October 31, 2008
ARNOLD IN OHIO: Work on those pecs, Barack.
ARNOLD IN OHIO: Work on those pecs, Barack.
THE INSTAPUNDIT TAKE ON TAXES: With all the talk about spreading the wealth around, let’s revisit this Robert Heinlein quote:
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded â€” here and there, now and then â€” are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as “bad luck.”
I’m just, you know, sayin’ . . . . (Bumped).
MORE ON THOSE SUSPICIOUS JOE THE PLUMBER BACKGROUND CHECKS: It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup:
Vanessa Niekamp said that when was asked to run a child-support check on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher on Oct. 16, she thought it routine. A supervisor told her the man had contacted the state agency about his case.
Niekamp didn’t know she just had checked on “Joe the Plumber,” who was elevated the night before to presidential politics prominence as Republican John McCain’s example in a debate of an average American.
The senior manager would not learn about “Joe” for another week, when she said her boss informed her and directed her to write an e-mail stating her computer check was a legitimate inquiry.
The reason Niekamp said she was given for checking if there was a child-support case on Wurzelbacher does not match the reason given by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Keep digging, guys.
THE POLIWOOD SHOW: Looking at Woody Allen’s decline. Free to everybody.
CURRENTLY ON DRUDGE: “ZOGBY SATURDAY: McCain outpolled Obama 48% to 47% in Friday, one day, polling. He is beginning to cut into Obama’s lead among independents, is now leading among blue collar voters, has strengthened his lead among investors and among men, and is walloping Obama among NASCAR voters. Joe the Plumber may get his license after all.”
Hmm. Polls sure do seem volatile this season.
MICHAEL MALONE: Note To The President: The Care And Feeding Of Entrepreneurship.
ANN ALTHOUSE is liveblogging Halloween.
THE 900 CLUB: Pictures of the world’s heaviest people.
ADVICE ON making every dollar count in tough economic times. Of course, if you make every dollar count when times aren’t so tough, you can save more money to tide you over when they are . . . .
IT’S COMPLEX: Melatonin and aging.
A ROUNDUP: The Pension Fund Problem to Come. Some places, it’s already arrived. And this part seems right to me: “Americans and politicians have an erroneous view that stocks are for ‘rich people’ and not them. Wall Street remains a mysterious world, operated largely behind closed doors by mad scientist math wizards. The pension problem proves nothing could be farther from the truth. The teachers, cops and other government workers who trust their retirement to companies such as CalPERs may suddenly take a keen interest in equities.”
Plus this: Colo. public employee pension fund plunges $10B. “Colorado PERA had been hoping that investment gains would help resolve its long-term underfunding problem.” I’ll bet they had. Hope is not a plan.
UPDATE: Taxpayers To Fund Public Pension Shortfalls. “While most people have watched their 401K values drop with the stock market over the past several weeks, taxpayers may have spend millions more propping up pensions paid to county and state retirees.” I don’t think that will play well, politically.
SPY ROBOTS in California prisons. At least they don’t draw expensive pensions.
COMING: A Caracas on the Potomac? Let’s hope not.
POLISHING UP the Apple TV.
CAR LUST: Remembering the Lotus Esprit S1/S2. With James Bond video that’s not bad, though it would be better if it had more Barbara Bach.
THIS SOUNDS PROMISING: Ethanol Innovation Turns Wood Into Sugar at Room Temperature.
I’M GUESSING THAT CITY-PROVIDED CARS FOR BIGSHOTS ARE STILL THERE, THOUGH: California Cities Cut Police Budgets. Note the pressure from overly generous pension benefits they now can’t afford. Oh, well: If they loosen their gun laws maybe they won’t need as many police.
More on those underfunded public pensions here.
DINING AT the taxpayer buffet.
MEGAN MCARDLE: “One of the continuing problems with trying to straighten out the mortgage mess is that it’s really hard to arrange a workout on a securitized mortgage, because the organization that collects the payment is not the organization that ultimately owns the payment stream; its just a hired manager.”
FIGURING OUT EXTRATERRESTRIALS with lessons from Neanderthals.
KARL OKAMOTO: After the Bailout: Regulating Systemic Moral Hazard.
WHY THE REALLY RICH LOVE SOCIALISTS: “The ugly truth is that the really wealthy can manipulate the political system to their own ends better than ordinary people. They can lobby for specific tax breaks that only they can take advantage of. They can get government trade protection for their companies. They can get bailouts.”
