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DAVID STEINBERG: Rigging The Future: Obamacare Creates 50 New State Databases With No Function Beyond Gathering Potential Voter Information, Real or Fraudulent. “These new databases mail out voter registration forms automatically. You cannot refuse them. No worthwhile verification occurs before the forms are mailed. Apply for Medicaid and the form will be mailed to you, be you a verifiable citizen or Ayman al-Zawahiri on a computer in Pakistan. Further, these new databases are accessible by groups like Organizing For America, the reconstituted ACORN, and malevolent figures like Chris Tarango. And no reasonable purpose exists for creating the databases besides making them available to the aforementioned Democratic activists.”

JONAH GOLDBERG ON THAT OTHER ROGER SIMON: “Simon’s column reminds me of a point I’ve been making for years. Most mainstream journalists roll their eyes at the idea the MSM is biased. It’s a tired argument, I know. But it’s simply remarkable that when supposedly objective reporters move on to the opinion column racket they reveal themselves as utterly conventional liberal Democrats. When any longtime New York Times reporter rewarded with a column at the Times or elsewhere — Nick Kristoff, Bill Keller, Maureen Dowd, Anthony Lewis, EJ Dionne et al. — rips off the mask it turns out that they were exactly as liberal as conservatives suspected. . . . Just going by the law of averages, some of these reporters should turn out to be conservative or libertarian or at least ideologically heterodox. But it almost never happens. Indeed, when the Times needs to find a conservative columnist (Bill Safire, David Brooks, Ross Douthat) it always has to hire outside its own shop. Jay Carney got his job working for Joe Biden, and later, Barack Obama because his employers knew from the get-go that the Time reporter was ideologically simpatico with the administration. The same goes for Linda Douglas, not to mention Richard Stengel, Shailagh Murray, and many others. I wonder if any of them ever feel insulted when Democratic politicians just assume that supposedly objective reporters would make great partisan hacks?” Nope. They’re grateful that someone noticed.

THIS IS HARDLY A SURPRISE, AT CUNY: Communist Groups Helped Organize Petraeus Protest. “Protests against General David Petraeus Monday by CUNY students were organized by an ad hoc committee that includes several Communist groups. A leaflet for the protests, which refers to Petraeus as a ‘war criminal’ and ‘mass murderer,’ says that the events were organized by the Ad Hoc Committee Against the Militarization of CUNY and were endorsed by the Internationalist Group, Workers Power-US, and IGNITE. These groups are explicitly Communist in nature.” Where were the Sparts?

I think right-leaning groups should similarly hound Hillary and other Obama Administration apparatchiks — including Obama himself, when he ventures onto campuses, both now and post-Presidency. The standard of behavior has been established. Let them live with it.

DAVID FRENCH: Our Pathetic Support For Muslim Oppression.

BUT WE WERE PROMISED “SMART DIPLOMACY!” The Utter Chaos of the Obama Administration’s Egypt Policy.

DAVID FRENCH: IRS Abuse — More Widespread than the Media Comprehend. Or are willing to admit, anyway.

THE HILL: Holder On The Ropes:

Attorney General Eric Holder is in the midst of perhaps the most serious challenge of his career over his department’s investigation of government leaks to journalists.

The battle-scarred head of the Justice Department (DOJ) weathered a House vote placing him in contempt of Congress in President Obama’s first term, but is now facing mounting criticism from figures in both parties as well as scornful scrutiny from the media.

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are investigating whether he lied to the panel under oath, while David Axelrod —Obama’s former chief political strategist — this week called Justice’s investigation of a Fox reporter “disturbing.” Liberal pundit Bill Press said Holder should resign.

White House press secretary Jay Carney was peppered with several questions Wednesday about Holder, and responded that Obama has “confidence” in the attorney general. Obama believes Holder is “doing a good job,” Carney said.

Well, everybody knows that when the President has “confidence” in you, your job is safe!

GEORGE WILL: Benghazi attack was not “a movie review conducted with rocket propelled grenades.”

Related: Whistleblower Hicks, a Democrat, voted for Obama and guess who else? “Gregory Hicks, who served as deputy chief of mission in Libya during the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, voted for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary election and Barack Obama in the last two general elections.” Nah, he’s still a rightwing shill. Gotta be.

Related: Sen. McCain calls Benghazi a ‘cover-up.’

Also: Joseph Curl: Watch out for Petraeus in Benghazi scandal. “Jay Carney looked almost ashen Friday as he took the podium to face a suddenly invigorated press corps. Of course, the public briefing came after a private session with ‘reporters who matter,’ a sure sign the White House is in full hunker-down mode — and, more precisely, terrified. . . . With the White House putting all blame on the agency, expect push back this week — nuclear push back. Gen. David H. Petraeus, the former director forced to resign after a sex scandal, is a dangerous man to the Obama administration. Mad and intent on getting even, he’s already talking, telling one reporter the talking points were “useless” and that he preferred not to use them at all. The floodgates will open this week, and by the end of business Friday, the scandal will be full blown.”

Well, stay tuned.

JIM TREACHER: That Mitch McConnell audio must’ve been a bombshell after all, because the Democrats are scrambling to defuse it. “Just last Wednesday, Paul Farhi of the Washington Post declared that David Corn and Mother Jones had probably ‘struck gold.’ Now they’re all trying to scrape it off their shoes.”

JOURNALISM: Investigation: Why did David Corn Run with a False McConnell Tape Transcript?

UH OH: Wow, bombshell in McConnell bugging case. Progress Kentucky behind the recording?

Professor Jacobson observes: “This is the same Democratic PAC which ran racist ads against McConnell’s wife. . . . If this holds up, it is very, very big time, and on its face appears to be a violation of law.”

It’s certainly an indication that the Dems are revving up the dirty-tricks machine for 2014.

UPDATE: David Corn not talking.

DAVID FRENCH: Marry Young? Marry Old? Marry When You Have the Character to Marry. “You’re old enough to marry when you possess enough wisdom, character, and emotional maturity to recognize that you are no longer the center of the universe, and you can and should love another person more than you love yourself. There are 16-year-olds who understand this, and there are 60-year-olds who do not. But in this era of ever-longer childhoods (for some people, 24 is their grandfather’s 14), many of us are delaying the most basic elements of emotional maturity well past previous generations.”

MORE QUESTIONS FOR DAVID CORN.

JAMES TARANTO: Slinging Mud at Ashley Judd: A leftist magazine exposes a Hollywood actress as troubled and strange.

Yesterday Mother Jones’s David Corn published an exposé that shows Judd to be every bit as peculiar as her vulgar Malthusian musings lead one to expect. “I freak out in airports,” Corn quotes Judd as saying. “The last time I came home from a trip, I absolutely flipped out when I saw pink fuzzy socks on a rack. I mean, I can never anticipate what is going to push me over the edge.”

Her ideas about religion are odd, too: “I have to expand my God concept from time to time,” Corn quotes Judd as saying, “and you know particularly I enjoy native faith practices, and have a very nature-based God concept. I’d like to think I’m like St. Francis in that way. Brother Donkey, Sister Bird.”

Corn provides some context here, noting that “Judd was referring to well-known stories about St. Francis [of Assisi], who once preached a sermon to birds–‘my little sisters’–and who referred to his own body as the ‘Brother Donkey.’ ” Fair enough, but it’s still pretty weird for a Hollywood actress to compare herself to St. Francis.

Judd isn’t just eccentric, according to Corn, but has a history of mental illness, including suicidal ideation while in the sixth grade and a 42-day hospitalization for clinical depression as an adult.

But the Corn exposé is bizarre in its own way. For one thing, it doesn’t actually reveal anything new about Judd. While the facts Corn presents about her may come as news to a low-information entertainment consumer such as this columnist, they were already on the record. The quotes above come from a public speech, and the information about her medical history is from a memoir she published in 2011.

For another, since she isn’t running for office, it’s difficult to imagine any reason other than sheer sensationalism why Judd’s eccentricities and infirmities would be of interest to readers of a political magazine like Mother Jones.

Indeed. Have you no decency?

DAVID CORN AS E. HOWARD HUNT?

David Corn at Mother Jones has lots of audio clips and transcript, but he doesn’t tell us who made the tape and gave it to him. Surveillance on a political campaign? If that’s not bad, should we revise our opinion about the Watergate burglary?

Corn would like us to think he’s got material that’s quite nefarious, because “McConnell and his aides considered assaulting Judd for her past struggles with depression and for her religious views.” But doesn’t every campaign brainstorm about everything that could possibly be used?

No, that’s not the right comparison. Corn presumably isn’t the bugger, but is like whatever sympathetic (or duped) journalist they would have peddled the discoveries from the Watergate bugs to, if that plan had worked. But that raises other questions:

Either this kind of bugging is acceptable or it’s not. I’m surprised Corn went forward with it when the material isn’t even shocking. It’s actually quite bland… in comparison to what I assume is batted around within all the various campaigns as they decide how to attack opponents. Can we get transcripts of all that crap? I’d love to blog it.

Suddenly, I realize why Corn may believe this material is worth printing: These are attacks on a sweet and pretty lady. Corn’s decision to publish is — ironically — evidence of sexism.

Politics ain’t beanbag, we’re told — at least when the “sweet and pretty lady” is Sarah Palin.

Plus, from the comments: “I’d like to hear secret tapes of what Ashley Judd says about America, Americans, and Kentuckians. McConnell’s campaign was only looking at material SHE put out for public consumption.”

MORE: A reader emails: “So is Corn for the LA times releasing the Khalidi tape?” Heh. I bet I know the answer.

JIM TREACHER: The Bob Woodward story isn’t important. That’s why liberals and the media (PTR) are losing their minds over it.

Related: Remember: They’re not attacking Bob Woodward because they think he’s lying. They’re attacking him because they think he’s telling the truth.

UPDATE: Pattern and practice: Lanny Davis: Obama White House Threatened Washington Times Over My Column.

Well, thuggishness is their style. Nice to see it getting reported, at least.

MORE: All The President’s Thugs.

Plus: David Freddoso: If you don’t want to be badmouthed, stop saying things unhelpful to our president.

MORE STILL: Politico has the emails.

John Podhoretz comments: “It would take a great semiologist to unpack the false professions of friendship and anger and source protection here.”

Stephen Green: “Already, day and night, the producers and crew at NBC News are deceptively editing old video to make it appear as though it were Woodward who ordered Alderaan to be destroyed, and right after Rachel Maddow had told him everything he wanted to know, too.”

STILL MORE: Deep Threats: “Who thinks this will end well? The White House’s escalating war with Bob Woodward has major ramifications for all involved — not least the president whom Woodward believes wouldn’t approve of his own aides’ tactics. President Obama has chosen to make two major points in the sequester stand-off: That the pain is going to be awful, and that it’s all Republicans’ fault. Woodward calls the latter into question, with the reporting he’s decided to aggressively and publicly defend. As for the former, with Mayor Michael Bloomberg giving a rhetorical eye-roll to the White House, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan on record exaggerating about teacher pink slips that haven’t been issued, let’s just say credulity is being strained.”

USA Today: “All we can say is: We know more than a few reporters have received similar e-mails from White House officials. Yelling has also been known to happen.”

YET MORE: Ron Fournier: Yeah, I Got the Abusive Treatment From the WH and the Same ‘You Will Regret This’ Threat.

ROBERT VERBRUGGEN BUSTS David Frum’s Ignorance On Guns.

DAVID FRENCH: David Gregory and the Decline of the Rule of Law. “Of course prosecuting Mr. Gregory would have been sad and — on many levels — absurd, but so is the law under which he would have been prosecuted. In fact, if absurdity were a defense to prosecutions or other adverse legal actions, an enormous swathe of our regulatory state would be swept away. Can we even speak of the rule of law as a meaningful concept when we combine an explosive regulatory state with near-absolute prosecutorial discretion?”

LIFE WHEN YOU’RE NOT DAVID GREGORY: D.C. prosecutes ordinary Americans for ‘high-capacity’ magazines.

The Washington Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) inquiry into whether NBC’s David Gregory possession on national TV of an illegal 30-round “high-capacity” magazine has been ongoing for three weeks. Meanwhile, U.S. Army veteran James Brinkley is still grappling with the fallout from his arrest last year on the same charge.

Mr. Brinkley’s story is just one example of at least 105 individuals who, unlike Mr. Gregory, were arrested in 2012 for having a magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds.

On Sept. 8, Mr. Brinkley says he intended to drop his wife and young children at the White House for a tour and then head to a shooting range to practice for the U.S. Marshals Service test. Just like Mr. Gregory, Mr. Brinkley called MPD in advance for guidance on how he could do this legally. Mr. Brinkley was told that the gun had to be unloaded and locked in the trunk, and he couldn’t park the car and walk around.

Unlike Mr. Gregory, Mr. Brinkley followed the police orders by placing his Glock 22 in a box with a big padlock in the trunk of his Dodge Charger. The two ordinary, 15-round magazines were not in the gun, and he did not have any ammunition with him.

As he was dropping off his family at 11 a.m. on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue, Mr. Brinkley stopped to ask a Secret Service officer whether his wife could take the baby’s car seat into the White House. The officer saw Mr. Brinkley had an empty holster, which kicked off a traffic stop that ended in a search of the Charger’s trunk. Mr. Brinkley was booked on two counts of “high capacity” magazine possession (these are ordinary magazines nearly everywhere else in the country) and one count of possessing an unregistered gun.

