Archive for September, 2008

September 29, 2008

THIS SOUNDS UNFORTUNATE: Marine’s Widow Hits Visa Snag.

The phone call devastated Robin Ferschke, the mother of a Marine killed in Iraq.

Her Okinawan daughter-in-law, six months pregnant with the couple’s child, tearfully called earlier this week and said she was having problems getting a residency visa to live in the United States. . . .

Because of problems with fraudulent marriages, in 1986 Congress revised the rules for immigration through marriage, requiring foreigners to be married to U.S. citizens for at least two years before they can receive a residency visa.

The rule’s goal was to ensure that the marriages are performed in good faith and not for immigration purposes.

But Hotaru Ferschke, 24, and Marine Sgt. Michael Ferschke Jr., 22, a radio operator with the 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, had been married only one month before he was killed July 10 while conducting door-to-door searches in Iraq.

Perhaps someone can look into this?

September 29, 2008

ADVICE FOR JOHN MCCAIN: “So while his campaign turns up the heat and does what the MSM will not — lay bare the record and identity of Obama — he would do well to start a look-’em-in-the-eye series of ads and some heart-to-heart conversations with voters. Give voters a list of all the hard choices and specific things he’s going to do and why his opponent is evading the tough truths (Where exactly is Obama going to control the budget? Why does Obama pander on trade when he knows better?) or making bad choices (Why would we raise taxes as we slide into a recession?).”

September 29, 2008

THE EXAMINER reluctantly endorses the bailout plan.

Meanwhile, Professor Bainbridge is wondering about the legislative veto provision. Yeah, that looks shaky to me, too. However, if I recall correctly — I’m still on my first cup of coffee — joint resolutions are presented to the President, which would fix the problem, though also make the legislative veto pointless.

September 29, 2008

DAN RIEHL is questioning the A.P.’s priorities.

September 29, 2008

SLATE: “It looks like the Sarah Palin rape-kit myth is still alive and flourishing. . . . But the fact remains that this is a nasty and untrue rumor about Sarah Palin that’s been circulating for weeks. If you’re an Obama supporter who gets frustrated that people still believe he’s Muslim or won’t put his hand on his heart for the Pledge of Allegiance, you should understand the frustration that Palin supporters feel when this slime is taken at face value.”

September 29, 2008

POLITICO: “Barack Obama says a John McCain victory would amount to a third term of the Bush presidency. What he doesn’t say: an Obama victory would, too.”

September 28, 2008

BOB OWENS: “Just some guy in the neighborhood” who almost blew up the Fort Dix NCO Club.

September 28, 2008

WHERE JIM TREACHER LEADS, Saturday Night Live follows.

September 28, 2008

EUGENE VOLOKH ON THE “OBAMA TRUTH SQUAD” IN MISSOURI: It’s certainly possible that the KMOV report wasn’t accurate — and now that there’s a stink, the prosecutors are backpedaling, but that hardly means that the chilling effect wasn’t intended, particularly when placed in context with other threatening tactics we’ve seen.

An earlier post from Eugene is here.

And, for a bit of levity, here’s your official Missouri Truth Squad Incident Report.

September 28, 2008

A FIRST LOOK AT THE BAILOUT BILL, from David Zaring at The Conglomerate.

September 28, 2008

JERRY POURNELLE ON THE BAILOUT DEAL:

Off the top of my head observations:

Golden parachutes: we may detest them, but they are not the cause of the problem. And every one of the Democrats involved in this bailout benefited from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and every one of them was in favor of the CRA provisions requiring more and more sub-prime loans in order to increase home ownership.

And listening to Pelosi and Reid’s press conference, I am guessing that their provisions for helping keep people in their homes probably means that those who should not have been buying houses in the first place will be protected in one way or another. People who made horrible decisions and bought houses without down payment and interest only loans will be bailed out by those who put up a down payment and took out a normal 30 year amortization loan and have made their payments all along. Perhaps this is a good thing. Ownership promotes a certain independence. But I suspect that things will be gimmicked so that in order to keep the house you should never been able to buy, you will have to continue to support the Democrats. But then I have a nasty suspicions mind.

On protecting Wall Street:
Of course when government forces banks to make bad loans, is there then a moral obligation from all of us to make the banks whole again? They were only doing what we told them they must do. I know, I know, we the people didn’t vote to force the banks to make bad loans; but our government did, and the Congress did, and we continued to elect those who did that, and we are now to cheer them as heroes for rescuing us from the financial collapse. Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, Pelosi, Reid — they were all for regulations requiring more sub-prime loans. Banks that didn’t comply were in a world of hurt.

Biden is asking where McCain was! Well, Biden, McCain was in 2003 trying to curb Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and cut back the pressure from the CRA, that’s where he was. Where were you? And where was Obama?