FROM REP. CHRIS CARNEY, a ringing defense of earmarks!
NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Research challenges for the diamondoid mechanosynthesis path to advanced nanotechnology.
IN THE MAIL: Sarah Hoyt’s Gentleman Takes a Chance. With a nice cover-blurb from Jerry Pournelle.
UPDATE: Sarah Hoyt emails: “Thank you for the mention in the in-the-mail. I check instapundit first thing every morning for news and it was a wonderful surprise.” And so was this email, as I had no idea that Sarah Hoyt was an InstaPundit reader.
THE NUMBER ONE VIDEO ON YOUTUBE is from an Iraq veteran, addressed to Barack Obama.
THEY TOLD ME THAT IF GEORGE W. BUSH WERE RE-ELECTED, journalists would be punished for straying from the party line. And they were right! “Journalists from three major newspapers that endorsed John McCain have reportedly been booted from Barack Obama’s campaign plane for the final leg of the presidential race.”
SLATE SUGGESTS THAT Obama is lying about his inability to identify small donors:
Barack Obama refuses to release the names of the 2 million-plus people who have given his campaign less than $200. According to campaign officials, it would be too difficult and time-consuming to extract this information from its database.
So how come we were able to do it in a couple hours? Not literallyâ€”we don’t have access to the campaign’s list of donorsâ€”but we created a database of similar size and format in a Web-ready file and posted it online . . . But before we get into the technical details (though, if you’re with the Obama campaign and want to skip ahead, please do), it’s worth dwelling on the reasons for the Obama campaign’s reluctance to disclose this information. It can’t be legal: No law prevents Obama from releasing these names.
Yeah, uncharitable people might think the Obama campaign is hiding something.
RICH HAILEY: The Politics of Power: Are You a Citizen or a Subject? “If a man owns your house, your bank account, your job, and your health care, he owns you. Period. Just ask a coal miner from West Virginia about the company store.”
Some related thoughts here: “The more expensive housing is, the more politicians can buy votes by offering to make it more affordable (via cheap credit, lower down payment requirements, etc.); same with education. Notice a pattern? Government distortions increase costs of living, and politicians run for government on promises not to remove those distortions, but to add new distortions that will supposedly ameliorate those high costs.”
READER TANYA WRITES: “You linked to the Living Colour video and wrote that McCain should have used that as a response to Obama’s infomercial, but I think this one would have been even better:”
FRED THOMPSON WILL BE ON MEET THE PRESS, adding fuel to the RNC Chair rumors.
BARACK OBAMA AND AYN RAND: Reader Edward Clark emails:
Obama seems to have taken note of the John Galt talk. He recently made the comment that McCain was trying to make a virtue out of selfishness.
I seem to recall another Ayn Rand book called The Virtue of Selfishness. Maybe he is hoping for people to Go John Galt for some unknown reason.
UPDATE: Understanding the virtue of selfishness!
MICHAEL YON: A moment of opportunity for the New Media. “As budget cuts increasingly turn old media organs into fish wrap, the alternative media must be ready to take advantage.”
THE JOHN GALT CHRONICLES: Should you tip less under an Obama Administration?
Well, under an Obama Administration, nobody will have to worry about gas bills or mortgage payments, so who needs tip money anyway?
FROM DAVE KOPEL: A Second Amendment Voter Guide.
FROM AMERICANS FOR TAX REFORM, a political 401(k) calculator:
THE HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE is working again. Yay!
MICHAEL BARONE: Election Prediction: Democrats Won’t Get a Filibuster-Proof Senate. I hope he’s right.
OBAMA’S INFOMERCIAL: Only slightly better ratings than Ross Perot’s.
MURTHA’S IN TROUBLE: Veteran Democratic Rep. John Murtha (Pa.) has sent out a last-minute plea for $1 million to save his hotly contested seat, endangered by his own remarks describing his district as racist.
If you’d like to help his opponent, the website is here.
No this isn’t a harbinger of InstaPundit political endorsements. But it is a case of following Robert Heinlein’s advice to vote against candidates, even when you can’t find one worth voting for . . . .
UPDATE: Reader William Aronstein emails:
You make it sound as if you don’t think Colonel Bill Russell is a candidate worth voting for!
Is that what you really think?
No, sorry. I think he’s fine. Though just not being John Murtha would be enough. . . .