Despite the evidence Mr. Brinkley had been legally transporting the gun, his attorney Richard Gardiner said the D.C. Office of the Attorney General “wouldn’t drop it.” This is the same office now showing apparent reluctance to charge Mr. Gregory.

In Obama’s America it’s all about the juice. Gregory has juice. Brinkley doesn’t. I talk about cases like Brinkley’s in my Second Amendment Penumbras article. Meanwhile, next time Brinkley should take along one of these:

I WAS GOING TO WRITE SOMETHING MORE ABOUT DAVID GREGORY AND HIS MEDIA DEFENDERS LIKE HOWARD KURTZ, but David French has it covered:

Thank you, David Gregory.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then your stunt is worth a thousand op-eds. In less than one minute of screen time, you demonstrated several things:

First, even “banned” magazines are ridiculously easy to acquire. How long did it take your producers to find that magazine? Five minutes? Ten minutes? There are millions upon millions of these cheap and easy-to-manufacture items in circulation, and “banning” them will have exactly the effects you so brilliantly demonstrated on national television.

Second, labyrinthine gun-control restrictions serve mainly to instantly (and often inadvertently) convert otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals. It’s a media-created myth that guns are largely unregulated in the United States. In fact, they’re so heavily and complexly regulated that it’s difficult for citizens to track jurisdictional differences or even sometimes to understand the laws in their own jurisdictions.

Third, strict-liability gun offenses breed disrespect for the law. I tend to agree with your friends in the mainstream media — prosecuting you for holding an empty magazine in your hand would be a travesty of justice. You weren’t going to hurt anyone, you were merely using a prop for an argument, and — after all — the magazine was simply an inert hunk of metal. But the law is the law, and I’m sure you’ll agree that you should be treated exactly the same as any other (previously) law-abiding citizen caught with a similar item.

Was Washington D.C. made more dangerous because you held that magazine? Of course not. Would your prosecution deter a single “real” criminal? Of course not. In fact, it would be a silly farce. But does the law deter responsible citizens and make them less likely to defend themselves adequately? Yes. And that’s the real travesty.

I should add that these laws are complicated and strict-liability precisely to provide an in terrorem disincentive for people to own guns at all. As I suggest in my Second Amendment Penumbras article, such an in terrorem purpose is not constitutionally legitimate now that gun ownership has been recognized as a constitutional right, and even burdens that might, in themselves, pass constitutional muster should fail if they’re part of a scheme — as they are — to chill people’s exercise of their constitutional rights.

But I’m not sure how much rational argument works on these people. So as a backup, here’s some more mockery:

AT MEDIAITE: Gun Control Debate Exposed The Media’s Bias, David Gregory Exposed Their Hypocrisy.

The media’s argument in favor of treating Gregory differently from any other citizen who does not anchor a popular Sunday news broadcast is, essentially, “come on! Really?” . . .

L’affaire de Gregory
has exposed an unseemly sense of entitlement in the elite media. If the post-Newtown debate over gun control has shown that the media is somewhat out of touch with average Americans, the Gregory episode has revealed that they do not see themselves as average Americans.

No, as oikophobes they most certainly do not.

UPDATE: Because I’m The Journalist And You’re Not.

Plus these thoughts from Jonah Goldberg:

Culturally, one of the things lots of Americans detest about the elite journalistic culture is the idea that reporters are above the law. Usually, this self-regard manifests itself in debates over revealing sources. Many journalists honestly believe they have special rights and privileges not enjoyed by all Americans. As a matter of law and logic, that’s not the case (which is why some journalists want to see the licensing of journalists). We all have the right to commit journalism.

This priestly caste attitude manifests itself in other ways as well. Hidden cameras were something to be celebrated when 60 Minutes pioneered them. When grubby bloggers do the same thing, it’s apparently repugnant.

Well, the First Amendment is for everyone, not people with degrees from the Columbia J-School. Likewise, the Second Amendment is for everyone. And what laws limit my constitutional right to bear arms, limit David Gregory’s too.

And here we have David Gregory breaking exactly the sorts of gun laws he’s advocating….

Yes, they think of themselves as part of the Ruling Class, with all the perquisites.

MORE: W.J.J. Hoge:

Of course, they can’t just come out and say it, but one of the reasons why the main stream media is pooh-pooh-ing l’affaire Gregory is that the idea that simple possession of an unloaded magazine being a crime is so mind-bogglingly stupid on its face that they understand the unfairness of it all at a gut level. Why should merely holding a metal box with a spring in it be punishable by a $1,000 fine and a year in jail?

Well, our betters passed that law, and now one of them has broken it.

And now we will see whether DC is a city ruled by laws or by men above the laws.

A warning: Those who are above the law are unable to hide behind it.

LAW, JOURNALISM, AND DOUBLE STANDARDS: David Gregory, Meet James O’Keefe.

Howard Kurtz dismisses the legal concerns. Gregory may have violated the law, but he was just engaged in a media stunt. ”I don’t think Gregory was planning to commit any crimes,” Kurtz writes — no crimes other than violating D.C.’s gun laws that is. But who cares if it was illegal, it was good TV! Tell that to James O’Keefe who, Kurtz may recall, was prosecuted for his own legal indiscretions when trying to film some stunts of his own. Prosecutors wisely allowed O’Keefe to plea to a minor charge, but he wasn’t let off the hook just because he was attempting act of journalism. Why should David Gregory and his NBC colleagues be held to a different standard?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall Kurtz springing to O’Keefe’s defense.

UPDATE: This is all over Facebook.

David Gregory Gun Crime

ANOTHER UPDATE: Guns And Posers: Why Isn’t David Gregory In Jail?

MORE: The David Gregory meme started at Legal Insurrection with this post: Feds and media jump to David Gregory’s defense as race card goes missing.

GROUND GAME: Paul Caron reports from Ohio: “Wife and I voted in Ohio when polls opened at 6:30 a.m. Campaign worker was there handing out Republican sample ballot. No one was there handing out Democratic sample ballot.”

UPDATE: Craig Hildreth reports from St. Louis: “29 minutes after the polls opened at 6:00 AM and the line is fifty people deep. The good news is I don’t see any broken glass.” Well, that’s a comfort.

And reader Daniel Richwine writes: “I live in a high percentage minority area in New jersey. Normally it takes me 5 minutes to vote. 4 years ago it took 1 and a half hours. Last governors race, 5 minutes. This time it took about 15.”

Reader Charles Gallo writes: “Never before seen a line to vote at 6:30am here on Queens NYC.”

And reader Steve Gregg writes from Vienna, in Northern Virginia: “There are three hundred or more voters here. Another fifty joined the line since I took this photo a minute ago. The line snakes out of the gym, down the hall, down another hall, around the corner, into another gym. I’ve been voting here for ten years and this line has about a hundred more voters than the biggest line I’ve ever seen.” Let’s hope they’re broken-glass voters. Here’s the pic he sent:

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Tom Kazazes sent this from Greenwich, CT at 5:45: “This is my third cycle voting at this location and I have never seen a line like this 15 minutes before voting commences. Meaning, who knows, just different than in past in a state which is a ‘lock’ for Obama.” Maybe somebody forgot to turn the key.

And reader Mike Collins writes: “Hello from Arlington VA, where our choice for local races is usually between a Dem and a Green. Anecdote from this morning: in 2008, my wife and I arrived at the polls at 5:30AM and were around 250th in line. Today we arrived at 5:50 and were around 40th in line. Take it for what it’s worth, but I think it’s a hopeful sign re: enthusiasm.”

Meanwhile, Jeff Carter reports from Chicago: “At Instapundit, they show lines in several places. In Chicago at my polling place there wasn’t a long line. I waited five minutes.”

And reader Jacques Vilar sends: “I was in line at my polling place (Gainesville, VA) – at 5:30am with 30 people in line. At 5:45, there were near 100. By the time the doors opened at 6:00, at least 200 people in line. By the time I voted and walked to my car, at least 500 people were in line.”

And Jim Gordon emails: “Here in White House, Tn in Sumner County, 70+ people Were in line before the doors opened at 7. Although this area’s ‘Redness’ is given, I find it encouraging that voters have come out this wet, cold morning to have their say.”

Plus, from reader Jon Prichard: “I’m hoping for ‘breaking dawn’ over twilight today. I always appreciate your ‘Don’t get cocky!’ admonition, but today is the time to go out and get it done, with confidence and high spirits. So I hope to pass along this message: ‘Today, don’t rest easy in the comfort of your echo chamber. Venture into the breach and be a megaphone!’ Thanks for the greatest blog in the world!” Thank me by voting.

Another Chicago voter, Sarah Fredricks, writes: “In my Chicago suburb, there was a line in 2008 when we arrived at 6:30 and it took about 30 minutes to vote. Today, no line and it would have taken 5 minutes, but there was a problem with the voting machine accepting ballots. The poll workers were professional and corrected the matter in a few minutes. There has not been the enthusiasm in Illinois this election cycle, very few Obama signs.”

And reader Doug Deal from Georgia reports “extremely long lines” in his precinct: “I decided to go to the polls first thing today and arrived at 7:05 AM, 5 minutes after they opened. I counted and I was about 120th in line. . . . the people in front of me did have a bit of a certain broken glass look to them. It is a fairly Republican precinct and it looks like that even in a non tossup state the GOP is turning out.”

Pittsburgh reader Roland Hess emails: “Voting in suburban Pittsburgh was easy. Decent line. Our precinct usually goes R, so that says not a lot. Was very disappointed in the lack of broken glass on the bridge between the parking lot and the polls though. It was too easy. After the last four years, I felt like I at least deserved a soundtrack, some slow-mo and a bit of drama as I pulled the lever. While watching election returns I make a point to drink whatever my preferred candidate drinks. So what do I drink tonight? Milk?”

It’s Tullamore Dew for me all the way. Loyalty has its limits.

Reader Mark Ludolph writes: “Reporting from a redish area in Blue Illinois. Longest wait I have ever encountered – an hour+. Not a single close race on the ballot, but huge turnout. Can’t imagine many Obama voters here.”

And reader Eric McErlain emails from Northern Virginia: “Got on line at 6:12, didn’t get out of polling place till almost 7.”

Plus, from Pitsburgh: “Take it for what it’s worth, but there was no line this morning at 8 in East Liberty, a heavily democratic area of Pittsburgh (probably 90+%). Four years ago, there was a 30+ minute line to vote there. Please don’t add my name if you print this, as I work there.” Perhaps one day America can have politics without fear. Easier if Obama loses, I suspect . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: David Kirkham emails: “Lines are 1 to 1 1/2 hours here in Utah. I have never waited anywhere close to that long. I think the entire state is going to vote for Romney. I predict Romney has very long coat tails in Utah which will help Mia Love unseat Matheson. It will be a tough day for Democrats in Utah (and, I hope, across the USA).”

Jim Ryals writes from Mandeville, Louisiana: “For the first time since we moved to Louisiana we had to stand in line to vote. The volunteers, most of whom have been doing this for years, said they’ve never seen anything like it. One person told me that normally, they would open up at 6 and get their first voter in about 7:15 or so. Today, people were line up into the parking lot when they opened. They got another wave at 7:30 that had people lined up out the doors. This is the most conservative parish in a red state, but if this is any indication, there is big, big momentum for Mitt.”

The redder the area, the longer the lines, it seems. But not always. A reader sends this from deep in the heart of machine-controlled St. Louis where turnout is heavy:

Here in the (heavily-Democrat, machine-controlled) City of St. Louis, the polling places are JAM-PACKED. All that reporting about Obama voters being discouraged and not showing up turns out to be hooey here. Republicans need to show up today and fight them back! Though, reports are that (conservative) St. Louis County polling places are also packed. I suspect many are there to vote in the Senate race, which is VERY heated in Missouri thanks to that idiot Todd Akin. If Obama manages to win Missouri, I think you can thank Todd Akin for that. He gave lackluster Claire all the ammunition she needed to get her base fired up and enthusiastic. Even my incredibly conservative rural family (evangelical Christians all) are waffling on voting for Akin because of the embarrassment of it all.

The other issue many people are citing re: their enthusiasm today? Marriage equality. It’s not on the ballot in Missouri, but nobody believes that Republicans won’t continue to work on oppressing gays; and a vote for Romney is a vote for social cons. (My sample may be skewed because I have so many gay friends, most of whom will disown me if they find out that I cast my Romney vote today.) If the GOP expects support in the future, if they expect to make ANY inroads into the under-35 crowd, they have got to get on board the marriage equality wagon, stop worrying about what everyone is doing in the privacy of their own homes, and just get the government out of the way so the economy can work. But of course, I’m pretty libertarian so I would say that.

If you publish this, don’t use my name because I’m a government employee and I need to keep sucking the taxpayer teat for a few more years, til my law school loans are paid off!

Praying for a Romney victory and a Republican Congress,

Well, we’ll see soon enough.

Meanwhile, reader Dan Koblosh sends this from Redondo Beach, California, one of Los Angeles’ redder areas: “Long line waiting for polling place to open. Can’t wait to vote for Romney and against Gov Moonbeam’s (Brown) tax hikes.”

Here’s a pic he includes:

And from Colorado, Mike Weatherford writes:

Just a bit of anecdotal data on voter turnout here in Colorado Springs, CO. My wife and I voted when we dropped off our youngest child at school, also the polling place. We were number 51 and 53 to vote. There was a line of at least fifteen people down the hall. The last time I voted, I voted at 4:30PM, and was number 120-something. Our district is mostly older families that have lived in the same neighborhood for 20-30 years, and are mostly staunch Republicans or Independents. I expect the number of voters in our district to reach the 200 mark, something I haven’t seen since Clinton won re-election.