Well, in 2003 Obama was an Illinois State Senator. But look who abandoned the no-earmark condition to support money for ACORN.

September 28, 2008

A SOLID LEAD FOR OBAMA IN POLLS.

September 28, 2008

QUESTIONS ON POLLING: Forget Red or Blue State: Are You Wireless or Wireline? Plus, a look at cellphone-only households by state. Do pollsters really have a handle on this, or are their polls becoming more divorced from reality? I’m really not sure on this, but I suppose we’ll get some more data in a little over a month . . . .

Here’s more on the subject from Mark Blumenthal.

September 28, 2008

KENNETH ANDERSON: “If I were writing John McCain ads … Here are a couple I would have out immediately.”

September 28, 2008

LIBEL TOURISM, American Style.

September 28, 2008

GOOD NEWS: SpaceX Successfully Launches Fourth Falcon 1 Rocket. “Definitely one of the best days of my life,” says Elon Musk.

September 28, 2008

CAN CONGRESS appoint members of the bailout oversight committee?

September 28, 2008

ONLY THREE? How Windows Can Save Itself: Three Things We Want to See in Windows 7.

September 28, 2008

MACSMIND BLOG shut down by hackers.

September 28, 2008

TOM BROKAW CAN’T SAY IT ALL: So I read the writing on the wall: “My guess? Inside NBC, they are fretting about criticism that they show favoritism toward Obama, so Brokaw thought it might help to lob out a glaring hunk of McCain favoritism. Sorry! That just looked really weird. Consequently, it reinforced the perception that NBC favors Obama.”

September 28, 2008

THE INSTAWIFE on Alec Baldwin’s new book on fatherhood and divorce. Bottom line: “if Baldwin had such problems with the system with all his fame and money, what chance does the average joe have?”

September 28, 2008

MORE ON OBAMA’S BRACELET: “Madison resident Brian Jopek, the father of Ryan Jopek, the young soldier who tragically lost his life to a roadside bomb in 2006, recently said on a Wisconsin Public Radio show that his family had asked Barack Obama to stop wearing the bracelet with his son’s name on it. Yet Obama continues to do so despite the wishes of the family.”

If that’s true, I’m surprised the McCain folks haven’t made something of it.

UPDATE: I guess this is why the McCain campaign hasn’t jumped on it. The parents, who are divorced, disagree. On the other hand, there’s this: “She acknowledges e-mailing the campaign in February asking that Obama not mention her son in speeches or debates.”

September 28, 2008

WAS STONEHENGE A health spa? I’ve heard of hot-stone massages, but this is ridiculous. . . .

September 28, 2008

ROCKING THE HOUSE with Wii Music.

September 28, 2008

I THOUGHT IT WAS WRONG to question people’s patriotism.

September 28, 2008

CHARLIE RANGEL and the Keystone Ethics Cops.

You know, someone should write a book on this phenomenon.

September 28, 2008

GRANITE GROK on why the bull’s eye should be on politicians and not on capitalism.

September 28, 2008

I AGREE: Rep. Mark Udall says Rangel should step down. “Rep. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) said Sunday that House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) should step down from his chairmanship while an ethics investigation takes place.” I suspect, though, that the Republicans would rather Rangel stayed in the public eye until November.

September 28, 2008

PROBABLY JUST SCURVY. Or radiation poisoning. You know, nothing to worry about.

September 28, 2008

OKAY, NOW IT REALLY IS A FINANCIAL CRISIS: Playboy bunnies have become the latest victim of the credit crunch.

September 28, 2008

HOW DIFFERENTLY PEOPLE SEE THINGS: I thought McCain’s debate performance was at best only okay, but I just noticed this post from Obama supporter Katie Granju, who wrote: “Mid-debate, I have to say that John McCain is sort of kicking Obama to the curb.” You should never trust my judgment of these things, as I remember thinking that Carter won the Carter-Reagan debates. But Obama clearly won the post-debate spin, anyway.

September 28, 2008

IN THE MAIL: Linda Mills’ Violent Partners: A Breakthrough Plan for Ending the Cycle of Abuse. With blurbs from Kathleen Parker and Desmond Tutu, and an acknowledgment that men are often victims of domestic violence too, this isn’t your typical book on the subject.

September 28, 2008

A side-by-side comparison of bailout legislation. The payola for ACORN seems to be out. Related thoughts here.

September 28, 2008

CHINA’S NEW slave empire in Africa? “We have come a long way from Cecil Rhodes to Bob Geldof, but we still have not brought much happiness with us, and even Nelson Mandela’s vaunted ‘Rainbow Nation’ in South Africa is careering rapidly towards banana republic status. Now a new great power, China, is scrambling for wealth, power and influence in this sad continent, without a single illusion or pretence.”

