Archive for October, 2008
31 Oct 2008

Imagining McCain Attack Ads By Hollywood Directors

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The second batch (David Lynch and M. Night Shyamalan) is much better than the first.

I think of myself as a cinemaphile, but I had no idea who Diablo Cody, Jason Reitman, Kevin Smith, and Wes Anderson were. Once I looked them up, I had at least heard of their films.

Second batch: Diablo Cody/Jason Reitman David Lynch, M. Night Shyamalan 4:11 video

First batch: John Woo, Kevin Smith, Wes Anderson 3:18 video

Why not Quentin Tarrantino and the Coen Brothers?

Via LabRat.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

31 Oct 2008

Obama: Love Child of Malcolm X?

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Pamela Geller, I’m afraid, has gone a good way round the bend, with a lengthy, not entirely coherent post, which proposes the dramatic theory that Barack Obama was really the illegitimate child of Malcolm X.

Her basis for all this has to do with Obama’s allegedly being born in Hawaii during a month (August 1961) in which his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, enrolled at the University of Washington for the Fall Semester (Why is this a problem? Does Geller think labor routinely takes all month?), plus some physical resemblance.

There is a fundamental problem with advancing this kind of wild speculative theory with nothing resembling real evidence. Moreover, I’m afraid, I tend to think that if Barack Obama had really been the offspring of Malcolm X, both he and the Dunhams would have been boasting about it all his life, not concealing it.

31 Oct 2008

Just Wait Until Massachusetts and California Hear About This

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Australia news.com.au reports on a breakthrough in human rights underway in Japan.

But how do they find out if Wonder Woman says “I do?”

A Japanese man has enlisted hundreds of people in a campaign to allow marriages between humans and cartoon characters, saying he feels more at ease in the “two-dimensional world”.

Comic books are immensely popular in Japan, with some fictional characters becoming celebrities or even sex symbols.

Marriage is meanwhile on the decline as many young Japanese find it difficult to find life partners.

Taichi Takashita launched an online petition aiming for one million signatures to present to the government to establish a law on marriages with cartoon characters.

Within a week he has gathered more than 1000 signatures through.

“I am no longer interested in three dimensions. I would even like to become a resident of the two-dimensional world,” he wrote.

“However, that seems impossible with present-day technology. Therefore, at the very least, would it be possible to legally authorise marriage with a two-dimensional character?”

Befitting his desire to be two-dimensional, he listed no contact details, making it impossible to reach him for comment to explain if his campaign is serious or tongue-in-cheek.

But some people signing the petition are true believers.

“For a long time I have only been able to fall in love with two-dimensional people and currently I have someone I really love,” one person wrote.

“Even if she is fictional, it is still loving someone. I would like to have legal approval for this system at any cost,” the person wrote.

Japan only permits marriage between human men and women and gives no legal recognition to same-sex relationships.

Gavin Newsome needs to start preparing San Francisco’s City Hall for the ceremonies.

31 Oct 2008

Methane Levels Contradict Global Warming Theory

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TG Daily:

Scientists at MIT have recorded a nearly simultaneous world-wide increase in methane levels. This is the first increase in ten years, and what baffles science is that this data contradicts theories stating man is the primary source of increase for this greenhouse gas. It takes about one full year for gases generated in the highly industrial northern hemisphere to cycle through and reach the southern hemisphere. However, since all worldwide levels rose simultaneously throughout the same year, it is now believed this may be part of a natural cycle in mother nature – and not the direct result of man’s contributions.

The two lead authors of a paper published in this week’s Geophysical Review Letters, Matthew Rigby and Ronald Prinn, the TEPCO Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry in MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Science, state that as a result of the increase, several million tons of new methane is present in the atmosphere.

31 Oct 2008

Son of NT Founder Endorses Obama

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Iowahawk posts the Apologia Pro Proditio Sua of T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII, Columnist, The National Topsider.

Trust me, I haven’t taken this tack lightly. No Van Voorhees has supported an avowed socialist since great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandpapa Cragmont Van Voorhees lent Peter Minuet $24 and a sack of wampum to swing a subprime mortgage on Manhattan Island. Old dad himself often recounted how, as a lad, he would command the family chauffeur Carleton to drive the Duesenberg down to the Times Square Trans-Lux so he could hiss Roosevelt. But I’ve taken a good measure of this Obama fellow, and I must say I like the cut of the man’s jib.