Stay tuned. And reader Bob Sanders emails: “Longest line I’ve ever seen, Forward Township, Butler County. North of Pittsburgh. As I was casting my vote I overheard the man across from me talking with the Assistant who was helping him, ‘I don’t give a damn about the instructions, I’m voting straight Republican this time. Where do I click?'”

From reader Matthew Teague, who doesn’t give a location:

Today at the polls I met a “ground glass” voter.

He was in his early 50’s, and as he stood in line he was asking the election workers what documents he needed to vote. He said he hadn’t voted “since they started requiring all this annoying paperwork”. I asked him why he had let such a low hurdle trip him up, and his response is one I will never forget: “I didn’t really have a reason to vote before, everything was going fine and there was no reason to change it… until now”.

I’m hoping for a lot of this. reader Brad Scheidt sends this Oklahoma report:

Voting in South Tulsa County, Oklahoma is like nothing I’ve ever seen – ever. Waits over an hour, limited parking, lines out the door and down the sidewalk, etc. This is an area that will go Romney 3-1 easily. Can you say “enthusiasm”?

Like I said. Diana Sherlock writes: “Am in Studio City/North Hollywood area and never seen lines like this – around the bldg.” I assume that’s an Obama area, though I don’t really know. Jerry Pournelle lives around there. . . .

From Berks County, Pennsylvania, reader Eric Shelton reports:

At 7 am this morning there was already a 65 minute line in 25 degree weather. In 08 this County went 8.5% for Obama, given the number of Republican voters in line and Indys/Dems who freely admitted they were switching their vote this time, Berks isn’t looking good for the Prez.

People seem impressed with Mitt’s intelligence and kindness.

As they should be. From Manhattan, reader Meryl Levavi contrasts government with the private sector:

I went to vote at 9:15 this morning at the polling place on West 70th Street. The lines were moderately long. It took me 35 minutes to vote. A few blocks from Lincoln Center and Zabars the process was amazingly inefficient. Instead of posting a sample ballot or having someone walk the line with instructions the poll workers explained the ballot to each person individually. If I were on a line that length at the Trade Joe’s on 72nd Street and Broadway I would have my groceries packed and be out the door in 10 minutes.

Well, NYC isn’t looking especially efficient lately.

From southern New Hampshire, Nathaniel Jensen reports: “I just voted in Amherst – a staunch republican town of 10,000 in southern NH. Massive turnout at the high school unlike anything I’ve ever seen on election day. I take this to be a very good sign for Romney. May God and the people save our country!”

From Colorado, John Walker emails: “I voted this morning in southwest Weld County, Colorado (a heavily Republican county). I got there at 7:12 and waited 40 minutes to vote. The line was longer when I left than when I went in.”

From Arizona: “Orangewood precinct in NW central Phoenix volunteers told me that *already* more have voted by 10:30 am that voted in either the primary or the last general election.”

John Torbett writes from Santa Monica: “I just voted at my polling place in the Peoples’ Republic of Santa Monica and it took me about 45 minutes to get through the line. In 2004 and 2008, I only had to wait about 5 minutes. The 50 something, gray haired hippie in front of me in line asked how to ‘write in’ a candidate. I don’t know what it means since Obama is supposed to win California by 15% and in my precinct Roseanne Barr will probably get more votes than Romney, but the turnout was heavier than I have ever seen it here.”

WHO WON THE THIRD PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE? It depends on how you score it, Bryan Preston writes:

Score this debate a win on energy for Obama, but a win on the facts and the long game for Romney. Moderator Bob Schieffer was probably the best of the three presidential moderators. Both candidates got roughly the same amount of talk time, neither got the patented false Candy Crowley fact check.

Mitt Romney accomplished what he set out to do tonight. He went toe-to-toe with the sitting, snarking president three times and acquitted himself well enough to have the majority of Americans see him as the next President of the United States.

Definitive Voice of Conventional Wisdom™ David Gergen concurs.

Michael Graham adds, “Turning this debate into an opportunity to stop Mitt’s momentum was always going to be tricky. Clearly Axelrod and Co. never figured out the trick.”

Further thoughts and links from Allahpundit at Hot Air.

RELATED: There’s that laser-like focus: Obama ‘death stare’ is the new Biden smirk.

Al Gore, call your office.

MORE: “Romney was thinking about America, and Obama was thinking about losing the election.”

WHO LOST THE DEBATE? “America’s media.”

UPDATE: Video: Crowley Admits Romney Was Right on Libya.

Related: Krauthammer: Candy Crowley Was Essentially Wrong and Contaminated the Argument.

Also: Video: Candy Crowley Jumps from the Bench to Tackle Mitt as he Races for a Touchdown.

How bad is it? MSNBC Undecided Voter Panel Leans More Toward Romney After Debate.

The press has been carrying Obama since day one. But this election cycle it’s become a bit more obvious.

CNN’s John King: After Two Debates, Romney Still Has The Plus.

MORE: Michael Walsh: Don’t Worry, Be Happy. “Whatever marginal help President Obama got from Candy Crowley’s wrong-headed intervention re Libya will dissipate in the morning air, as the stenographers in the MSM contemplate the question: If Obama knew it was terrorism on Day Two, then why did his administration continue to blame the video for days afterward?”

Victor Davis Hanson: “Obama did not forfeit the debate as last time, and took his cue from Joe Biden in interrupting and muttering while Romney spoke, so his energy made it an entertaining night. Nevertheless, the same theme as in Denver emerged — Romney more often providing specific proposals and detailed critiques, and Obama preferring more often emoting and running more on hypotheticals, as if he were not an incumbent with a depressing record that he is obligated to defend. A key moment was Libya, and that is bad for the Obama cause, even if Romney let Obama slightly off the hook. Obama frowned and got defensive and then blew it by disingenuous explanations — claiming that almost immediately after the attack, he had labeled it an act of terrorism, omitting that on numerous occasions in the next two weeks he most certainly did not say that clearly at all, and declared either that it was the fault of a video or that he did not have enough information.”

David Harsanyi: Once again, Obama’s record wins it for Romney.

THOSE WHO WERE YAMMERING AT BREITBART ABOUT THE SHERROD VIDEO ARE NOTABLY SILENT NOW: “Complete” video of Romney missing 1-2 minutes of remarks on the 47%. “The last 48 hours of media commentary has evinced an interesting, and entirely unsurprising, double standard, or perhaps triple standard. When undercover videos of ACORN and NPR by James O’Keefe or of Planned Parenthood by Lila Rose get published, the media immediately insinuates that they contain deceptive editing and demand that the full videos get released — even though media organizations like the broadcast networks rarely if ever operate by that same standard. Mother Jones ripped O’Keefe at the time for not providing all of the video from his undercover exposé of NPR . . . . Actually, O’Keefe eventually released all of the video of the ACORN and NPR stings, which didn’t change their stories at all. But the video of Mitt Romney at a May fundraiser from David Corn and Mother Jones brings us a new innovation — the triple standard. William Jacobson, Moe Lane, and The Blaze discovered that, contrary to claims made by Corn and MJ, the video wasn’t complete at all — and had a significant gap at a critical time in Romney’s remarks.”

Do not trust content from Mother Jones.

NICK DENTON, INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY: “Gawker is organized like an international money-laundering operation. Much of its international revenues are directed through Hungary, where Denton’s mother hails from, and where some of the firm’s techies are located. But that is only part of it. Recently, Salmon reports, the various Gawker operations—Gawker Media LLC, Gawker Entertainment LLC, Gawker Technology LLC, Gawker Sales LLC—have been restructured to bring them under control of a shell company based in the Cayman Islands, Gawker Media Group Inc.” Nobody tell Liz Warren.

Or Joe Biden — because then you’d have to explain what a shell company is, and that the Cayman Islands aren’t part of Oiho.

Meanwhile, Kevin Williamson comments:

So we have evil offshoring — exploting those poor marginalized Hungarian nerds — baroque tax-minimizing schemes, assets that will not be repatriated because of U.S. taxes, and that favorite sin of the Left: hypocrisy. In my mind, hypocrisy is a lesser sin than stupidity, and it is sort of stupid to write up a breathless account about Romney’s doing the precise same thing your company does. Incidentally, there is nothing in the Gawker report or the accompanying documents suggesting that Romney or Bain did anything improper. And neither did Gawker, for that matter: U.S. tax practices create very powerful incentives to pursue avoidance strategies. Gawker’s owners apparently know that, even if its writers lack the guts or the intellectual capability to acknowledge as much.

We eagerly await the next Gawker editorial on the need for corporate-tax reform.

Heh. Hoist, petard, etc.

UPDATE: The Gawker story kind of undermines this leak of Mitt Romney tax information, which, as a reader emails, “has David Axelrod’s fingerprints all over it.”

You know, one reason to abolish the income tax is that it puts private information into the hands of politicians and government officials who are able to abuse it for political reasons.

CHANGE: Corn and soybeans hit record highs, stir food crisis fear. “Corn prices crossed into uncharted territory above $8 per bushel — about three-and-a-half times the average price 10 years ago of $2.28. Soybeans punched past $17 for the first time — also three-and-a-half times the 2002 average. Analysts said that while forecasts for continued dry weather are expected to sustain the rally, corn prices could be vulnerable to any move by the government to lower the amount of corn-based ethanol blenders are required to mix with gasoline. Even as chatter about a possible revision of the ethanol mandate has escalated, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the former governor of top farm state Iowa, has ruled out such a move.”

Related: World Braced for New Food Crisis.

The drought in the US, which supplies nearly half the world’s exports of corn and much of its soyabeans and wheat, will reverberate well beyond its borders, affecting consumers from Egypt to China.

“I’ve been in the business more than 30 years and this is by far and away the most serious weather issue and supply and demand problem that I have seen by a mile,” said a senior executive at a trading house. “It’s not even comparable to 2007-08.”

David Nelson, global strategist at Rabobank, added: “Today the [US crop] disaster is real, whereas to some degree the big run-up in prices in 2008 was speculatively driven.”

Oh, goody.

ROGER KIMBALL ON battling the amoeba.

It’s really just another step along the road to the coming middle-class anarchy.

When the backbone of a country starts thinking that laws and rules are not worth following, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to anarchy.

TV has given us the illusion that anarchy is people rioting in the streets, smashing car windows and looting every store in sight. But there’s also the polite, quiet, far deadlier anarchy of the core citizenry—the upright citizenry—throwing in the towel and deciding it’s just not worth it anymore. If a big enough proportion of the populace—not even a majority, just a largish chunk—decides that it’s just not worth following the rules anymore, then that society’s days are numbered: Not even a police-state with an armed Marine at every corner with Shoot-to-Kill orders can stop such middle-class anarchy.

Read the whole thing. This is what happens when the ruling class forfeits trust. It isn’t pretty. People at the top — in this country at least — used to worry about maintaining trust. Now they seem to take it for granted, or fail to appreciate the cost of losing it. The Gods Of The Copybook Headings are always there, though.

Meanwhile, Walter Russell Mead has some related thoughts.

UPDATE: Reader David Lange writes:

For the majority of Americans, who I assume are playing by the rules, they see more and more evidence that the entire system of government regulations, tax code, financial regulations, and enforcement, exist to benefit the well connected. The tipping point will come when this perception is shared by the majority.

And it will happen slowly, and then all at once.

LAUGHING ALL THE WAY TO THE WHITE HOUSE: Steve Green writes:

Everything we’ve seen this week is of a piece with Bill Clinton calling Obama “an amateur.” But even if he never said “amateur” out loud like Edward Klein claims in his new book, you knowClinton thought it. And since Clinton is almost pathologically incapable of not sharing his every thought, I’m certainly inclined to think the story is true.

And now Drudge is red-headlining — redlining? — a new poll showing Mitt Romney with a seven-point lead, 50%-43%. Gallup? Rasmussen? Drudge isn’t saying yet, but Rasmussen usually releases his daily numbers at around 11AM Eastern, so it wouldn’t surprise me if somebody there leaked Drudge a preview. [UPDATE: Yes, it was Rasmussen.]

Which leads us to the stupidest thing I read all week — Mark Halperin’s report about how “confident” the Obama campaign is about their chances this fall. Has he not seen David Axelrod doing the Flop Sweat Tango on national television? Has he not noticed that the DNC chair is witlessly out of touch with voters? Is he unaware of the unprecedented nastiness of the president’s campaign? Obama 2012 makes Bush 2004 look like Reagan 1984. “Mourning in America” would be a step toward the positive for this crew.

Anyway, Halperin is just another cog in the progressive media machine that will stop at nothing to reelect the President. Our job is a much simpler one: Point and laugh at all of it. The contortions, the spins, the lies — they’re all so pathetically and rib-achingly funny. In three-plus decades of watching politics, I’ve never witnessed anything so desperately, hysterically funny.

Obama could still well drag his SCOAMF campaign over the finish line in November, and he could then govern in a scorched earth style in the following years, with plenty of punitive executive orders and the like. But no matter what happens in November, his last four years of governing, his leaden oratory, and his scorched earth Alinskyesque tactics have all combined to leave his brand permanently damaged beyond repair. The messianic praise that he inspired amongst his acolytes at the start of his campaign now looks like snake oil and tulip mania of the worst order.