September 28, 2008

REMEMBERING THE CIVILIAN CONSERVATION CORPS: Doug Weinstein got a bill passed to create something similar in Tennessee — modeled on California’s Conservation Corps — and Lamar Alexander vetoed it. I think it was a good idea, and a bad move on Lamar’s part.

September 28, 2008

TAKING ON THE I.R.S.: Thirty Churches to Endorse Presidential Candidate From Pulpit Today. I’d deal with this differently, and tax churches like any other business. I think that the “nonprofit” sector has grown out of all proportion because of its tax-exempt status, and we ought to consider eliminating tax exemptions for nonprofits entirely. Failing that, we ought to limit them to organizations that provide direct services to those in need, and only to the extent of such services. The rest is a big subsidy that has created a nonprofit bubble in the economy.

UPDATE: Reader Matthew Conlan emails: “Since the power to tax is the power to destroy, how would you mesh taxing religious institutions with the First Amendment?”

The religious tax exemptions are part of a general nonprofit exemption that is a matter of legislative grace, not First Amendment right. In fact, an exemption limited to religious groups would violate the Establishment Clause. And as this story suggests, the exemption hasn’t exactly disentangled the IRS from religious expression. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: More on that entanglement here.

MORE: Reader Doug Levene writes:

Your comments on the growth of the non profit sector as a refuge from taxation are very important.
As part of my East Asian Studies M.A. at Yale many years ago, I studied a lot of pre-modern Chinese history and one fact that struck me then was the growth of tax-free “religious” institutions to the point where the tax base was severely eroded. Indeed, that was one of the major problems for the Chinese central government, such as it was. I wonder if that is happening in the US generally today? It obviously does happen locally – consider what percentage of the property in Cambridge, Massachusetts is tax exempt. What is the impact nationally? Have any economists or tax lawyers looked at this?

I don’t know, but the nonprofit sector has had explosive growth in the past several decades.

September 28, 2008

SINCE CZARS WERE ACTUALLY, YOU KNOW, TYRANTS, why the enthusiasm? Senate Passes Bill Creating ‘Copyright Czar’.

Of course, given that these “czars” always fail — remember the “Energy Czar?” And there’s always the “Drug Czar” — maybe there’s a different lesson here.

UPDATE: Dodd Harris emails: “I submit that the real issue is that we define ‘success’ and ‘failure’ differently from Congresscritters and bureaucrats. The ‘Drug Czar’ is a perfect example of the difference.” Yes, what’s bad for the country is usually good for Washington, a mis-alignment of incentives that’s at the root of a lot of our problems . . . .

September 28, 2008

INFLATABLE SURVEILLANCE BALLS for Mars. “Each foot-wide, 11-pound ball can roll up to 62 miles, snap photos at any angle, and take soil samples, drawing its power from the solar panels on its shell. Unlike wheeled rovers, the rounded scouts have fewer motors to repair, never flip over, and are easier to seal from dust. Plus, they rarely get stuck.”

September 28, 2008

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Lawmakers Reach Tentative Bailout Deal.

September 28, 2008

YESTERDAY’S POST on the ongoing phenomenon of watch markdowns led some readers to wonder if it’s driven by a change in behavior. Reader Chris Arfaa writes:

I suspect the frequency of watch sales is a result of a decline in watch wearing. I rarely use a watch, relying on the clock on my mobile phone. While I seem to be an exception in my age group (45), younger generations – those who grew up with mobile phones – seem not to wear watches. Wrist watches qua wrist watches may go the way of day planners and non-wireless PDAs (other items of personal technology whose functions are now built into the mobile phone).

And another reader emails: “I asked my son about a possible watch as a gift for his girlfriend. Both are late teens while I’m from the age of dinosaurs. He said no one wears them anymore because they just rely on their cellphones. Perhaps that might be one reason for the big watch sale?”

Yeah, my daughter is in the same boat. I try not to carry my cellphone with me all the time — not because I’m worried about infertility (at this point, I’m not sure if that’s a bug, or a feature), but because I don’t like the interruptions that come with carrying a cellphone that’s turned on. But when you’re texting your friends 24/7, the attitude’s different. Of course, once cellphones are small enough to go on your wrist, we may come full circle . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Opie sends a long email saying that these cheap watches aren’t so good. Click “read more” to read it.

September 28, 2008

KARL OKAMOTO ASKS, what is the net present value of a law degree? “It appears that my students, as a group, have a very similar notion of what lawyers make on average. Unfortunately, it happens to be more than what at least 90 percent of lawyers actually do earn.”

September 28, 2008

PROFESSOR BAINBRIDGE: “The more I understand about the current financial situation, the more I’m persuaded that some form of government bailout of the financial sector really is necessary. . . . What’s not acceptable, however, are the barnacles already attaching themselves to the bailout.”