MORE MEDIA RETRENCHMENT: CBS swings to $12.46B 3Q loss after hefty charge.
PRICING SIGNALS WORK (CONT’D): As Gas Prices Go Down, Driving Goes Up. When things get more expensive, people do them less — but when things get less expensive, people do them more! What could explain this phenomenon? It’s a mystery!
ANDREW MCCARTHY: The Los Angeles Timesâ€™s Strange Notion of Journalistic Ethics.
HOW FAR TO THE LEFT would Obama’s judicial appointments go, and would they be as obviously biased as Ruth Marcus’s linking?
KARL ROVE: Don’t Let the Polls Affect Your Vote: They were wrong in 2000 and 2004. Yeah, vote how you want. Why wouldn’t you?
A PREDICTION: “If Barack Obama becomes President-Elect next week, don’t expect any of the snide anti-american Brits, Aussie and others to change their tune. They’ve had a hate figure in Bush for the past eight years, and I don’t doubt that Barack Obama will become an equal hate figure within a short amount time.”
Brian Micklethwait disagrees.
PJTV: BEN SHAPIRO on the Khalidi / Obama tape, and the demonstration at the Los Angeles Times offices. Free, with no registration required.
AN HP MINI-NOTE FOR $299: Randy Barnett emails: “Given your interest in mini-notebooks, I thought this would interest you, though it is the Linux version.” Yeah, that’s a good deal. I’ve got the Vista version of the Mini-Note and it’s kinda slow (because of Vista!) but has a great display, good battery life, and a terrific keyboard. The Linux version is probably a lot faster, but I assume the display, battery, and keyboard are the same. This model has flash memory instead of a hard drive, which is faster and more rugged but has a lot less storage. Then again, I’ve hardly used the space on my Mini-Note. I’d say it’s probably a good alternative to an Asus Eee PC – better keyboard and display for the same price.
SHOULD INSTAPUNDIT BECOME A POLITICAL MACHINE? Reader Alex Paul writes:
I’m a loyal reader of your blog and glad to see you doing so well in terms visits and page views as you posted with law professor blog link today.
One thing I would ask you to consider, or at least explain, is why you don’t provide more direction for fellow libertarians on what candidates to support financially. See this post.
My guess is that you could be a real force in promoting libertarian candidates–those that share your ideals–whether they be in the Republican party or elsewhere. After the Obama win on Tuesday, there will be an opportunity to dramatically shape the conversation about what the opposition role should be. For the good of the country, I am guessing that you want to direct that towards a principled libertarian opposition. With your presence in the blogsphere, you have the ability to shape that by asking support for those candidates, at whatever level of government, who fellow libertarians highlight to you, from your regular readers.
Well, I’ve never endorsed candidates, really, and certainly never tried to run any sort of organized fundraising program. There’s a niche for that — a sort of counter-Kos — but I’m not sure I’m the guy to be picking winners and directing donations. As Clint Eastwood says, “A man’s gotta know his limitations.” What do you folks think?
REASON TV: Where’s My Bailout?
AN OBAMA ENDORSEMENT from Tom Smith: “Some may say, and you call yourself a libertarian. But I have decided I can be a kind of statist, big government, expansive regulation, high taxing, low investing, industrial policy, aggressive PC enforcing sort of libertarian. If you look at libertarians for Obama, I would hardly be the first. . . . It’s not so bad really. It feels kind of like when you wake up in the morning and your mind is kind of blank, but in a peaceful sort of way. Rather nice, really. You know, healing.”
A REASON not to dump your PlayStation 2.
SO IT’S BEEN THREE YEARS since I bought the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, and about 60,000 miles, and I’m still very happy with it. It’s still pretty much the experience that I noted here. The interior and exterior still look like new, and the mileage is still good, something I particularly appreciated when gas prices spiked recently. Nothing has broken, and it’s very pleasant to drive. My only annoyance is that if you start the engine, then quickly reach down and move the selector from Park to Drive or Reverse you get an annoying “Shift to P Before Starting” message and have to restart. Apparently, it takes the computer about two or three seconds to boot, and if you shift out of P before that it thinks you were always in gear and refuses to start.
Of course, I have a 2006 model, and it’s been redesigned for 2008 so I don’t know how much this transfers over. But here’s a review of the 2008 model. And here’s another long-term report on the earlier Highlander Hybrid.
PAUL JOHNSON: A moral crisis, not a financial one.