TENNESSEE LEGISLATURE joins in the Battle Of Vanderbilt. I predict that universities, both public and private, will face more of this sort of outside scrutiny in the future.

DECLARING PREEMPTIVE WAR ON THE JUDICIARY: Impeach the Supreme Court Justices If They Overturn Health-Care Law. These people really are losing it. And I thought they were against preemptive war . . . .

Related: The Week Obama Jumped The Shark.

UPDATE: Is striking down the individual mandate like stopping Congress from banning child labor? “It seems to me that younger, healthier individuals are being swept in to accumulate an immense fund that will be used to cover the expenses of older, sicker folks. It’s the exploitation of the young, ironically. But Koppelman doesn’t want you think precisely about what the legislation does, and who’s really being required to pay for what. He’d like to roll you up into a big ball of emotion where you visualize poor little children.” That’s what you do when you don’t have an actual argument. It’s for the children!

More on Koppelman’s emotional appeal here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Ken Lightcap writes: “I remember growing up in the fifties and early sixties and seeing lots of ‘Impeach Earl Warren’ billboards throughout rural America. If my memory serves me there were more of them south of the Mason-Dixon Line but I know they were in rural Pennsylvania too. That was pretty effective, wasn’t it?”

Even the segregationists waited until after the Court had ruled, though.

MORE: Judicial Review, Chicago Style.

MORE STILL: A reminder from reader Kevin Patrick: “Note those ‘Impeach Earl Warren’ billboard protests were from Democrats then and Democrats again today. Both times Republicans have been on the correct side of history.” Ouch.

And another reader emails: “Rather hilariously, David Dow, the author of the Newsweek piece calling for the impeachment of the Supreme Court if they overturn the health care law, is the author of America’s Prophets: How Judicial Activism Makes America Great.” Only the right sort of judicial activism. Impeach the rest!

Only Dow’s impeachment piece is even more embarrassing than that. Reader Eric Fettmann writes to point out:

He’s not even writing about the right justice.

Samuel Chase is the justice who was impeached in 1805. Salmon Chase was the chief justice appointed by Abraham Lincoln in 1864.

Heh; I should have noticed that, but was so floored by the basic concept that I didn’t. So it’s a fail at all levels. Really, for a party/movement that’s allegedly led by a super-smart professor of constitutional law, I’m not seeing any particular evidence of brilliance here . . . .

And Prof. Stephen Clark writes: “Looks like the Democrat’s war against the Court is going about as well as the Sandra Fluke stunt.” At least people aren’t talking about gas prices.

STILL MORE: Reader DRJ writes: “Did Dow’s article initially say Salmon Chase instead of Samuel Chase? Because it says Samuel now and there isn’t a correction noted.”

Yes, it did. Here’s a screenshot, for any doubters.

The error was also noticed here.

FINALLY: DRJ emails: “The Correction is on page 2 at the end of the article. Maybe I read the article just as the correction was being made.” Maybe.

GIVE THE GUY A BREAK: David Corn Has Showdown in Barnes & Noble.

He was spotted in the Barnes & Noble at Union Station throwing a fit because his new book — his fifth — fitting[ly] called Showdown: The Inside Story of How Obama Fought Back Against Boehner, Cantor, and the Tea Party out today didn’t have its own display. He was overheard yelling at the manager that “every paper in America” was going to be talking about his book today and yet nobody could find it there.

The manager explained that corporate tells him what books get displays and that the order did not call for that. Corn maintained that the bookstore wasn’t well run and stormed out in a huff.

I agree that Corn is generally an amiable guy, but you have to remember that being an author with a book just out is sort of like giving birth. And nobody would blame a pregnant woman for screaming if the delivery were being botched. But Corn denies screaming, and his book is now in the window. Anyway, as a consolation prize, I’ve linked it above.

THUGGISHNESS: A Broad-Based IRS Assault On The Tea Party? “In the last 24 hours, my colleagues at the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) have been in contact with literally dozens of tea-party organizations that have received intrusive information demands from the IRS, demands that seriously implicate their First Amendment rights.”

TEN YEARS AGO ON INSTAPUNDIT: Why are Western human-rights groups so silent on Zimbabwe?

I don’t know how long I’ll keep this series going, but I’m encouraged by this email from a journalist (you’d recognize his name) who asks anonymity: “Very much enjoying these glances back. Strangely, though post-9/11, it was a much more innocent time. Pre-Iraq, and everything that went with that. Pre-Obama, too, though that’s not as relevant to the quaintness as the running references to Cornel West, another black American race-baiting fraud out of Harvard, make clear. What a wonder to see people like Andrew Sullivan, Josh Marshall and David Brooks taken seriously. Also fun to see references to ‘reader Eugene Volokh’ and ‘reader Stephen Green.'” Yes, there’s been a lot of water under that bridge.

UPDATE: Reader Linda White writes: “Professor, a couple of years ago, I read P J O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores, printed 20 or so years previous. It was just as fresh and relevant when I read it as when P J wrote it. Your Ten Years Ago series is just like that.” Well, thanks. All P.J. O’Rourke comparisons are appreciated.

WHEN IS $16 TRILLION NOT ENOUGH: “I’ve participated in many such discussions over the years, and I’m always struck by the core assumptions of many on the Christian Left: First, that America has not done enough — either charitably or through government programs — to improve the plight of the poor; second, that the right kind of governmental investment will make substantial differences in American poverty; and third, that America’s poor are largely victims of the wrong kind of government policies and individual greed. For these individuals, the $16 trillion we’ve spent on means-tested welfare since the War on Poverty began represents a grossly inadequate expenditure, and the answer (it’s the same answer with public education, by the way) is more, more, more — more money, more programs, and more taxation. Yet after $16 trillion, we have a different kind of more, more, more — more illegitimacy, more citizens in poverty, and more inequality, with growing stickiness at the bottom.”

CHANGE: Evangelicals’ Collapsing Sexual Mores. This seems less horrible, and less novel, to me than it does to David French.

THE EMPLOYMENT HORROR OF NEW YORK’S LITERARY CUBS:

Rebecca Chapman, who has a master of arts in English and comparative literature from Columbia University, hit bottom professionally last summer when she could not even get a job that did not pay. Vying for an internship at a boutique literary agency in Manhattan, Ms. Chapman, 25, had gone on three separate interviews with three people on three different days. “They couldn’t even send me an e-mail telling me I didn’t get it,” she said. . . .

Ms. Chapman added: “My whole life, I had been doing everything everybody told me. I went to the right school. I got really good grades. I got all the internships. Then, I couldn’t do anything.”

On Facebook, Kate Coe cruelly comments: “Bad news, honey. You didn’t do anything before.” Cruel, but the bottom line is if you want to be a writer, write. Despite what they tell you at Columbia, nothing else matters.

Despite her upbeat take on the proceedings, Ms. Chapman admitted she wasn’t feeling chipper. It was her birthday. A happy occasion? For most, maybe — but not, she explained, when you are turning 25, having graduated summa from Cornell, with a master’s from Columbia, only to find yourself unemployed and back living at home with your parents.

You can write in your parents’ basement. And if you want to make it as a writer, you’d better. And if you want to make it as a literary agent, try making some sales for your unrepresented writer-friends. You can do that from your parents’ basement too.

UPDATE: Phil Bowermaster asks, what if you want to make it as an editor? Start your own webzine, I guess. But “editor” is an iffy career path at this point, especially if you mean “literary editor.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Virginia Postrel thinks I’m unfairly influened by the NYT’s spin: “It’s actually about young, aspiring literary intellectuals DOING THEIR OWN THING, using the web to write and publish the kind of work they want to do. They are taking the Army of Davids approach. The Times reporter decided to lead with the complaint, not with the actual subject of the article, which is the entrepreneurial workaround. Bitching about the economy is how you get stuff in the NYT. It’s not, however, what’s going on in the story.”

Good point, and I stand corrected.

#OCCUPYHOLLYWOOD: DAVID POST: How About Occupy Hollywood? “One of the obvious dangers of the Internet Age is that we’ll be so distracted by everything going on around us — lots of it interesting, complicated, and even important (not to mention all the stuff that’s idiotic and unimportant and fundamentally uninteresting) — that we will fail to recognize the truly important stuff when it comes along. The IP bills that Congress now has before it — the Senate version of which is known as PROTECT-IP, the House version as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), sometimes known as the “E-Parasite” bill — are deep and profound threats to the Net and to our freedom on the Net. If anyone has good ideas about how to fight back other than to stand on the street-corner, as I am doing now, and shouting to the rooftops, I’d be interested to hear them.”

SECRET DEATH MEMO: Reader Mike Fitzmorris emails, “What would John Yoo have said?”

The Obama administration’s secret legal memorandum that opened the door to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical Muslim cleric hiding in Yemen, found that it would be lawful only if it were not feasible to take him alive, according to people who have read the document. . . .

It was principally drafted by David Barron and Martin Lederman, who were both lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel at the time, and was signed by Mr. Barron. The office may have given oral approval for an attack on Mr. Awlaki before completing its detailed memorandum. Several news reports before June 2010 quoted anonymous counterterrorism officials as saying that Mr. Awlaki had been placed on a kill-or-capture list around the time of the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25, 2009. . . . The document’s authors argued that “imminent” risks could include those by an enemy leader who is in the business of attacking the United States whenever possible, even if he is not in the midst of launching an attack at the precise moment he is located.

This is all sounding kinda familiar, somehow. . . .

Related: “Gosh, who knew that John Yoo had gone back to work for the Obama Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, writing memos under the nom de plumes ‘David Barron’ and ‘Martin Lederman.'” It’s “Marty” to those of us who knew him in law school. . . .

Plus, John Yoo himself weighs in: “We should be thankful that Obama officials have quietly put aside the arguments they made during the Bush years that any terrorist outside the Afghani battlefield was a criminal suspect who deserved his day in federal court. By my lights, I would rather the Obama folks be hypocrites in favor of protecting the national security than principled fools (which they are free to be in the faculty lounges both before and after their time in government).”

Ouch.

HMM: Antisocial personality traits predict utilitarian responses to moral dilemmas. “A study conducted by Daniel Bartels, Columbia Business School, Marketing, and David Pizarro, Cornell University, Psychology found that people who endorse actions consistent with an ethic of utilitarianism—the view that what is the morally right thing to do is whatever produces the best overall consequences—tend to possess psychopathic and Machiavellian personality traits.”

REPORT: Utah Tea Party Targets Orrin Hatch.

Related: Activists March to NRSC To Demand Hatch Ouster.

Also: Hatch Showdown: Tea Party Activists Knock On GOP’s Door — Literally.

Plus, they went around to various Senate offices. Utah Tea Party activists David Kirkham emails: “Your Senator Corker gave everyone goodies and munchies.” Bob’s a friendly sort.

Joe Manchin, on the other hand, banned photos in his office. But here’s one that made it out before the ban:

Plus, a good review on Sen. Cornyn: “He talked to ALL of us and didn’t only talk to 2 of us and leave us all outside. Good on him.” Here’s a pic:

And here’s a pic from Sen. Grassley’s office:

CULLY STIMSON ON THE LEGALITY OF THE OBL RAID: At NRO. And First Thing’s David Mills on Europe’s “concerned, worried, and doubting” reaction.

MORE ON THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA’S FACULTY HATE-SPEECH SCANDAL AND THE TOLERANT LEFT, from Michael Walsh. “It’s practically Pavlovian; they are so invested in the myth of their own righteousness that their ‘tolerance’ fetish goes right out the window whenever they suffer the slightest affront to their delusional notion of how the world works. . . . This is why pushing back against them is so important: Like President Obama, they’re not used to real opposition. They’re unused to being questioned. They consider any challenge to their bogus ‘moral authority’ (based on what, one might ask?) to be tantamount to treason. . . . By the way, I love ‘Conservatives Coming Out Week’ As David Kahane argues in Rules for Radical Conservatives, turn their own tactics against them. Force the tolerance issue. Hit them with Alinsky’s Rule No. 4: ‘Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules.’ Above all, celebrate diversity!”

UPDATE: A reader sends this: “Nothing is more curious than the almost savage hostility that Humour excites in those who lack it.”

APPARENTLY, Prosser won the election. More here. Wow. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Here’s the latest from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

David Prosser gained 7,582 votes in Waukesha County, after a major counting error of Brookfield results was detected, County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus announced in a stunning development this afternoon.

Nickolaus says the reason for the big change is that data transmitted from the City of Brookfield was imported but that she failed to save those results to the database. Brookfield cast 14,315 votes on April 5 — 10,859 of those votes went to Prosser and 3,456 went to JoAnne Kloppenburg.

So is this kosher? There’s no suggestion of fraud in the story. Reader Stu Wagner writes: “My suspicious, cynical side says that the Republicans delayed the full count to flush out any Democrat tricks. God bless ‘em, I hope they’re just that smart.” I’d be very surprised if they were that smart. . . .