Yes, as usual the parasites are at work here. But will they kill the host?

September 28, 2008

THE TALE OF two bracelets.

September 28, 2008

READER PAT MCNIFF WRITES:

What financial crisis?

My wife and I just came back from going out to dinner. We ate at BJ’s Brewery which was packed with people waiting inside and outside.. Ditto Buffalo Wild Wings, PF Changs, Rock Fish , Buca de Pepo , California Pizza Kitchen, RA Sushi, Molly Branigans, etc…….

We live in the Mesa/Gilbert Arizona area which is about 25 miles east of Phoenix.. This area is supposedly the epicenter of declining home values and mortgage defaults…Well, not so much apparently…

Forget the bailout and the let the markets work….

I understand the point. My brother-in-law has a business hauling things — cars, boats, etc. — and says that he’s got more work than he can handle, and that there’s nothing like an economic slowdown visible. But the key word in “financial crisis” is “financial.” When McCain said the fundamentals of the economy are sound, he was talking about muscles and sinews. The problem we’ve got is more neurological.

September 28, 2008

BREAKING THE CODE:

In a brief post earlier today, I wrote that it was heartening that both McCain and, to a lesser extent, Obama, are talking about cutting federal spending. Various commenters suggested that I was being naive in thinking that either candidate will cut spending if elected.

The commenters miss my point, so let me clarify. I’m not heartened because I have any expectations of either mcCain or Obama. Rather, I’m heartened because they are both opportunistic politicians, and they wouldn’t be talking about cutting spending unless they thought that this is what the public wants.

I’d certainly like to see some spending cuts, though I found both candidates’ proposals a bit timid.

September 27, 2008

TALKLEFT: Innocent Man Freed in Durham. “In Daniels’ case as in countless others, the prosecution focused its efforts on proving the guilt of the man the police arrested, rather than asking whether the police arrested the right man. And once they got their conviction, it was case closed — even after it became apparent that the wrong man had been sent to prison.”

September 27, 2008

NASHVILLE’S GAS SITUATION — a report from the bunker. (Via Pattie’s Pop Culture Paradise).

September 27, 2008

DANIEL DREZNER ON WHAT WAS MISSING FROM LAST NIGHT’S DEBATE: Jim Lehrer didn’t ask a single question about China. “Think about this for a second. China is clearly the one country that can challenge the United States as a peer competitor in the next decade. There are economic, regional, security, human rights, and global governance issues where Washington and Beijing don’t see eye to eye. And there was no question that addressed any of this. “

September 27, 2008

MORE ON THOSE MISSOURI GOON SQUADS: Would people really refrain from criticizing Obama just because they fear being, er, sent to prison for it? “Oh, the fun we’ll have with a deep blue Congress and an Obama-run DOJ and FCC. He promised you a ‘new type of politics,’ didn’t he?”

More on this lame speech-suppression effort here. Really, I don’t understand the point of this stuff — for every critic it silences, it creates ten. Bad judgment. But are these things bad enough to support civil-rights conspiracy charges? Hard to say at this point. Will the Department of Justice take an interest? But spare me the Godwin’s Law violations, please.

September 27, 2008

WHO’D'VE THOUGHT IT: Intelligent design textbook “full of bad science.”

September 27, 2008

ANOTHER FEMALE TEACHER CHARGED for having sex with a 17-year-old male student. I don’t know, but I’m guessing that this isn’t actually any more common than it used to be, just more likely to lead to charges and publicity. My guess is that teenage sex, while becoming no less common, has been increasingly pathologized. And, of course, lots of things have been turned over to the criminal law that used to be dealt with more informally. Am I wrong?

Meanwhile, here’s a piece on the general subject I wrote a few years ago.

September 27, 2008

DARK CHOCOLATE: Good for you, but in low doses.

September 27, 2008

MORE Paul Newman memories.

September 27, 2008

NO COURT FOR YOU! “A man described as ‘like Kramer from Seinfeld‘ has been banished from the Davidson County Courthouse where he’s been a fixture for 20 years.”

September 27, 2008

L.A. TIMES: Barack Obama: We’ll never forget what’s-his-name.

September 27, 2008

CAR LUST: Remembering The Volkswagen Thing. Those were everywhere for a few years, then disappeared.

September 27, 2008

BULLETS AND BRACELETS: But no Wonder Woman.

September 27, 2008

VIDEO FROM THE SARAH PALIN pre-debate pub party. She may be new to national politics, but apparently she’s already figured out that these things shouldn’t be watched while sober . . . .

September 27, 2008

JAY NORDLINGER: “Obama has mastered the trick of coming off as perfectly moderate — even when your career and thought have been very different. Listening to Obama last night, you would have taken him to be a Sam Nunn, David Boren type. No ACORN, no Ayers, no Wright, no community-organizin’ radicalism, no nothing. He certainly knows what it takes to appeal to people in a general election. Then, once he’s in — if he gets in — he will govern as far to the left as possible.”