How can I say this, you ask? One look at this Obama chap is all the answer you need. Suave, tanned, unflappable, Harvard connections; it’s obvious that here is a man to the conservative manor born. One imagines him at the helm of the Ship of State, basked in the sunlight diffusing through the seaspray over the bow, like some beautiful rugged Othello from a rapturous Ralph Lauren catalog, calmly issuing instructions to the deck crew in that magnificent mellifluous baritone of his. It’s that easy-going, almost effortless grace that has all the A-list conservatives like David Frum and Kathleen Parker whispering Reaganesque in hushed tones. Even Peggy Noonan — the Grand Dame of Gipperism — has succumbed to Obama’s undeniable conservative charms. Just last month I listened to her wax poetic about the Adonis of Chicago between chukkers at the Newport Club polo tournament final. “Why Peggy, you old dowager,” I quipped, “I believe you just had an orgasm.”

Certainly, my endorsement has raised more than a few eyebrows around the National Topsider water cooler, particularly among the alumni of jejune cow colleges like Michigan or Dartmouth. They sometimes point to Mr. Obama’s radical Rolodex and his hooey about “weath redistribution” and “dictatorship of the proletariat.” But, as I patiently explain, this is precisely the point – it is hooey, over-the-top rhetorical flourishes obviously designed by Mr. Obama to win over benighted inner city hoi polloi (a feat, I might add, that even the Great Communicator himself was unable to accomplish). As for his so-called radical ties, who among us hasn’t sent dinner party invitations to Gore Vidal and a leftwing terrorists or two to enliven the postprandial conversation? Leonard Bernstein loved hosting all manner of Weathermen and Black Panthers and Symbionese Liberation Army celebrities at his Park Avenue pied a terre, but it didn’t mean the Maestro wasn’t in favor of low taxes. On the contrary; I know for a fact he itemized every cent of the catering bills for his famous terrorist cocktail parties.

Just so, I have every confidence that Obama’s true conservative butterfly will emerge once in office, coaxed from its Maoist cocoon by conservatives like myself and Frum and Parker and Noonan — all of whom I am pleased to report are already under consideration for the Obama Administration State Dinner shortlist. Certainly there may be a tax increase or two, but isn’t that what estate attorneys and Cayman Island banks are for? Under a worst case scenario some of us may have to set up a lease-back depreciation arrangement on one or two of our vacation compounds, as Dad was forced to in in the dark years of Carter.

Read the whole thing.

30 Oct 2008

They’ve Been Saving a Seat at the Banquet Just For Him

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Jules Crittenden says (publicly at least) that he’s planning to drink the Kool-Aid.

So I was thinking, maybe it’s time to do what all the other guys are doing. Colin Powell, Ken Adelman, Douglas Kmiec, Christopher Hitchens … OK, he’s just going back where he came from … Charles Fried, Francis Fukuyama, Chuck Hagel, Bruce Bartlett kind of, Bill Weld, Lincoln Chafee, Scott McClellan, Christopher Buckley … damn, there’s a lot of them. Looking at that very long list of august names, considering where we stand at this important portal in history, I think the question anyone at all progressively minded should be asking is … hey Condi, why don’t you grow a set?

You know what Mom always said, if everyone else was jumping off a cliff …. But maybe it is time, right now, in 2008, to do what everyone else is doing. Shrug, say what the heck, get on the Bush-bashing wagon … you have to admit, that does look like fun … and finally acknowledge what the deep booming voice from that opening in the clouds with all the blinding rays of light has been telling us. Obama is the Anointed One.

The candidate was in mid-drone, sandwiched between sob stories, when it finally hit me. I mean really hit me, personally. The time has come. I’ve been ignoring infomercials, channel-surfing away in hardhearted self-centered annoyance for decades. But at longlast, the time has come when we have to let those little nagging voices speak to us. It’s time we all reached down deep, some maybe deeper than than others, to Save the Children. It’s Obama as the Sally Struthers of our national conscience. It’s more than that. He’s the guy on our big national speedboat with lots of babes in bikinis. What are you waiting for? He’s got the secret to attaining universal health care and wealth equity, you just have to buy his tape. America can have killer abs, without all that sweating and going to the gym and kicking down third-world mudhut doors. It is that easy. Return it in four years, no obligation, if not fully satisfied.