WHY IS IT SO EASY for Lila Rose and James O’Keefe? “Why has this been so easy? Because until now Planned Parenthood, ACORN, and NPR have not experienced real media accountability or real journalistic scrutiny — at least not to the extent that conservative politicians and organizations do. The mainstream media (and NPR is obviously part of the MSM) is sympathetic to their goals and purposes, and reporter calls tend to come from friendly voices seeking talking points rather than skeptical reporters demanding answers. In the MSM’s eyes, those organizations were the good guys, part of the home team. . . . Thus, they enjoy the casual confidence and sometimes-startling honesty that comes when one feels they’re ‘among friends.’ They fall for the crudest of tricks and don’t bat an eye at the incongruity of slamming the alleged intolerance of Christian conservatives while courting funding from self-described members of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

WILL WILKINSON OFFERS A SCORNFUL REVIEW of David Brooks’ new book. “Brooks supplies neither drama, high emotion, nor the mindbending metaphysics of aging without time. He serves up instead a shapeless story of ruling-class, Davos-goers so tedious, so lacking in passion and intensity, one begins to hope Harry and Erica will be pursued by proletarian lynch-mobs, revealed as rubber fetishists, or at least stranded at sea one ominous afternoon on a friend’s yacht, just so one may be sure these cardboard cutouts have functioning cardboard hearts. . . . The story of Harold and Erica does not really illustrate a new, coherent, science-based theory of human nature. It is a bowl hammered from Brooks’ philosophic predilections into which a jumbled stew of scientific anecdotes is poured. And it is not good stew.”

HEH: Cornstalked: As the 14 Wisconsin Democrats run, meet the numerous Illinois Tea Party activists giving chase. “To say that 14 Wisconsin Democrats are ‘on the lam’ in Illinois is an understatement. Relentlessly hounded by Illinois Tea Party members, they are, truly, on the run.” Plus this: “By capturing the senators on film not answering question — by putting them ‘on the record’ as it were — and then posting it for the world to see, Hale and the other Illinois Tea Partiers are making it difficult for these Wisconsinites to control their message. . . . Alger was gently chastised by another Tea Party coordinator for forgetting one important item: her camera.” Don’t leave home without it.

And the key bit: “Unrelenting public mockery, though, that’s tough to hide from.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

UPDATE: Two questions that aren’t being asked about Wisconsin.

ANOTHER UPDATE: “They should be thrown out of office as soon as they get back.”

MORE: From an Undisclosed Motel 6 in Illinois.

VIOLENCE: THE TEA PARTY GETS BLAMED, BUT IT’S USUALLY THE UNIONS WHO ACTUALLY DO IT: “Many of the letters from Wisconsin today have to do with violence: threats against Governor Walker and members of his administration, the increases in their security details, their worries about their spouses and children, and so on. I have heard from people closely connected to the threatened individuals. Their letters are hard to take. The last few days have made quite clear that, if you cross the public-employee unions, you run risks: and not merely political risks (which are nothing). . . . I have a feeling that, if conservatives had staged a lunatic and thuggish rally like the one the public employees just staged in Wisconsin, it would be huge news all across the country: cover of Time, cover of Newsweek. (Do those magazines still exist?) Sarah Palin would be called on to explain herself. David Gregory and other Sunday hosts would be warning of a sickness in the American soul — would be warning of the brownshirting of America. There is a sickness, all right.”

DON SURBER: David Corn Goes Ezra Klein. And Corn is old enough to know better . . . . Surber writes: “Here is what is going on: For years liberals have used the courts to dodge the legislative process because liberals are outnumbered. . . . Now ordinary citizens are turning to the Constitution and this has liberals squawking. In their minds the Constitution belongs to them and not we the people.” Ouch.

UPDATE: Are Liberals Coming Out of the Closet on the Constitution?

PROPHETIC: Go back and read what Steven Den Beste posted on election day 2008.

UPDATE: Also, this from David Kahane.

PAUL RYAN vs. David Brooks.

JONAH GOLDBERG: “Shirley Sherrod, who didn’t know who Andrew Breitbart was 72 hours ago, now knows him well enough to say that he wants to put all blacks back into slavery. If I were David Axelrod, I’d be calling this woman and beg her to stop talking. And, yes, she does owe Andrew an apology.”

UPDATE: Reader Bill Ernoehazy writes: “Glenn: At this point I think it’s worth asking: Did someone on Vilsack’s staff push for a panicky ejection because Sherrod had a _reputation_ for race-baiting? In less than three days she’s castigated the President, and now Breitbart, on nakedly racial grounds. What did Vilsack’s staff know, and when will WE know it?”

ANOTHER UPDATE: More thoughts from Dave Price. “And remember — the Obama admin now owns Shirley Sherrod. There’s no way for them to look good on this anymore. If they fired her, then apologized and offered her a promotion on a flimsy ‘context’ argument, then found out she was someone whose wildly inflammatory accusations make Reverend Jeremiah Wright look like the soul of racial unity and reasonable dialogue… the already oil-drenched competence myth is now taking a slash to the jugular.”

MCCHRYSTAL FIRED, Petraeus asked to take over. Will MoveOn and Keith Olbermann reprise their “General BetrayUs” routine?

UPDATE: A reader emails: “What’s it say about the MSM that a Presidential Candidate and a Commanding General were taken down by the National Enquirer and Rolling Stone Magazine? They’re not exactly bastions of journalistic integrity-or did things suddenly invert over the last 10 years?” Well, they still do actual reporting.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Obama Votes “Present” — And That’s A Good Thing.

MORE: Michael Yon emails:

The United States has again called upon General David Petraeus during crisis. There have been other times, the most remarkable being in January 2007 when we were on the cusp of losing the war in Iraq. The chances against success were increasingly remote. I was there through the entire surge, and more, and saw the remarkable transformation under command of General Petraeus and due to the incredible efforts of our armed forces and civilian counterparts. No book that I have read, including the one that I wrote, has fully conveyed the magnitude of those days. You simply had to be there.

Here we are again. This time on the cusp of losing the war in Afghanistan. The situation is worse than ever before. Again, the United States has asked General David Petraeus to step into a situation that seems hopeless to many people. It is not hopeless, just extremely bad. All is not lost, just nearly lost. Our people can turn this war around.

I’m pulling for them, God knows.

Plus this comment: “Brilliant choice by the President. He removes his hand-picked choice for someone he had no confidence in just 2 years ago.” Yes, underemphasized in all of this is that McChrystal was Obama’s hand-picked choice, for whom the previously serving general, David McKiernan, was unceremoniously removed. That switch was one of Obama’s first major decisions as commander-in-chief.

Meanwhile, look whose bacon Petraeus is being called in to save.

STILL MORE: Victor Davis Hanson:

It is one of ironies of our present warped climate that Petraeus will face far less criticism from the media and politicians than during 2007–8 (there will be no more “General Betray Us” ads or “suspension of disbelief” ridicule), because his success this time will reflect well on Obama rather than George Bush. It is a further irony that Obama is surging with Petraeus despite not long ago declaring that such a strategy and such a commander were failures in Iraq. And it is an even further irony that he is now rightly calling for “common purpose” when — again not long ago, at a critical juncture in Iraq — Obama himself, for partisan purposes on the campaign trail, had no interest in the common purpose of military success in Iraq.

Indeed.

MORE STILL: What MoveOn was saying.

Plus, from Michael Barone: President Obama took command. And this: “Incidentally, the appointment of Petraeus to replace McChrystal was recommended yesterday by the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol. Does the president read the Weekly Standard’s The Blog?” Better that than some other blogs he’s taken direction from . . . .

FINALLY: MoveOn Scrubs “General Betray Us” Page From Website. Have you noticed how these people are always airbrushing? It’s kind of an admission that their stuff won’t sell if they tell the truth. . . .

IS CHICAGO CHINA? Roger L. Simon writes:

Now Chicago is not as brutal as China, obviously, but in some ways it’s worse. Someone named Daley has been the city’s mayor since somewhere in the Early Paleolithic Age. Chairman Mao didn’t last as long. Being a Daley in Chicago is equivalent to being a Medici in Florence – with less danger of a violent death. The patronage system seems to extend from somewhere a few miles south of Canada to the northern reaches of Kentucky. Everyone here appears to accept this as part of the game.

Last weekend the Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about the three hundred people who rule China and are connected by their own special super private line of “red phones.” That could be Chicago. In fact, they should adopt it here. Obama and Rahm Emanuel could be linked in with David Axelrod and Bill Ayers. Maybe it should be red Blackberrys.

Now I’m being sarcastic here, but I think this is indicative of the serious problem we’re facing now. Crony capitalism can work to a point. Chicago still looks better than LA at the moment. But the strains are starting to show. Crony capitalism is a dependency system. It has obvious economic weaknesses that stem from its obsessive need for control. And now it’s all about to crack with unions, pensions, too many people working for the city and state, etc., etc.

Sounds like Thomas Friedman’s kind of place.

HUGH “TERMINATOR” HEWITT: Keith Olbermann can dish it out but he can’t take it. “The people who were briefed would not speak on the record because they feared retaliation by the network and because they were not authorized to speak about the matter. Some of the people said the decision suggests that criticism of MSNBC is not allowed on MSNBC, potentially a troubling development.” Well, it would be more troubling if people actually watched MSNBC.

UPDATE: Heh: “In any event, MSNBC has now fired the guy they hired to replace the guy they suspended (David Shuster) and all for the sake of a guy who isn’t even the highest-rated host of his own television program.”

DAVID BOAZ: There’s no such thing as a golden age of lost liberty.

For many libertarians, “the road to serfdom” is not just the title of a great book but also the window through which they see the world. We’re losing our freedom, year after year, they think. They (we) quote Thomas Jefferson: “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” We read books with titles like Freedom in Chains, Lost Rights, The Rise of Federal Control over the Lives of Ordinary Americans, and yes, The Road to Serfdom. . . . We should focus on what is actually important—the exercise of arbitrary power over others.

Read the whole thing. I’ve had this argument, too. And I think this sort of despairing, reverse-Whig view of history also discourages people from fighting for liberty. But we’ve recovered before, and we’ll recover again — if we want to.

TEA PARTY TRAINING: A REPORT FROM UTAH. David Kirkham writes:

Tonight we held practice delegate training for Utah County so new people would know what to expect when they went to their neighborhood caucus and how to get elected as a delegate for the Republican Convention. The room was packed with people wanting to learn how to become a delegate. We have lists of everyone who attended their caucus meeting last year so people can get them to come out and vote for fiscal minded candidates.

Most have never participated in politics. Voting Senator Bennett out sentiment was extremely high. We have held these practice training sessions all over the state in the individual counties. We are getting organized.

UPDATE: Reader John MacDonald writes: “Tea Parties have to out -organize the community organizers well in advance of November elections or they lose the ground game on Election day to SEIU, ACORN.They have to win above the fraud factor.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Meanwhile, from Ohio, Justin Binik Thomas sends:

> New Tea Party, nearly 150 people attend.

> Members of the Pierce Township(Ohio) Tea Party came together for
> their first meeting on March 11.

> Brian Wills, guest speaker of the Cincinnati Tea Party and Scott
> Ross with End Ohio’s Estate Tax.

> Members were challenged to take petition packets and collect 30
> signatures each in support of End Ohio’s Estate Tax,
> a ballot initiative to end the death tax.

> Pierce Township Tea Party is the newest community group in the
> Cincinnati Tea Party

This is democracy in action.

JONAH GOLDBERG ON David Brooks and the Tea Parties. “It was Obama who wanted a ‘new declaration of independence.’ The Tea Partiers like the old one just as it is, thank you very much. And that spells all the difference in the world.”

BOSTON GLOBE: Coakley has conceded in a call to Scott Brown, according to a Brown aide. AP had just projected Brown as a winner.

So has Massachusetts kicked off another American revolution?

UPDATE: David Boaz: The Brown Revolution. “Around the world over the past decade, longstanding and stultifying power elites have been toppled by what came to be known as the ‘color revolutions’ — notably the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and hopefully the Green Revolution in Iran. Now the political elites in Boston and Washington have been rocked by the Brown Revolution.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader emails: “Matthews is on now. Has the ‘tingle up the leg’ become a trickle down the leg?” [LATER: Matthews comments.]

Roll Call: Brown Wins Huge Upset in Massachusetts.

Last year, when I was at CPAC for PJTV, a leading pundit told me (politely) that he thought my interest in the Tea Party movement was silly. I demurred. All I can say is I told you so.

MORE: The Scott Heard ‘Round The World.

Plus, A question for Keith Olbermann. “How do those teabags taste?”

Power Line: Thank you, President Bush. “As I understand the Democratic narrative of today’s election, as explained by Robert Gibbs and others, Scott Brown’s victory is the result of voter anger. That anger, in turn, is the understandable result of President Bush’s policies. Thus, George W. Bush is responsible for the election of Scott Brown. President Obama is just a bystander.”

And reader J.C. Rhoades writes: “So, should the good people of Massachusetts be considered the real Browncoats?” I aim to misbehave.

Reader Clifford Grout comments: “I think they should name Scott Brown’s truck ‘Mary Jo’s Revenge’. Just sayin’.”

STILL MORE: Jim Webb: Suspend Further Votes On Health Care Until Brown Is Seated.

Reader Phil Manhard writes: “I love the smell of tar and feathers in the evening. It smells like…..
Victory!” It’s only metaphorical tar and feathers.

Michael Graham: Who’s next?

For at least five minutes, we stood looking at each other in disbelief. Some people kept looking at the TV looking for confirmation from AP. Could it be true?

Finally it sank in. The cheering began to subside, and then came the cry: “Who’s next?”

Another roar, and then came the names: Kerry, Frank, and loudest of all Gov. Deval Patrick.

These people have had their first taste of political success in a long time. They feel hope again, for the first time in years. And they’re spoilin’ for another brawl in the Bay State.