September 27, 2008

THINGS THAT DON’T SUCK (CONT’D): I mentioned last week that my Sweetwater Creation Station computer, which I use for the podcasts, etc., had died. I shipped it to them on Friday, and got it back yesterday afternoon, all fixed. Hooked it up last night while watching the debates, and it works fine. Nice service. My brother has sworn by Sweetwater Sound for years on account of the service, and this is my first real experience with needing it. Good job, folks.

September 27, 2008

RAND SIMBERG WONDERS if gas lines in the South are being aggravated by anti-”price gouging” efforts. He may be right. Knoxville had shortages and high prices, but no lines. Other places seem to be facing shortages and lines, but not such high prices. Five-dollar gasoline does discourage people from topping off every time their tank drops below 3/4.

UPDATE: More on Charlotte’s situation here. And reader Robert Evans writes: “In Charlotte, as the article states, there is a low per capita amount of pumps available. Radio and TV stations have been panicking people by reporting shortages, causing runs on the stations, similar to the runs on bread and milk at groceries when a snowstorm is reported.”

Yes, especially with just-in-time inventories, you can create a shortage, and more panic, just by reporting on a potential shortage and panic. Can the press learn a lesson before we get bank runs the same way? I mean, without help from Charles Schumer.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader G.L. Carlson emails on Knoxville:

The panic-induced K-town gas shortage of a couple weeks ago was clearly created by the world-is-ending print story, picked up by other media.

Allowing prices to float to you-gotta-be-kidding, I’ll wait! levels equally quickly damped out the panic.

Market driven negative feedback works. Eliminate the feedback, or use positive feedback, and you get what you deserve.

Yep.

September 27, 2008

JOHN NOLTE remembers Paul Newman.

September 27, 2008

WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS? The Microwave S’mores Maker: A Gadget You Don’t Need…But You Know You Want. How have I lived without one?

September 27, 2008

MISSOURI GOVERNOR MATT BLUNT is condemning the Missouri Goon Squads:

JEFFERSON CITY – Gov. Matt Blunt today issued the following statement on news reports that have exposed plans by U.S. Senator Barack Obama to use Missouri law enforcement to threaten and intimidate his critics.

“St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.

“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment. This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights.

More at the link.

September 27, 2008

JIM LINDGREN:

Much of the blogosphere is up in arms because of the provision in Senator Dodd’s financial bailout bill that might funnel profits from the bailout plan to ACORN Housing (related to the disreputable activist group ACORN), and other more reputable service organizations.

I have read Dodd’s proposed statute and in some respects, it is far worse than has been reported. Senator Dodd has placed a loophole in the bill that is explicitly designed to siphon off tens or hundreds of billions of dollars to the Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund even if there are no net profits in the $700 billion venture.

You know, it would be easier for me to believe this was a crisis, if the people in charge were acting like it was a crisis, instead of just an opportunity for graft. Then again, to some of these people, everything is just an opportunity for graft.

September 27, 2008

PAKISTANI TRIBES FIGHT BACK AGAINST TALIBAN: “Moderate tribesmen in parts of militant-ravaged north-west Pakistan are challenging Taliban extremists threatening to overrun their area, in what could develop into a mass resistance movement. . . . The resistance has parallels with the “Sunni awakening” in Iraq, where tribesmen took on al-Qaida militants in Anbar province and elsewhere. The Pakistani movement relies on tribal customs and widespread ownership of guns to raise traditional private armies, known as lashkars, each with hundreds or several thousand volunteers. These tribal armies cannot stop individual acts of terrorism, like the devastating suicide bombing of the Marriott hotel in Islamabad last week that killed more than 50 people. But they aim to stop the development of an extremist mini-state in the north-west.” I think we should try to encourage this.

September 27, 2008

THE SECRET TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Housing you can afford. And a substantial down payment.

September 27, 2008

A GENUINE AND IMMEDIATE CRISIS? “The huge European bank Fortis is apparently about to fail. The ripple effect on the American banking system could be disastrous, with bank runs, liquidity crises, and stock sell offs possible Monday. Wachovia may well fail next week. As Larry put it, this really will be 1933 soon if we don’t move rapidly to stabilize the banking system.” We don’t want bank runs or liquidity crises.

September 27, 2008

LAST NIGHT’S DEBATE AUDIENCE smaller than Bush-Kerry’s. Hmm. You see a lot fewer bumper stickers, too. Could it be that outside of the political-junkie crowd people just aren’t that excited about this election?

UPDATE: Gerard van der Leun emails:

I don’t think “excitement” is what to look for in this election. What’s coming here is a reckoning.