And that’s why I’ve decided to announce that I’m voting for Obama.

That’s what I’ll be telling pollsters, the national media and everyone I know, anyway. What I do in the polling booth is my own damn business. Look, the leadership of the free world and all that is really important, but the last thing I want is anyone to think I’m a racist. Or even worse, not cool.

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Crittenden flipflops back here.

30 Oct 2008

How to Deflect Criticism

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30 Oct 2008

The Tyranny of Liberalism

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An excerpt from James Kalb’s The Tyranny of Liberalism: Understanding and Overcoming Administered Freedom, Inquisitorial Tolerance, and Equality by Command:

The incremental style of liberalism obscures the radicalism of what it eventually demands and enables it always to present itself as moderate. What is called progress—in effect, movement to the left—is thought normal in present-day society, so to stand in its way, let alone to try to reverse accepted changes, is thought radical and divisive. We have come to accept that what was inconceivable last week is mainstream today and altogether basic tomorrow. The result is that the past is increasingly discredited, deviancy is defined up or down, and it becomes incredible that, for instance, until 1969 high school gun-club members took their guns to school on New York City subways, and that in 1944 there were only forty-four homicides by gunshot in the entire city. …

In spite of serious chronic problems that no one knows how to attack—extraordinarily low natality, rising costs of social-welfare programs, growing immigrant populations that do not assimilate—basic change seems unthinkable. No matter how pressing the problem, only analyses and solutions compatible with liberal positions are allowed in the public square. Almost all serious discussion is carried on through academic and other institutions that are fully integrated with the ruling order, and in any case antidiscrimination rules make wholehearted subscription to principles such as inclusiveness the only way to avoid legal and public relations problems that would make institutional life impossible. Genuine political discussion disappears. What pass as battles between liberals and conservatives are almost always disputes between different stages or tendencies within liberalism itself.

So dominant is liberalism that it becomes invisible. Judges feel free to read it into the law without historical or textual warrant because it seems so obviously right. To oppose it in any basic way is to act incomprehensibly, in a way explicable, it is thought, only by reference to irrationality, ignorance, or evil. The whole of the nonliberal past is comprehensively blackened. Traditional ways are presented as the simple negation of unquestionable goods liberalism favors. Obvious declines in civility, morality, and cultural achievement are ignored, denied, or redefined as advances. Violence is said to be the fault of the persistence of sex roles, war of religion, theft of social inequality, suicide of stereotyping. Destruction of sex and historical community as ordering principles—and thus of settled family arrangements and cultural forms—is presented as a supremely desirable goal. The clear connection among the decline of traditional habits, standards, and social ties; the disintegration of institutions like the family; and other forms of personal and social disorder is ignored or treated as beside the point.

Many people find something deeply oppressive about the resulting situation, but no one really knows what to say about it. Some complain about those general restrictions, like political correctness, which make honest and productive discussion of public affairs impossible. Others have more concrete and personal objections. Parents are alarmed by the indoctrination of their children. Many people complain about affirmative action, massive and uncontrolled immigration, and the abolition of the family as a distinct social institution publicly recognized as fundamental and prior to the state. Still others have the uneasy sense that the world to which they are attached and which defines who they are is being taken from them.

Nonetheless, these victims and their complaints get no respect and little media coverage. Their discontent remains inarticulate and obscure. People feel stifled, but cannot say just how. They make jokes or sarcastic comments, but when challenged have trouble explaining and defending themselves. The disappearance of common understandings that enable serious thought and action to be carried on by nonexperts and outside formal bureaucratic structures has made it hard even to think about the issues coherently. The result is a system of puzzled compliance. …

Attempts to challenge the liberal hegemony occasionally emerge but always fail. No challenge seems possible when all social authorities that might compete with bureaucracy, money, and expertise have been discredited, co-opted, or radically weakened. When populist complaints make their half-articulate way into public life they are recognized as dangerous to the established order, debunked as ignorant and hateful, and quickly diverted or suppressed. Proponents of the standards now current always have the last word. Freedom, equality, and neutral expertise are the basis of those standards, and when discussion is put on that ground it is difficult to argue for anything contrary. Rejection of equal freedom and of expertise is oppressive and ignorant by definition, so how could it possibly be justified?