INVESTIGATING Countrywide Mortgage and Chris Dodd. Plus Kent Conrad and a host of others.
NERDFIGHTERS! I love this bit: “I was sitting in the back, taking notes old-style for this post, when I noticed that every fifth person in the audience was recording it on their phones.” Thus, YouTube does the work. Is this the 21st Century, or what?
IF I WERE JOHN MCCAIN’S CAMPAIGN, I would have just bought enough time to run this video after Obama’s infomercial. Just enough time to add “I’m John McCain and I approved this message” at the end and keep it at 5 minutes . . .
DEBATING AN auto industry bailout. I’m against it, myself.
WILL CHINA BE THE NEW ELECTRIC-CAR MECCA? It has to be.
HOW TO ENCOURAGE ORGAN DONATION.
WHAT COMES AFTER BATTERIES?
SPREADING THE WEALTH ALREADY?
The OECD, the organization of western economies, says the U.S. already has the second most progressive tax system among its members, trailing only Ireland.
Maybe there might be other ways to spread the wealth besides the tax system.
Or maybe we’re already doing that, too. Remember, no matter what we do, half the households in America will be below the median income.
DUDE, HERE’S YOUR RECESSION? After a year of talk, actual GDP contraction last quarter. “Gross domestic product contracted at a 0.3 percent annual pace, less than forecast, a Commerce Department report showed today in Washington.”
WAITING IN LONG LINES for a shot at an I.R.S. job. It’s a way to help people!
CBS: Obama’s numbers don’t add up: “If he closes every loophole as promised, saves every dime from Iraq, raises taxes on the rich and trims the federal budget as he’s promised to do ‘line by line,’ he still doesn’t pay for his list.” So if he can’t do what he’s promised, he’ll do something else. But what?
TODD ZYWICKI on what’s happening to the libertarian vote.
ESQUIRE INTERVIEWS White Supremacists for Obama. Plus, one black separatist for McCain!
RANKING LAW PROFESSOR BLOGS by traffic. Not sure what the point is, but hey. . . .
IN THE MAIL: Jeff Madrick’s The Case for Big Government. With blurbs from Ted Kennedy and Barney Frank! A manifesto for an Obama administration . . . .
Maryland will scrap its $65 million electronic system and go back to paper ballots in time for the 2010 midterm elections — and will still be paying for the abandoned system until 2014. In Virginia, localities are moving to paper after the General Assembly voted last year to phase out electronic voting machines as they wear out.
It was just a few years ago that electronic voting machines were heralded as a computerized panacea to the hanging chad, a state-of-the-art system immune to the kinds of hijinks and confusion that some say make paper ballots vulnerable. But now, after concern that the electronic voting machines could crash or be hacked, the two states are swinging away from the systems, saying paper ballots filled out by hand are more reliable, especially in a recount.
Couldn’t have said it better myself. But I said it earlier! Related items here and here. Plus, Ed Cone interviews Bruce Schneier on voting machine security. Schneier also has a new book on security; I haven’t read it, but I’m a fan of his in general.
FOUAD AJAMI: Obama And The Politics of Crowds. “We think of places like Argentina and Egypt and Iran, of multitudes brought together by their zeal for a Peron or a Nasser or a Khomeini. In these kinds of societies, the crowd comes forth to affirm its faith in a redeemer: a man who would set the world right.” Of course, Sarah Palin has been drawing huge crowds, too. Do people see her as a redeemer?
A COMPLAINT ABOUT EARLY VOTING: “It is becoming more obvious with each election cycle that that the widespread adoption of no-excuses-needed early voting has been a big mistake.” I’m not so sure. Early voting makes life a lot easier on people who actually hold jobs. I think we want to be sure that those people get a chance to vote.
IN PAKISTAN, TURNING THE TRIBES AGAINST THE TALIBAN: “As Islamic radicals have so often done over the centuries, their violence and abrasive attitudes eventually turn most Moslems against them, and that’s exactly what is happening here.” I hope the effort succeeds.
A KEY SUPPORTER FLIPS! OCTOBER SURPRISE: UFO ALIEN NOW ENDORSES McCAIN! “In a shocking reversal with major implications for the U.S. presidential election, political kingmaker, the Alien has switched his endorsement from Barack Obama to John McCain amid furor. Both political camps are buzzing about the implications, as the Alien has correctly predicted the winning president in every election for the past 28 years.” Apparently, Cindy McCain is willing to do whatever it takes to help her husband out.