Here in Seattle, you see endless signs and bumper stickers for Obama as you might well expect. Not a lot for McCain except in the suburbs. But I don’t think that represents the actual popular sentiment in any significant way. Washington actually has, via Rasmussen, McCain within 2. That’s optimistic but even within 6 represents a notable surge in a state where Seattle skews all elections substantially left. (It is a city, as I like to say, where it seems that somebody lifted up the Northwest by the corner, shook it, and everything loose rolled into Seattle.)

As a result, there is no frank exchange of political views between the camps that I can observe here either socially or in the local media. It is simply assumed that if you are not for the Big O, you have nothing to say and if you persist in saying it you will be shouted down in very short order.

I think you see fewer signs not because we are not interested, but because we are now so sharply polarized — to the point of vituperative arguments and outright vandalism. It’s as if we’ve all decided to just prepare and then show up on Election day ready to rumble.

There’s been no little of outright intimidation in this election so far, and I think for the most part, it all flows from the Obama camp. I can think of a number of incidents of hostile action against McCain supporters and even “moderates.” None come to mind when looking the other way. I think we’re seeing a secret sheaf of opinions held close to the vest and running up to a secret ballot. If we had to vote with a show of hands a la the caucus, it might tilt one way. But since we don’t do caucusing for the general, it might well tilt the other.

That’s not encouraging.

September 27, 2008

GAS SHORTAGES CONTINUE in Charlotte and western North Carolina. Here in Knoxville today, the Insta-Wife had to try three stations before she found one that had premium, but there’s no real shortage, and there haven’t been lines. Prices have been kinda high, though.

September 27, 2008

HAPPY 100TH BIRTHDAY TO THE MODEL T: My grandmother learned to drive on one of these when she was 13. This modern road test notes that driving a Model T isn’t easy. “One hundred years ago, average Americans and early auto engineers alike praised the Model T for its ease of operation. But compared to a modern car, this thing’s a nightmare.” I remember my grandmother saying that the hardest thing was the spark control.

September 27, 2008

GAS-PRICE BITE: International kills its line of consumer-grade Semis.

September 27, 2008

THOUGHTS ON CLASSROOM ADVOCACY, rebellion, and indoctrination.

September 27, 2008

THE WATCH SALE I MENTIONED LAST WEEK IS STILL GOING ON, and now they’ve upped the ante by throwing in a free backpack with your purchase.

September 27, 2008

JOHN PODHORETZ: “But it seems to me, based on what has actually been happening in this country over the past 96 hours, the only person who was really at risk in this debate was McCain. Since he said he wouldn’t leave Washington until there was a bailout deal, and then he did, and since his presence on Thursday itself became a controversial subject, a bad night for him — especially on the economy — might have been fatal. Instead, he put on a credible performance on the economy, and a powerful and commanding one on foreign policy. . . . In this respect, doing well in this debate was actually far more important for McCain than it was for Obama; his campaign was on the line, and Obama’s wasn’t.”

And don’t miss these aesthetic points:

In the end, I’d say, McCain made more good points and got in more punches, but Obama stood his ground and maintained his stature on stage next to McCain, even as McCain repeatedly tried to portray him as a lightweight. I should add that McCain never seemed too old, short, or lacking in vigor, even on HDTV. Obama looked fine too, and I never saw that upturned face, with the eyes gazing downward, that made him seem supercilious in those old debates with Hillary Clinton.

You used to have to be ready for prime time. Now you have to be ready for HD.

September 27, 2008

SOME GOOD NEWS: Chinese Astronaut Makes Nation’s First Spacewalk. “A Chinese astronaut orbiting the earth slipped out of the Shenzhou VII spacecraft Saturday afternoon and performed the nation’s first spacewalk, establishing another milestone in China’s space program.”

Congratulations to the Chinese. And for those Americans who point out that the Chinese are just now doing what we did over 40 years ago, I’ll offer this counterpoint: The Chinese are moving forward, while we are — at most charitable — basically standing still.

UPDATE: Reader Ryan Howley writes:

Just wanted to add a bit to idea that they’re moving forward, while we’re doing …. whatever. I currently live in Beijing, and there is a lot of excitement here among the population. That can’t hurt going forward. While watching the live launch, my pulse was racing. It’s exciting to see, and wonderful watching humans pursuing their insatiable desire for knowledge and exploration.

I mentioned to a friend back home the spacewalk today and said it will be embarrassing when they pass us. His response was “really, though, what is there left to do?” With that attitude among our citizens, it’ll only be a matter of time before China does surpass us. I hope this can get our (friendly) competitive juices flowing once again, though.

China doesn’t have an intellectual class that views real-world accomplishment, or expansion — or, basically, its own civilization — as inherently suspect. That makes things a bit easier, I suspect.