At bottom, the problem with the standards that now govern public life is that they deny natural human tendencies and so require constant nagging interference in all aspects of life. They lead to a denatured society that does not work and does not feel like home. A standard liberal response to such objections is that our reactions are wrong: we should accept what we are told by those who know better. Expertise must rule. Social attitudes, habits, and connections, it is said, are not natural but constructed. They are continually revised and reenacted, their function and significance change with circumstances, and their meaning is a matter of interpretation and choice. It follows that habits and attitudes that seem solidly established and even natural cannot claim respect apart from their conformity with justice—which, if prejudice and question-begging are to be avoided, can only be defined as equality. All habits and attitudes must be conformed to egalitarianism and expertise. To object would be bigoted or ignorant.

But why should we trust those said to know better in such matters? Visions of an emancipated future are not necessarily wiser than nostalgia for a virtuous past. If all past societies have been sinks of oppression, as we are now told, it is not clear why our rulers are likely to change the situation. They understand the basic problems of life no better than the Sumerians did. They are technically more advanced, but technology is simply the application of means to ends. Tyrants, who know exactly what they want, can make good use of technique, and if clever they will pass their actions off as liberation.

Advanced liberalism fosters an inert and incompetent populace, a pervasive state, and commercial institutions responsible mainly to themselves. Alas, the state generally botches large-scale undertakings, commerce is proverbially self-interested, and formal expertise is more successful with small issues that can be studied in detail than with the big issues that make life what it is. Experts can treat appendicitis, but they cannot give us a reason to live. They can provide the factual content of instruction, but they cannot tell us what things are worth knowing. Why, then, treat their authority as absolute?

We should not accept the official, and “expert,” debunking of ordinary ways of thought. While popular habits and attitudes can be presented as a compound of prejudice and self-interest, so can official and expert views. Both expertise and the state are immensely powerful social institutions. They have their own interests, and there is no reason to trust them any more than drug companies or defense contractors in matters that affect their own status and position. Expertise is only a refinement of common sense, upon which it continues to depend for its sanity and usefulness. Thought depends on habits, attitudes, and understandings that we mostly pick up from other people and that cannot be verified except in parts. It cannot be purified of habit and preconception and still touch our world. Ordinary good sense must remain the final standard of judgment. Good sense, however, is the business not of experts and officials but of the public at large.

In fact, advanced liberal society is reproducing the error of socialism—the attempt to administer and radically alter things that are too complex to be known, grasped, and controlled—but on a far grander scale. The socialists tried to simplify and rationalize economics, while today’s liberals are trying to do the same with human relations generally. The latter involve much more subtle, complicated, and fundamental aspects of human life. Why expect the results to be better?

Read the whole thing.

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Hat tip to the Barrister.

30 Oct 2008

Strange Days

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Mark Steyn marveled late last night at McCain last minute comeback in the polls.

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.

30 Oct 2008

“Name One Specific Thing This Guy Has Ever Accomplished”

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4:22 video

and

0:31 video

29 Oct 2008

LA Times Has Obama & Palestinians Video, But Won’t Release It

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Britt Hume, at Fox News, tells us that the 2003 video of Obama partying with Palestinians is breaking through into the news, despite the LA Times’ blockade.

The McCain camp has now joined those demanding The Los Angeles Times release a 2003 video that shows Barack Obama celebrating with a group of Palestinians hostile to Israel.

Peter Wallsten wrote in April about Obama’s association with former Palestinian operative Rashid Khalidi. The celebration was a farewell for Khalidi as he left Chicago for a job in New York. Wallsten called Khalidi a, “critic of Israel and advocate for Palestinian rights.”

He says, “A special tribute came from Khalidi’s friend and frequent dinner companion, the young State Senator Barack Obama… Obama reminisced about meals prepared by Khalidi’s wife… and conversations that had challenged his thinking.”

Wallsten writes that a young Palestinian read a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism. Another speaker likened Israeli settlers on the West Bank to Usama bin Laden.

Wallsten confirmed he has the tape, but told the political blog Gateway Pundit he does not plan on releasing it.

29 Oct 2008

“I Can’t Believe It’s Not Earned”

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From the People’s Cube.

29 Oct 2008

“Toto, I’ve a Feeling We’re Not in Alaska Any More”

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29 Oct 2008

From the Ministry of Truth

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Ed Driscoll visits Winston Smith at the Ministry of Truth and explores how history can be turned on a dime.

7:25 video

Via Glenn Reynolds.

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