Good.

Plus, Rush Limbaugh reacts.

Politico: Scott Brown pulls off historic upset.

Mark Steyn:

Harry Reid’s reluctance to seat Senator Brown (R- Mass) – boy, I enjoyed typing that – until “the proper paperwork has been received” seems awfully finicky for a man who famously declared he wanted to bring “twelve million undocumented Americans out of the shadows”.

Why not start by bringing the undocumented Senator out of the shadows? Given the unelected Dems sitting as replacements for Obama and his cabinet appointees, it would demonstrate a particular contempt for the people’s voice to hold up the one guy who fought and won an election to get in there.

Indeed.

WILL COLLIER has a bone to pick with David Brooks. “What Brooks, with his touching faith in ‘pragmatic federal leaders with professional expertise’ doesn’t want to talk about, of course, is just how badly the Ivy League class has failed over the past couple of decades. All those rows of degrees from Harvard didn’t keep a pack of Brooksian elites–mostly members of the Democratic Party–from running Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac straight into the toilet, and taking the private economy with them. Hiring out of the Ivies also didn’t save Lehman Brothers or AIG from doing remarkably stupid things with other people’s money. And as for ‘professional expertise…’ just what profession does the Obama cabinet posses expertise in, other than hardball politics?” And George W. Bush went to Yale and had a graduate degree from Harvard — though, somehow, that didn’t seem to qualify him for membership in the educated classes.

UPDATE: More on Brooks: “Curiously absent from the Brooks column is any sense of what caused all of this. Primarily, it is caused by the real and perceived failures of the educated class, from Wall Street to Pennsylvania Avenue and Capitol Hill. There has never been much political momentum on the issue of global warming (the Senate pre-emptively rejected the Kyoto treaty on a 95-0 vote) because of economic concerns. Thus, it is not surprising that the public becomes less interested in such action amid a serious recession. If the public has become more pro-life, it may be that the now commonplace technology of sonography has graphically brought the reality of the issue into more and more families, while the supposedly educated class adheres to old dogma. If the public is more concerned about their Second Amendment rights, it may be a reaction to the fact the party in power tends to infringe on them. Indeed, the public reaction on all of these issues may be seen as a reaction against an agenda that lacks a mandate (more on that below).”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Okay, I went and reread that Brooks column. When I posted a link this morning, I didn’t see it as being as objectionable as these responses suggest, and on rereading I still don’t. Yes, there’s the air of Brooksian condescenscion toward the great unwashed, but that’s practically required for the NYT columnist gig, and remember, he’s trying to explain this stuff to the Upper West Side crowd. And I’m not so sure he’s using “educated class” in a positive way. See, e.g., “The tea party movement is a large, fractious confederation of Americans who are defined by what they are against. They are against the concentrated power of the educated class. They believe big government, big business, big media and the affluent professionals are merging to form self-serving oligarchy — with bloated government, unsustainable deficits, high taxes and intrusive regulation.” So cut Brooks at least a little slack, here.

And reader David Marcus writes: “When Brooks refers to the educated class, which your other commentators equated with Ivy League, I think he really is referring to the New Class as set out by Herman Kahn in the late 1970’s.” Yes, the New Class idea originally appeared as a critique of the Soviet nomenklatura apparatchiks by Milovan Djilas, but Kahn noted that it applies elsewhere, too. I believe that John Kenneth Galbraith noted this, too, only with approval.

MORE: Prof. Kenneth Anderson writes:

New Class analysis needs to be reset into an American context – once place that does that is the great social theory journal Telos. And I try to do that in a law review essay on lawyers, therapeutic authoritarianism, and the New Class, in the Columbia Law Review.

Here’s a bit from the conclusion:

The old elites wanted to be the top of the communities in which they had grown up; whether to lead or dominate, to serve communities or exploit them, at least they understood themselves as having a place in them. The new elites, by contrast, want no connection; they understand that power is elsewhere, money is elsewhere, and mobility is everything; if indeed they have to live somewhere, it will be if at all possible in a wholly private, gated community. Yet simultaneously they want to dominate.

The New Class pushes its mobility to absolute limits, launching itself into what it imagines is a global society conducted in the jet stream, made weightless by the complete mobility of capital, but with devastating consequences for those left behind on the ground. For those who cannot fly, there is first, the administration of life by these same elites and their hirelings, the authoritarian, bureaucratic formations which, to be sure, express themselves alternately in soothingly therapeutic psycho-babble or communitarian slogans of the common good or assertions of new and endless rights and, second, economic insecurity in the midst of being urged to greater self-esteem …

In this unforgiving light, the unhappiness of lawyers looks rather less like professionals experiencing the loss of fulfillment that accompanies losing “ownership” of the social ends of the legal profession and rather more like the unhappiness of experts who, having established to their own satisfaction the certainty of ends not open for argument by non-experts, wonder why they are not also loved.

The issue of the New Class and its lawyers is authoritarianism. In an age when the therapeutic has appropriated rights talk, and with it lawyers, turning it and them into agents of New Class authoritarianism and social control, the real question that needs to be answered is why there exists the continued “hegemony within the public culture of an essentially indeterminate and at the same time absolutist discourse of rights.” It predominates because, far from being merely a language of individual liberty or even unbridled individual license (as, for example, the communitarians would have us believe) it is today a language of state authority, a language of therapeutic paternalism; those who actually dream of being “liberals” will not reclaim rights talk any time soon. Its appropriation is at the core of the process by which the state today controls, as Christopher Lasch wrote, “not merely [the individual’s] . . . outer but his inner life as well; not merely the public realm but the darkest corners of private life, formerly inaccessible to political domination.”

Lawyers are deeply complicit in this colonization of the language of rights by the culture of therapy. They participate because it serves the agenda of a class that, unfamiliar with democracy except as an impediment to its social engineering, is incapable of any form of discourse that is not directed from the top to the bottom. Expertise, particularly in the social sciences, is a language of hierarchy and social control, and lawyers today, as a professional formation within the New Class, deploy the language of rights to the end of making the therapeutic coercive in the public sphere.

It is not a glorious profession because it is not a glorious class, and lawyers are right to be unhappy.

Gosh, I feel kinda guilty for enjoying life so much now.

RELATED: Bad sociology.

MORE: Reader Joe Jackson writes: “You’ve probably already posted all of the give and take that you intend to post concerning the David Brooks column. But I can’t resist relating this: Back in the early 90s someone gave me an autobiography by Ben Bradlee. It was a lousy book, poorly written, in fact an embarrassment. But one little anecdote has stayed with me. When he first arrived at the Washington Post, retired Executive Editor Leonard Downie’s nickname, according to Bradlee, was ‘Land Grant Len’. Seems that Downie, unlike most of the other hot-shots at the Post, including Bradlee himself, was not an Ivy Leaguer but rather a graduate of Ohio State, a Land Grant institution. David Brooks fits right into this mind-set.”

MARK STEYN:

On September 11th 2001, the government’s (1970s) security procedures all failed, and the only good news of the day came from self-reliant citizens (on Flight 93) using their own wits and a willingness to act.

On December 25th 2009, the government’s (post-9/11) security procedures all failed, and the only good news came once again from alert individuals.

Somebody should write something on this phenomenon. Maybe even, you know, a book!

DAVID CORN: Obama the Calculator: A Copenhagen Postmortem.

DECLINE OF THE WEST. Cornel West, that is. “This is not the intellectual autobiography West promised a decade ago. In essence it is a fawning celebrity profile — one in which reporter and superstar have somehow fused into a single first-person voice. And in fact that turns out to be quite literally true. In the final pages, West pays tribute to David Ritz, his collaborator, who has undertaken similar projects with Marvin Gaye and Grandmaster Flash, among others.”

CLIMATEGATE:

If these were internal Exxon-Mobil e-mails, the trial lawyers would be racing out the door with only one pants-leg filled and every Green press flack would be demanding this lead the evening news and front every newspaper above the fold. If similar e-mails came from the RNC showing racism or homophobia, the New York Times would not demur in the name of privacy, it would call for the GOP to go into federal receivership.

Since there’s federal grant money involved, might there be False Claims Act suits? That’s not my area, but I’d be interested in hearing from someone who knows.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Please just identify me as a “government attorney” or something like that if you choose to post this.

In response to your question about whether the Climategate scandal could lead to a false claims case, the answer is probably no. A “false claim” generally means a false statement with a negative impact on the public fisc–a padded bill, an understated tax return, etc. Thus, it’s not enough to show that Research Institute X lied and received public money; the Institute’s lies must have caused the receipt of public money. Maybe that can be shown here (e.g., false statements in an accepted grant proposal), but I haven’t seen it yet.

However, if this does turn out to be a good false claims case, the judgment would likely dwarf the amount of grant money involved. Damages are automatically trebled, and defendants are also on the hook for penalties of $5 to $10 thousand for every false claim submitted. So, if Institute X filed semiannual grant applications for ten years and received a total of $5 million in government grants, their false claims liability would be $15.1 to $15.2 million.

If the case is brought by a private whistleblower, he/she would be in line for a qui tam share of up to 30% of the total award under the federal act (it’s 50% under California’s act). Using the hypothetical numbers above, that would mean a little over $4.5 million. Not a bad day’s work.

BTW, thanks for bringing up the False Claims Act! One of my personal pet peeves is that this nifty statute gets far too little attention. It is one of the most powerful fraud-fighting weapons in the government’s arsenal, but it is also one of the least known. Moreover, its power derives largely from its free market nature–it enables private individuals to fight large and politically-connected entities who might be able to quash or defang an official inquiry, and it promises lucrative rewards if they are successful. It creates an army of mercenary Davids, if you will.

Also BTW, there’s lots of info about false claims litigation at the Taxpayers Against Fraud website: http://www.taf.org/

Well, it’s too early to say, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that false information led to grants. And yes, though I’m not an expert on False Claims Act stuff, we wrote about it a bit in The Appearance of Impropriety, and I’m glad to hear that my impression that it’s underused is correct.

BREITBART HAS SOURCES EVERYWHERE: Exclusive: Audio From ACORN Claims Jerry Brown Will Whitewash Investigation. “On October 15th, local ACORN spokesman David Lagstein was the special guest of the East County Democrat Club in El Cajon, CA. Lagstein is ACORN’s chief organizer in the San Diego area. The meeting was held at Coco’s Restaurant, a very public venue. Because of ACORN’s close ties to the Democrat party, Mr. Lagstein clearly felt he was among friends. These two clips suggest the investigation of ACORN announced by California Attorney General Jerry Brown already has a pre-determined outcome.”

More background here and here.

MR. GALT’S CORNER OFFICE IS NOW AVAILABLE: Top employees leave financial firms ahead of pay cuts. “Many executives were driven away by the uncertainty of working for companies closely overseen by Washington, opting instead for firms not under the microscope, including competitors that have already returned the bailout funds to the government, according to executives and supervisors at the companies.”

UPDATE: David Harsanyi: Rise of the Mob Economy.

DAVID CORN: Is Obama Serious About Afghanistan?

DAVID CORN: How 9/11 Conspiracy Poison Did In Van Jones: “As far as I can tell, the only thing the so-called 9/11 Truth movement has accomplished is this: it’s caused the Obama administration to lose its most prominent expert on green jobs. So well done, Truthers. . . . The 9/11 conspiracy–of which I have not written about in years–was always a load of bunk. You don’t have to be an expert on skyscraper engineering or top-secret government communications to know that the two variants of the theory–the Bush White House orchestrated 9/11 so it could subsequently exploit the tragedy or the Bush White House knew the attack was coming and allowed it to occur so it could exploit the tragedy–make no sense.”

HEY, WAIT, I THOUGHT POLITICAL VIOLENCE CAME FROM WHITE REPUBLICAN MALES. Woman accused of threatening bomb-plot informant. “A Texas woman faces trial this month in Austin on charges she threatened to kill a government informant who infiltrated an Austin-based group that planned to bomb the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., last fall. Katyanne Marie Kibby, 25, was indicted in June by a federal grand jury in Austin. She is accused of retaliating against Brandon Darby, the community activist-turned-informant who helped federal prosecutors win convictions against Bradley Neal Crowder, 24, and David Guy McKay, 23. . . . Crowder and McKay built eight of the gasoline firebombs but didn’t use them, a fact law enforcement officials credited to Darby. Members of the Austin protest community heaped scorn on Darby, saying he had betrayed longtime friends and colleagues. ”

Say, wanna bet that if it had been “Tea Party” protesters building the firebombs instead of lefty Austinites this would be getting a lot more press? It’s all about the narrative . . . .

JONATHAN ADLER: “Let’s see now. Deficit projections are once again on the rise as Obama’s approval rating falls. Health care reform is faltering, climate change legislation is stalled, and David Axlerod is under fire for his conflicts of interest. Seems like a good time to change the subject. Contents of the CIA inspector general’s report on harsh interrogation methods have already leaked, so it won’t do the trick. If I were a betting man, I’d expect something else to drop Monday or Tuesday.”

Hmm. Dick Cheney collaborated with extradimensional aliens, gave them nuclear weapons? No, that’s already been done.

DAVID CORN: White House Won’t Say If It’s Satisfied with Iran Intelligence.

FEELING THE HEAT? ‘Nervous’ Letterman Brushes Off Protesters.

More here. And still more — including video of protests — here.