September 27, 2008

CHARLES SCHUMER’S WASHINGTON MUTUAL CONNECTIONS: “For all the chest-pounding by Washington politicians, especially Democrats, about CEOs of failed banks and financial institutions receiving ‘golden parachutes,’ why is it these guys all tend to be big bucks Democrat contributors?”

September 27, 2008

CNN’S POLL VS. CNN’S SPIN: “CNN’s poll of debate viewers blares a puzzling headline: ‘Round 1 in debate goes to Obama, poll says.’ But the poll itself actually doesn’t say that.”

UPDATE: Rand Simberg noticed something in the debate that I did, too, but forgot to blog:

McCain just called for an end to cost-plus contracts in the debate.

I don’t know if they can be eliminated, but they should sure be cut way back. But good luck with that.

He also commented: “I have to say that so far, McCain is not doing very well. He’s letting Obama get away with a lot of lies and sophistry, calling him on very little of it.”

Yes, McCain didn’t go for the jugular. As somebody noted last night, Obama and McCain seem to kind of like each other. There’s nothing like the obvious mutual distaste we saw between Bush and Gore. Is that part of the Senate’s clubbiness, or is it genuine?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Todd Zywicki found the debate depressing, but comments:

For those of you who think that Barack Obama is qualified to be President more than Sarah Palin is to be Vice-President because of foreign policy issues, I’m sorry, but watching tonight’s debate that is simply an absurd position. Maybe they are both qualified (my view, although it is much easier to argue that Obama is qualified to be Vice-President as Obama’s lack of executive experience in making decisions and general aridity do worry me in seeing him as President in a world of Putins), or maybe they are both unqualified (although both seem obviously qualfied to be Vice-President). But the idea that Obama is qualified to be President and Palin unqualified to be Vice-President has never struck me as a particularly plausible position–and after last night, even less so.

And see what Joe Malchow thought, too.

MORE: Heck, it would be better if McCain had said “horseshit.” Oh, well, gotta save some excitement for the last debate . . . .

September 27, 2008

WELL, YES: PETA is a bunch of boobs. “Exploiting cows bad, exploiting humans good.”

September 27, 2008

SO DOES THIS MEAN MCCAIN WAS RIGHT TO WANT TO FIRE CHRIS COX? S.E.C. Concedes Oversight Flaws Fueled Collapse. “Friday, the S.E.C.’s inspector general released a report strongly criticizing the agency’s performance in monitoring Bear Stearns before it collapsed in March. Christopher Cox, the commission chairman, said he agreed that the oversight program was ‘fundamentally flawed from the beginning.’” (Thanks to reader Fred Lapides for the link).

UPDATE: More thoughts that this supports McCain’s claim.

September 27, 2008

POLITICO: “John McCain was very lucky that he decided to show up for the first presidential debate in Oxford, Miss., Friday night. Because he gave one of his strongest debate performances ever. . . . Sure, McCain is a pretty old guy for a presidential candidate, but he showed the old guy did not mind mixing it up. He stood behind a lectern for 90 minutes without a break — you try that when you are 72 — and he not only gave as good as he got, he seemed to relish it more.” Note that this is the other Roger Simon writing. I don’t think McCain’s performance was his best (he was much better in the Rick Warren forum); I’d say he gave a B-level performance and Obama was a B-minus. Edge to McCain, but not by a lot, and neither candidate distinguished himself. Both, I suspect, were tired and distracted from the economic events.

Interestingly, McCain was up several on InTrade right after the debate, but now he’s dropped a bit. I presume that means that traders who watched the debate thought that he’d done better than the ensuing spin suggested.

September 27, 2008

BRIAN NOGGLE: Two weekends to reshape Hollywood?

September 27, 2008

BITES FROM THE APPLE: A roundup of Apple Computer, iPhone, and iPod news. Including hints about the new Macbook.

September 27, 2008

HEH:

But, if I were writing the SNL skit, I would have the two candidates engage in a sympathy-for-veteran-families-and-other-noble-causes “Jewelry-off” playing on the “I have a bracelet too” comment from Obama.

“Oh yeah? I have this earing and two bangles….”

“Well, my nipple ring proves I care more about ….”

Probably funnier than what will actually appear.

September 27, 2008

ERIC POSNER: Do economists know what they’re talking about?

September 27, 2008

JOHN ALLISON: Key Points on “Rescue” Plan From A Healthy Bank’s Perspective.

September 27, 2008

MORE ON THE MISSOURI GOON SQUADS.

September 27, 2008

YEAH, I DON’T THINK THAT this Sarah Palin swimsuit video is going to do the campaign any harm.

Now, a Joe Biden swimsuit video . . . well, best not even think of it.

