip. Sarah Palin is asked what makes a terrorist. Her response is somewhat telling:

Those of you who still think she’s qualified to be the potential Commander In Chief, please raise your hand.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 10/25/08 at 08:40 PM in Election 2008  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

This Is What Sarah Palin’s Church Really Believes

It makes Reverand Wright seem tame by comparison.

In an interview this week with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, the Republican vice-presidential candidate, was asked to “clear up exactly what you believe in” about her religious faith, including her involvement with Pentecostalism.

Governor Sarah Palin’s faith has come under scrutiny after two videos surfaced on YouTube, including this one from June in which Bishop Thomas Muthee of Kenya prays over her with his hand to her back.

Ms. Palin responded by speaking generally, but extensively, about how she counts on God for strength, guidance and wisdom. “My faith has always been pretty personal,” she said. But she did not talk more specifically about her church affiliation or her beliefs.

Ms. Palin’s faith has come under scrutiny after two videos taken in her former church surfaced on YouTube and became immediate sensations. The first showed a visiting preacher from Kenya praying fervently over Ms. Palin in a gravelly voice and asking God to favor her campaign for governor and protect her from “every form of witchcraft.”

The second showed Ms. Palin at an event in June praising the African preacher’s prayer as “awesome” and “very, very powerful.” She is also seen nodding as her former pastor from Wasilla prays over her and declares that Alaska is “one of the refuge states in the Last Days,” a piece of prophecy popular in some prayer networks that predicts that as the “end times” approach, people will flock to Alaska for its abundant open space and natural resources.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 10/25/08 at 03:15 PM in Religion and Sky Pixies  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Blank Generation

Shades of Total Recall:

Slowly but surely, scientists are getting closer to developing a drug that will allow people to eliminate unpleasant memories. The new issue of Neuron features a report from a group of Chinese scientists who were able to use a chemical - the protein alpha-CaM kinase II - to successfully erase memories from the minds of mice. The memory losses, report the authors, are “not caused by disrupting the retrieval access to the stored information but are, rather, due to the active erasure of the stored memories.” The erasure, moreover, “is highly restricted to the memory being retrieved while leaving other memories intact. Therefore, our study reveals a molecular genetic paradigm through which a given memory, such as new or old fear memory, can be rapidly and specifically erased in a controlled and inducible manner in the brain.”

I can see where this might be useful. There are parts of the last eight years I know I’d like to forget.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 10/25/08 at 02:57 PM in Science and Technology  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Cracked Elections

Just in case you bought the media hype that this is the Worst Election Ever, Cracked Magazine, whose journalistic integrity now apparently exceeds that of our mainstream media, sets you right.

In 1884 the insanely corrupt James G. Blaine ran against the Grover “The Only Thing Anyone Remembers About Me From History Class is that I Served Two Nonconsecutive Terms” Cleveland.

For a while, all that was said of Grover Cleveland was that he was remarkably fat (which was true) until the Buffalo Telegraph published a story detailing Cleveland’s dark history. According to the article, he had an affair with a widow named Maria Halphin, who had borne a child. Suddenly, Cleveland wasn’t fat anymore. He was an adulterous, drunk, bastard-producing bastard with “no business running for president.” (Also, fat.)

The media, ever the short sited and loud mouthed guardian of the political system, took this and ran with it, maintaining that, if elected, Cleveland would bring his “harlots” with him to the White House. Soon, every fatherless child was believed to be Cleveland’s, with mothers everywhere coming out of the woodwork with sob stories. It was getting closer to election time and it looked like Blaine was going to win, even though he was horribly corrupt and inept as a politician, because that was still better than some fat, drunken bastard-machine.

The truth was that Halphin did have a kid. Cleveland didn’t know if it was his or not, but he still paid child support to Halphin regularly, just in case. He never claimed anything to the contrary. But, that story wasn’t as loud and juicy and boob-filled as the story that his opponents were spreading, so it simply didn’t stick.

It almost worked, too. The electoral votes had Cleveland at 183 and Blaine at 182, with New York still left to count. Blaine was the heavy favorite to win New York, while Cleveland was just heavy. And then a miracle intervened.

On Election Day, a remarkably huge rainstorm hit upstate New York, home to tons and tons of Republican voters at the time who, as a result of the pouring, stayed home instead of voting that day. Blaine lost New York and the election.

So, in American Politics, even when one candidate is honest, decent and fit for office, he can’t beat a corrupt, manipulative inept politician for the highest office our country has to offer on his own. He needs a bizarre weather pattern to back him up.

I voted early today, since I will be in Pennsylvania on Election Day.  Turnout was pretty high but somehow I rather doubt this is good for Obama since McCain signs outnumber Obama signs in my neighborhood 20-3.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 10/25/08 at 12:22 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Dixiepubs

Not good news:

To the extent that geography correlates with ideology among congressional Republicans, a major sweep by the Democrats could really be in a position to completely break the gluons that bind the broader party together. The GOP will lose a disportionate number of seats in the Northeast, Midwest and West and keep a disprortionate number of seats in the South. So the remnant of the party, as it were, will be right-wing Southern conservatives.... even more so that it is now.

Is this really what they wanted? For decades the Democrats were identified as the party of the Old South. In the New South, the Republicans managed to gain a foothold by appealing to Southern conservatives, but now they seem to be stuck there without having much left to offer the rest of the country. Welcome to the age of the Dixiepubs. They’ve got no one to blame but themselves, really.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 10/24/08 at 08:47 PM in Election 2008  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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