UPDATE: Jim Treacher emails: “Those ‘Fire Letterman’ people should’ve listened to me about accepting his apology.” I think they’re into relentlessness. Maybe they’ve been reading Alinsky? But of course, Alinsky was from the days Before Treacher.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I dunno, this sounds like a PR triumph to me: Letterman Protest Draws More Media Than Activists. I mean, that’s the kind of thing that you usually see with ACORN protests. . . .

MORE: “Once again, we find that the best treatment for bad speech is more speech.”

“A BOOR AND A COWARD:” Victor Davis Hanson on David Letterman.

HOW DO WE KNOW THAT THE OUTRAGEOUS SPENDING IS BECOMING A PROBLEM FOR OBAMA? Well, there’s the poll showing a sizable plurality in favor of cancelling the stimulus spending. And there’s the dead-even generic Congressional ballot.

But the biggest indicator is that Obama’s most reliable media shills have decided that it’s time to . . . yes . . . blame it all on Bush!

It’s true, of course, that the debt up to now is mostly pre-Obama, since he’s only been in office a bit more than four months, making the question “Who’s Responsible For The Debt?” somewhat misleading. But bad as the debt has been in the past — and it went up even during the years of alleged “surpluses” under Clinton — just look at the projected spending under Obama to see why people are upset at where things are going now. Yes, it’s this graphic again.

Heck, it’s even showing up at Obsidian Wings, where we hear: “Obama and the Democratically-controlled Congress are creating debts and deficits larger than any other US government in the history of the Republic, under any measure, with the singular exceptions of the governments that got involved in a bet-the-country war. This chart, which reflects yearly deficits under Presidents (W.) Bush and Obama, cannot be repeated enough.”

No, it can’t, which is why I keep repeating it, and why other people are trying to change the subject and blame Bush. Hey, it worked before! Meanwhile, I invite the Obama shills to explain why — if the Bush spending was so bad — the much-bigger Obama spending isn’t much worse. And if the debt’s so bad, why is a drastically, radically unprecedented increase in spending the solution? I mean, it’s not like it’s being spent well . . . .

Meanwhile, I’d advise Republicans — whose prior big-spending ways came in for plenty of criticism here — that they should be pushing the spending issue hard. The defensive response from those running interference for the White House, together with these polls, suggests that it’s an issue with traction.

Perhaps they should even get behind a measure to shut down TARP and stop the stimulus spending. If nothing else, it will be fun to watch the duck-and-weave that it elicits.

Meanwhile, I’m not the only one to see this as a positive sign:

Good news. The intellectual battle for liberty is partly won. In the New York Times, David Leonhardt concedes that piling up a massive national debt is a disaster. “This debt,” Leonhardt writes, “will constrain the country’s choices for years and could end up doing serious economic damage if foreign lenders become unwilling to finance it.”

Read the whole thing. As I note above, it’s fair to criticize Bush for spending — and it’s also fair to point out the disconnect between the criticism of Bush’s spending, and the celebration — or at least covering-for — of Obama’s much greater spending. He’s “making it worse.” Much worse.

UPDATE: The Economist: “Bad as the deficit was under Mr Bush, it will quadruple this year, from $459 billion in 2008 to $1.845 trillion, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Mr Obama vows to slash it in half within four years, but that will still leave it bigger than the deficits for which he once lashed Mr Bush. His aides hint that he will get tough when the time is right, but he is reluctant to break campaign promises of tax cuts for all but the rich just yet. The CBO reckons the deficit will still be running at more than $1 trillion a year in 2019.”

DAVID LETTERMAN IN HIS DOTAGE: Yep. An old man trying to be “edgy.” Like much of the Big Media, alas. . . .

KNIGHT RIDER CANCELED: “And with that, our long national nightmare is over.” As I mentioned a while back, I caught an episode and after watching just a few minutes developed a newfound appreciation for the genius of David Hasselhoff.

MORE ORLANDO TEA PARTY PICS HERE: Also, Rachel Pereira has posted over 100 pictures. Note the appearance of John Galt:

Here’s a news report from the event. And reader Freddy Clayton sends this report from Orlando: “I am an enthusiastic reader who has checked in with Instapundit nearly daily for almost six years. I thoroughly enjoy your perceptive comments and your quirky and often witty selection of stories and links, and I have cited you to my two sons often. One of them, Walker, is home for Spring Break from Stanford, where he is a junior. He is a libertarian, and he often finds himself philosophically isolated and lonely in Palo Alto. He and I attended the Orlando Tea Party this afternoon, and I have attached a photo of Walker there. While I am an inveterate issues nerd, always eager to read about and discuss political/economic/social issues, I have not been very active politically, so today was a rare treat for Walker and me. The crowd at the rally was friendly, enthusiastic, and good-natured, and we heard few comments directed towards the President or Congress that were nasty or personally derogatory.” Here’s a picture. And there are plenty of libertarians in Palo Alto, Walker, though you may have to get off campus to meet most of them . . . .

Here’s another Orlando gallery from Gabe Chapman. As you can see the crowd was very large.

And reader Brian Gates reports from the scene: “Nice crowd. Lots of Reagan fans wearing this or this. There were also quite a few references to John Galt. I’ve been thinking of sending my representative copies of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Sure, it’s 1800 pages, but the geniuses in Congress can read a thousand pages overnight….”

Plus, reader Laurie Lane has pics from the Ridgefield, CT protest and reports: “Here are some pix I took of this awesome event of approximately 300 enthusiastic, good humored and very concerned citizens. More pix (taken with my Nikon D300) are in my gallery, link below.” Follow the link to see ’em. I note another appearance by The Debt Star! It’s everywhere! Reader Patrick Courtney also reports from Ridgefield: “I attended this event today. Beautiful weather, good sized crowd (100 expected, 200-300 in attendance).” Here’s a news report from Ridgefield.

Meanwhile, reader Peter Matthews reports from Lexington, Kentucky: “Here are some pics from the Lexington, KY Tea Party held today from noon to 2pm at the Fayette County Courthouse. At least a thousand in attendance – maybe more.” He sends this picture, among others. And there’s lots more Lexington coverage here — just keep scrolling.

And here’s another from the Raleigh protest, mentioned earlier, from reader David Moore:

What’s most striking about all of these, of course, is that these are people who don’t usually go in for protests.

Well, that and the fact that — unlike the AIG media event — the press doesn’t outnumber the protesters. Heck, it barely shows up at all.

UPDATE: Much more from Michelle Malkin. Her comment: “Maybe if the Tea Party protesters burned the American flag instead of waving it proudly, the AP would send out reporters…” And, of course, all of this is just a warmup for April 15.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More from Ridgefield, via reader Andrew Bunger: “About 200 – 300 people showed up in the historic (and very Democratic) town of Ridgefield, CT. Very polite, well organized, and very much against Dodd. I would guess it is the first protest for about 95% of us (myself included). It takes a lot to get a bunch of conservatives to stand on Main Street and shout slogans at passing cars. We have a way to go before we catch up to the professional protests of the Dems but this was the most encouraging event I have witnessed in the last year. Dodd is sinking fast in CT.”

I like the “Dump Dodd” and “Dodd Man Walking” signs.

MORE: Another Orlando pic, courtesy of reader Jay Stannard:

Plus, WRAL on the Raleigh Tea Party. Lots more Raleigh pictures here: Just keep scrolling.

STILL MORE: Reader Dan Steele writes: “Long time reader, first time commenter. Two things I think worth noting about the photos from the tea parties on Saturday: All of the signs (some made me lol) looked to be homemade by the people who were carrying them, in contrast to the pre-printed signs common at the ANSWER organized hatefests. Also, I couldn’t identify a single uniformed police office in any of the photos. Apparently, fiscal conservatives are better able to exercise their First Amendment rights without shedding their clothes, breaking stuff or lighting things on fire. Let’s HOPE that doesn’t CHANGE.”

MORE STILL: Okay, one more Orlando pic, courtesy of reader David Reid.

MICHAEL BARONE: Obama Is Losing Focus. “We’ve been hearing a lot of criticism of Barack Obama in recent days from pro-Obama corners — from celebrity investor Warren Buffett, from moderate conservative columnist David Brooks, from one of the Democratic Party’s deepest thinkers, William Galston — all along the same lines.”

DAVID CORN: White House Freakout? “You know things are bad when the administration’s economic aides see health care reform as the easy part of their day.”

UPDATE: Reader Leland Hutchinson writes: “So they know the economy is the problem. It is the most damning thing I have yet read. Why no pro-growth policies? Ideology trumping reality equals incompetence. They all need to read ‘Reagan In His Own Words.'” Good luck with that.

ANOTHER UPDATE: “Chaos.” Yes, everything is seemingly spinning out of control.

DAVID BROOKS: This is not the Barack Obama I thought I knew.

Actually, it’s the same Obama it always was. Brooks, and others, were just so excited at the idea of a black President — or, more specifically, at the idea of themselves, voting for a black President — that they suspended all critical faculties. Now it’s buyer’s remorse. We’ll be seeing more of that.

UPDATE: More buyer’s remorse from former Obama supporter Jim Cramer. “And naturally, in response, Obama’s press secretary attacks Cramer by name. Man, the Nixon Obama White House’s enemies list is growing a lot faster than the economy itself.” Well, to be fair, given the state of the economy these days that’s not very hard . . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Allah to David Brooks: “You let him off the hook.”

MORE: David Gergen?

STILL MORE: Video of Cramer, and Gibbs.

MORE STILL: Reader Barry Dauphin writes:

Is losing Gergen anything like losing Cronkite?

And what’s the deal with the press secretary?

Beats me. And reader Scott Northwood writes: “While your linking to Jim Crammer comments on the economy why don’t you link to his YouTube video touting Bearn Stearns before the fall. It’s pretty funny and a good lesson to anyone listening to these loudmouths talking heads.” Yeah, his Bear Stearns call was as bad as his Obama call.

RICK MORAN THINKS THE “TEA PARTY” PROTESTS are amateurish and disorganized. At Playboy, on the other hand, they think they’re suspiciously well-coordinated. Both are right!

Of course they’re amateurish. Most of these people have never organized a protest before (hence the tendency to do things like forget bullhorns). That’s what you get at the beginning of a movement. But it’s much bigger news when 200 people with jobs who’ve never protested turn out, than when 20,000 of the usual suspects organized by ACORN or ANSWER march with preprinted signs. If this keeps up (and I think it just might) the amateurishness will fade away soon enough. Then Moran will probably complain about the loss of authenticity.

The Playboy folks, meanwhile, miss two things. One is that, as reader Miles Wilson noted, these protests predate Santelli. The other is that modern technology allows a bunch of people who don’t know each other to coordinate a nationwide campaign “suspiciously” well. Somebody should write a book on that subject some day.

UPDATE: Some related thoughts here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Robert Crawford writes: “I get the feeling that if the tea parties were organized by a group as far-right as ANSWER is far-left, *THAT* would be the major story.”

OBAMA’S PLAN HAS ALREADY BOOSTED TAX COLLECTIONS!

In office less than two weeks, President Barack Obama has already increased tax receipts at the U.S. Treasury with an innovative plan to get tax-dodgers to pay up, in full, immediately.

“The president’s plan is simple but ingenious,” said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, “He targets wealthy individuals who filed inaccurate tax forms, cheating the government out of tens of thousands of dollars. Then he just nominates them for cabinet positions. They suddenly see the error of their ways, and they cut checks for the full amount owed, plus interest.”

Now that really is a new kind of politics!

UPDATE: Jim Treacher emails: “Has David Corn sneered about Joe the Plumber’s taxes lately?”

DAVID CORN IN MOTHER JONES: Did Obama’s economic envoy cause the mortgage crisis? Well, judging by what the Obama campaign has said in the past, yes.

NOW THEY TELL US (CONT’D): “David Greenberg in Slate: McCain’s campaign wasn’t really so dishonorable. Next he’ll be telling us that Obama’s connection to Wright was a legitimate issue.”

IN THE BOSTON PHOENIX, David Bernstein (no, not the David Bernstein) writes:

Conservative blogosphere superstar Glenn Reynolds is now leaning toward Bob Barr. Reynolds lives and votes in Tennessee, and could be a leading indicator of a decision that a fair number of folks, especially in the South (Barr is Georgian), may be considering as they start to see McCain’s defeat as inevitable.

Er, except that wasn’t my point at all. As I noted in the post (which, oddly isn’t linked as other items on the page are), the point was that my vote in Tennessee probably doesn’t matter whether McCain wins or loses, since Tennessee’s safe for him (so my vote doesn’t matter) unless he loses big (in which case my vote doesn’t matter). It has nothing to do with inevitability.

Lots of people are telling us McCain’s defeat is inevitable, but bear in mind that they’re mostly people who would prefer that pro-McCain voters stay home. Vote for McCain or not as you choose, but don’t stay home because people are telling you his defeat is inevitable. (The irony, of course, would be if Obama’s voters stayed home as a result of this line, but I assume his well-oiled vote-turnout machine will prevent that). Anyway, here’s what the David Bernstein has to say about inevitability. Wasn’t Hillary inevitable once, too?

Plus this: “Does anyone else have the feeling there’s a good portion of the country simply killing time until Obama’s coronation?” Plus, the Senate. Though in Tennessee that isn’t close, either. Bob Tuke, the Democrat running against Lamar, is a nice guy — I had dinner with him once, years ago — but that would be an upset among upsets.