September 26, 2008

JERRY POURNELLE: “As I surmised, the bailout — good idea or poor — can’t be made to happen until Barney Frank and Senator Dodd are allowed to wet their beaks. . . . There isn’t a hell of a lot of leadership being shown here. The Senators who are running for office seem more bent on that than on being part of the Senate. Everyone seems agreed that something must be done, but that his or her team won’t get enough out of it, so we need more negotiations. That is probably not going to work. I sure hope something does before it’s too late and nothing will work.”

September 26, 2008

A POST-DEBATE INSTA-POLL:

Who Won Tonight’s Debate?
McCain
Obama
Zzzzz . . er, what? No, I was just resting my eyes.
  
pollcode.com free polls

UPDATE: Compare the results at the Drudge poll.

September 26, 2008

KATIE GRANJU ASKS WASHINGTON POST REPORTER KARL VICK SOME QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS REPORTING ON SARAH PALIN, and isn’t happy with his answers.

September 26, 2008

ANN ALTHOUSE WILL BE LIVEBLOGGING THE DEBATE. So will Jason Pye.

Also, Stephen Green is drunkblogging, and the back-injured Bruce Carroll is Vicodin-blogging.

UPDATE: Oh, what the hell. You liveblog too. I’m opening comments. Please try to wait a minute or two in between refreshing.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Hmm. Doesn’t seem to be working. Something in the site move seems to have screwed things up.

MORE: Extreme Mortman isn’t impressed with the debate so far: “Drunk blogging? Vicodin blogging? Heck, any instapundit readers up for Ambien blogging?”

And can we get rid of that lame Main Street / Wall Street dichotomy now that both of them have used it more than once? Please?

TigerHawk is liveblogging, too.

Speaking on behalf of PorkBusters, I’m glad to see the earmark issue getting so much attention.

But neither Obama nor McCain is on top of their game — they kind of sound like an SNL parody of themselves.

Jeff Garzik emails: “Both are floundering. The debate format is brilliant, primarily at drawing out the
soundbite-driven nature of both candidates.”

Heh: “I can’t stand this ‘main street’ rhetoric. I thought that there was no main street any more since Walmart spelled the death of it . . .”

More liveblogging from Jules Crittenden.

So is John Althouse Cohen, and it’s hard to argue with this observation:

“I’ve got a bracelet.” “I’ve got a bracelet too!” Are these serious adults running for president, or is this summer camp?

Yeah, McCain and Obama aren’t bad guys, but it’s hard to believe that these two are the best that a country of 300 million can produce.

More liveblogging at Gateway Pundit.

Wow, the debate isn’t even over and the McCain folks already have this video out.

Bob Owens: “Frankly, I think everyone, right and left, was expecting something far different than we saw here tonight.”

And reader Peter Sibley emails: “Strangest line of the night: From Obama: ‘I never objected to nuclear waste.’”

September 26, 2008

FABIUS MAXIMUS looks at the profusion of debt in the post-World War Two economy. Some troubling graphs. People have been predicting problems from this for decades. Of course, you could have said the same kind of thing before the Fannie Mae collapse . . . .

September 26, 2008

PLANS TO quake-proof Cal Stadium.

September 26, 2008

ROSE THE workaholic border collie.

September 26, 2008

JONATHAN GEWIRTZ:

If Obama supported gun rights, many pro-gun people, even Republicans, would support him, because many pro-gun people are single-issue voters on this topic and Obama’s opponent has a spotty record on gun rights. (The NRA and pro-gun rights voters have supported pro-gun Democrats in many elections.) Also, if Obama really supported the right to arms, it’s likely that many additional Republican, libertarian and independent voters would support him because conservatives and libertarians often interpret a politician’s support for the right to arms as a reliable proxy for that politician’s support of other individual rights. This point seems especially strong now, since many Republican voters distrust Obama’s opponent on free speech, business regulation and other big-govt-vs-individual-rights issues.

So on the one hand we have single-issue pro-gun people opposing Obama on guns, and on the other hand we have people who are primarily Obama partisans, not gun people, arguing that pro-gun people should trust Obama on guns. Who should we believe?

Who, indeed?

September 26, 2008

BARACKROLLED: Best political video of the season so far.

September 26, 2008

DAMON ROOT on D.C. v. Heller and the failures of conservative judicial restraint. “What we need is a principled form of judicial activism, one that consistently upholds individual liberty while strictly limiting state power. Too bad neither the right nor the left seem very interested in that.”

September 26, 2008

MICHAEL SILENCE: Hey Congressman Frank, what happened in five years?

September 26, 2008

PARTY LIKE IT’S 1929: “Some 258 parties, a number of them hosted by lobbyists for the finance, insurance, and real estate industries, have been thrown for members of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee this year, according to an investigation by the Sunlight Foundation’s Party Time project.” (Via Taxing Tennessee).