MARK STEYN: “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 yet an old cranky broke loser is within two or three points of the King of the World. Strange.”
The Anchoress thinks it’s because America is already a post-racial society.
ASSOCIATED PRESS: “Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was less than upfront in his half-hour commercial Wednesday night about the costs of his programs and the crushing budget pressures he would face in office.”
I DIDN’T WATCH OBAMA’S INFOMERCIAL LAST NIGHT (I was watching PJTV!) — I was hoping for a review by Ann Althouse, but she had better things to do, too — but it got a bad review from top infomercial stars. Not sure it’s really the same market, though. Anyway, Althouse has video if you’re interested. (First link via JWF).
UPDATE: “All Sham, No Wow.”
HEH: Snow blankets London for Global Warming debate. “Snow fell as the House of Commons debated Global Warming yesterday – the first October fall in the metropolis since 1922.”
IN THE LATEST EDITION OF “WASHINGTON WATCH,” I talk with Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute, author of Global Tax Revolution: The Rise of Tax Competition and the Battle to Defend It, Nick Gillespie of Reason and Reason TV and UCLA Law Professor Stephen Bainbridge, author of The New Corporate Governance in Theory and Practice, who blogs at ProfessorBainbridge.com. We discuss whether the bailout was necessary, what’s happening with state government finances (the news is mostly bad), and what’s going on with the defection of conservative legal figures like Doug Kmiec and Charles Fried. Plus, is there a future for libertarians in the Republican Party? It’s free to everyone with registration.
ANOTHER cool, tiny laptop: “Packing the latest 1.6-GHz Atom processor and a roomy 80-GB drive, the Wind boasts some legit PC cred. Yes, your iPod probably has more drive space, but the Wind is also running good old Windows XP, saving you from the frustrations of Vista, a Linux learning curve or (perish the thought) the laughably underpowered Win CE.”
SOREN DAYTON: The Obama-Frank defense cuts create an opening.
RASMUSSEN: McCain Trusted More on Taxes and Economy. Given how much damage he’s taken over the economic crisis — which knocked him out of the lead a few weeks back — this seems like news. Then again, all poll results should be taken with several extra grains of salt this time around, it seems . . . .
Plus this: “McCain is certainly outperforming the Republican Party when it comes to voter trust.” Well, he’d better.
MAYBE SOMEBODY SHOULD SPREAD SOME WEALTH AROUND IN HIS OWN FAMILY: Obama Aunt Found in Rundown Boston Slum.
Zeituni Onyango, the aunt so affectionately described in Mr Obamaâ€™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 â€œUncle Omarâ€ described in the book was beaten by armed robbers with a â€œsawed-off rifleâ€ 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 (Â£1,488) arrears, according to the Boston Housing Court.
Funny how you have to go to the British papers — in this case the London Times — for this kind of story.
Bob Krumm emails: “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 didnâ€™t try to help her.” He has a post here to that effect.
UPDATE: Some thoughts from TigerHawk: ” I have finally figured out why somebody who has been as successful as Barack Obama believes that the government must help people who cannot or do not help themselves: He simply does not understand that helping the poor, unlucky, or incompetent is first the responsibility of family.”
Plus this: “He has used these people — his grandmother, his aunt and uncle, and so forth — as props in his political narrative. He wants us to measure him in part by his relationship to these Kenyans, but — and here is the harsh part — only as that relationship is described by him. What if his characterization of that relationship is misleading? What if it turns out that while he is delighted to cite these people as evidence of his humble beginnings — that is what I mean by using them as props — he is not so delighted to consider them as part of his family? Is that not at least a potentially useful insight into the character of this man about whom we know so little?”
ANOTHER UPDATE: Ann Althouse defends Obama and quotes the Bible.
ANOTHER VOTER FRAUD SCANDAL:
Congressman John Hall (D-Dover Plains) fired one of his long-time campaign advisers Tuesday, after learning that sheâ€™s embroiled in voter fraud investigations in Ohio. Amy Little, 49, has been a registered Democrat in New York since 1991, and Ulster County election officials said she voted in the party primary here in February.
But in October, Little registered to vote in Ohio.
DEWEY THE LIBRARY CAT. Kind of a cat version of Rescuing Sprite.
WHAT IF STEVE FORBES had won in 2000? I confess I hadn’t given that much thought.
HEH: Tina Fey: Palin offered to have her daughter babysit my kid. Kinda nice, really.