OUT OF STEP WITH THE WORLD? “If Obama is elected in November, at G7 meetings, for the first time since time they began, America will have a more left-wing leader than any other member of the group – Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, and Britain (and that’s before Gordon Brown loses to David Cameron). Right-of-center government throughout the western world – except Washington.”

STEPHEN GREEN WILL BE drunkblogging the debate. Ann Althouse is liveblogging, and so is Jason Pye. Likewise Jeralyn Merritt at Talkleft. And they’re promising nonstop blogging at Hit & Run and The Corner. Also FishBowlDC. And Jules Crittenden.

UPDATE: More at The Sundries Shack, including a list of more livebloggers. And TigerHawk is livetired-blogging from Madrid

ANOTHER UPDATE: Biden keeps talking about deregulation. But wasn’t it Barney Frank, Charles Schumer, et al., who shielded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from regulation?

MORE: The McCain folks email: “Biden said McCain voted ‘the exact same way’ as Obama to raise taxes on people making $42,000/year. That’s a lie. McCain didn’t vote on either bill.”

Stephen Green: “Biden has an easy command of the facts, even when his facts are BS. Given the pressure on Palin, that’s probably all he needs to do tonight for a draw or better.”

STILL MORE: I think that Biden’s doing fine, but Andrew Sullivan disagrees: “Biden is just dreadful. He speaks in Washingtonese. She just issues the soundbites and wrinkles her eyes and tells stories. And that works. The speed and chirpiness she delivers overwhelms one’s ability to even quite absorb what she’s saying. And it has put Biden off-stride. It’s Biden who seems over-crammed.”

I think Palin’s doing fine, especially once she got on her home-base topic of energy. But Biden seems fine, too – but what will Andrew say about this: “Senator Biden, do you support gay marriage?” “No.” They conclude their discussion of the topic by agreeing that Obama, Biden, and Palin all have the same position.

There’s a poll at Drudge and Sarah Palin’s winning in a runaway. Doesn’t seem that big a gap to me, but what do I know? I thought Carter beat Reagan . . . .

Hey, now the Drudge poll has vanished, but Ann Althouse has a screenshot, and a poll of her own.

Jim Treacher is live-blogging, too: “Ah! Obama is against gay marriage. So Biden’s previous answer was… unclear.”

Meanwhile, Joe Biden is wrong about the Vice President and the Constitution — the Vice President does have a legislative role, and the VP doesn’t just preside over the Senate in case of a tie. The VP only votes in case of a tie, but voting isn’t the same as presiding. Good grief.

Also, Joe, Article I of the Constitution deals with the legislative branch, not the executive. Again, good grief.

MORE STILL: Reader David Rensin emails: “He didn’t just call the citizens of Bosnia ‘Bosniacs’, did he?” Yeah, he did.

FINALLY: Still more on Joe Biden’s constitutional flubs.

Plus, Stephen Green emails: “Jim Dunnigan and Austin Bay use the word ‘Bosniaks’ in reference in Moslem Bosnians.” So give that one to Biden. Though if I thought he actually read Dunnigan and Bay I’d give him two points.

And, yes, the VP’s legislative duties are in Article I. But that cuts precisely against the point that Biden was trying to make. Here’s what Biden said: “Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history. The idea he doesn’t realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that’s the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that. . . . The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he’s part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.” This is wong on multiple levels at once. Article I — which deals with the legislative, not the Executive branch, says: “The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.” The Vice President presides over the Senate by right, whenever he/she wants to, regardless of whether there’s a tie vote.

What’s more, Vice Presidents, until Spiro Agnew, got their offices and budgets from the Senate, not the Executive Branch. The legislative character of that office is traditional — treating the VP as part of the Executive Branch, and a sort of junior co-President, is a recent and, to my mind, unwise innovation. That’s discussed at more length in this article from the Northwestern University Law Review.

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.”

DID OBAMA MEAN TO CALL SARAH PALIN A PIG? It’s probably just a slip, but . . . “The crowd apparently took the ‘lipstick’ line as a reference to Palin.”

Reader David Schlosser emails: “This will endear him to all those disaffected Hillary voters.” And former Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift is calling on Obama to apologize.

All I can say is, some pig.

UPDATE: “Lipstick on a trainwreck.”

Plus, Tom Spaulding: “This is a major gaffe from Obama.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Marc Ambinder doesn’t think Obama was talking about Palin.

But reader Mark Martin emails: “This was just plain stupid on Senator Obama’s part. It must be due to Karl Rove mind rays or something.”

MORE: A reader emails: “Surely a man smart enough to be elected president should have foreseen how these remarks would be taken. Don’t Harvard law grads know the impact of words?” Everybody stumbles now and then. I say, don’t make any more of it than if McCain had said something similar.

On the other hand, reader Alin Corle emails: “I think if you look at the entire quote, you realize that Obama was referring to Palin in the ‘pig’ comment. In the next phrase, as reported by Politico.com, Obama referred to ‘old fish’ wrapped in a paper of change that still stinks, a clear personal attack on McCain. I think both comments taken together are quite outrageous.”

Stay tuned.

MORE STILL: Reader Meryl Jefferson emails: “Palin is, quite obviously, getting inside Obama’s head. This was beyond stupid! This will be played by McCain quite easily: Sarah will continue to bait him and he just goes for it. Remember the Wyle E. Coyote/Roadrunner meme that Ann Althouse set up when Palin was first rolled out? Well, she was right!”

Meanwhile, David Winslow invokes Trent Lott and Strom Thurmond:

Seriously, nobody with half a brain thinks Obama was referring to Palin.

But, nobody with half a brain thinks a basic compliment at your friend’s 100th birthday party belies veiled racism.

Just saying it would be nice to have these things treated consistently for a change. Consistently sane.

Hmm. As a Lott critic on that issue, I’m not sure how I should take that, but okay. And reader Tim Ryan reads the whole Obama statement and says: “He’s a skilled orator, and he brings it all back around to McCain and Palin. It is absolutely clear that he is tying Palin to the Pig and McCain to the Old Fish. He didn’t construct this accidentally or innocently. Unless you think that he isn’t skilled or smart, and we all know that he is. He tries to create some plausible deniability, but there are only two explanations – he is either a mean-spirited p***, or he’s an idiot. And the latter simply isn’t true.”

Meanwhile, Barry Dauphin writes: “Obama was inelegant in his comment. He was referring to Palin. Although it was not a good comment, getting hysterical about it is not smart. Put it this way, Obama’s comment was hardly post partisan. He’s usually a better speaker than this. He and his campaign must be quite rattled. They are playing to their base instead of going after independents. Why are they doing that, unless they are worried about their base? Do they have internal polling showing things to be worse for them than the MSM is reporting?”

Yeah, other people are wondering that, too.

And reader Alan Jan calls it “An Obama Macaca Moment. It’s the judgement stupid. You’ve got to be smart enough not to offend African-Americans by dropping a Macaca reference and you cannot drop a Pig reference if you are having problems with women in a presidential race. Could have the same impact as Allen’s misstep that cost him a close election.”

And here’s what Megan McArdle said about Trent Lott: “But it doesn’t really matter, does it? In politics we go by what they say, not what they wanted to say.”

Charles Austin weighs in: “So let me get this straight, Senator Obama is too smart to call Sarah Palin a pig but not smart enough to realize how bad this comment is going to sound to anyone not basking in the glow of his halo.”

And G.M. Roper is mailing Obama some lipstick.

STILL MORE: C.J. Burch emails: “Informal survey of the women in my house…very offended. The men…not as much. Odd.”

And Scott Llewellyn writes: “Um, you’re kidding right? a slip? a gaffe? Obama just innocently and/or randomly used images that invoked Palin (lipstick) and Mccain (age)? Someone lauded for his rhetorical skills didn’t see where that was going? Someone lauded for his intelligence couldn’t foresee that, even if innocent, his images would be interpreted as references to Palin and Mccain? This is not even a close call (my wife gasped when i told her what obama said about pig/lipstick, without knowing any context or having me prime her with a reference to Palin), and Obama can’t have it both ways (I’m a brilliant speaker, but not responsible for the obvious implications of the images I use).”

Here’s the video.

And Jim Treacher emails with a suggested McCain-Palin response:

They haven’t demanded an apology for any of the other garbage being thrown the last 11 (only 11!) days. They’ve either hit back or ignored it, and it’s worked. She hasn’t played the victim, which makes Obama look even dumber when he whines.

If I were in the McCain camp, I’d use this thing to get even further inside Barry’s head:

“We’re pleasantly surprised by Senator Obama’s newfound sense of humor, and look forward to watching it develop over the coming weeks and months.”

Heh. Jonah Goldberg has similar advice.

FINALLY: Les Jones thinks it’s much ado about nothing: “I don’t think Obama was referring to Palin as a pig. He was using a common expression (‘putting lipstick on a pig’). I say that as someone who likes Palin and who thinks Obama is a gaffe factory. There have been lots of hits on Palin. I don’t think this is one of them.” Ann Althouse more or less agrees.

And Vic Sapphire writes: “I christen this affair ‘SWINEGATE’ You heard it from me first, and I’m sure you’ll agree that the way it rolls off the tongue is delightful!”

JIM LINDGREN — WHO LOVES HIM SOME NUMBERS — DOES AN ANALYSIS and concludes that in spite of the press treatment, Obama’s speech included more negative attacks than Palin’s. But girls are supposed to be nice. His conclusion: “By continuing to spread false memes about the nature of Sarah Palin’s speech as if they were true, the press marches forward in the most biased season of political reporting I’ve seen since at least 1998.” Absolutely.

And a reader emails:

My casual discussions with ladies around the hospital where I work indicates that they have never heard of ACORN and have never heard of Bill Ayers. I suspect that they don’t know anymore about Tony Rezko either. But everyone seems to know about Bristol Palin’s fiance.

Has there ever been a time in the history of our presidential politics where the press has so willfully chosen to do what they can to elect a specific candidate to the presidency?

If the Obama-Biden ticket loses, this will be the final nail in the coffin of the main stream media. The credibility of the MSM will be irreparably damaged, and Americans across the board will come to trust the alternative media for real, working information.

Prediction: PJTV will easily eclipse the viewership of every one of the MSNBC talking heads within the first year of broadcasting.

That would be nice. Meanwhile, David Bernstein looks at a New York Times article and observes: “You would think that the author would at least mention somewhere in this article that the Democrats control both houses of Congress. You would be wrong.”

THEY’RE SAYING THAT MCCAIN HAS PICKED SARAH PALIN. The Insta-Wife is ecstatic, which may bode well for that demographic. I’d like it if she had more executive experience, but to be fair, she’s got more than anyone else on either ticket. Is she too liberal on gay rights? Not for me, but maybe for some people.

UPDATE: Sissy Willis has more, including video of an interview of Palin by Larry Kudlow.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Judging from SayUncle, Palin will play well among the crucial bitter gun-clinger demographic. [They prefer to be called ‘blasty-Americans’ now — ed. Oh, good grief.]

Plus, the WaPo’s Ben Pershing on Sarah Palin’s Porkbusting.

The pick is getting good marks from Geraldine Ferraro.

And, Palin as the anti-Ted Stevens.“In an election where the Republican’s biggest liability isn’t Iraq but Ted Stevens and the Alaskan Bridge To Nowhere, McCain took his maverick mantle by the reins and just signed up the Anti Stevens to help him root out the corruption endemic in DC.”

This rather churlish response from the Obama campaign won’t help them — dissing small towns doesn’t fit well after Biden’s “nobody is better than anybody” talk. [LATER: McCain response: “I’d think the Obama people would have learned by now not to belittle the experience of women.”]

By contrast, I just saw Palin praise Hillary Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro as pathbreakers. And that “18 million cracks in the glass ceiling” line was delightfully sly.

MORE: Reader Kyle Griffin emails: “Did the Obama campaign just accuse the Republican campaign of having a VP with insufficient experience? Was that really smart? Will we see an ad about that tomorrow from the McCain youTube team?” Yeah, it did seem like an unforced error.

An “I told you so” from Katie Granju. [LATER: Granju emails: “I’m telling you. She’s got the goods. Of course, I disagree with her on, well, mostly everything, but she’s super impressive.” Yeah, I’d never seen her speak before, and I was wrong to discount her, though I thought she’d said she didn’t want the job.]

More on Geraldine Ferraro on Palin.

Roger Simon: Obama the stodgy, McCain the Maverick.

An interesting angle from reader Frank Martin:

Question: Which state borders the Former Soviet Union?

Hey, will you look at that?, 2 years of foreign policy experience.

Well, maybe. And reader Joel Mackey writes:

As a conservative, disenfranchised from the Republican party due to their pork barrel spending, I find myself excited at the prospect of Sarah Palin as VP. Her stands against corruption, her focus on fixing issues affecting America, instead of political manuevers to gain and hold power for power’s sake, make me excited to vote for her.

The only memes that grab my attention with the Obama compaign are when he talks about reforming Washington, but his statements are so vague and his friends are so leftwing, that I suspect his rhetoric is code for changing to a more socialistic model. Whereas Palin would bring reform which would more closely resemble what Reagan would enact.

McCain has hit a homerun, possibly a game winning homerun. Her introductory speech brought a positive emotional response from me, very very rare.

If this reaction is common, I guess it’s a better pick than I had thought. But not everyone’s happy. Reader John Shirey writes:

I just don’t get it – if they were going to pick someone with such limited experience, then why not pick Jindal, who to me is one of the few Republicans I actually like (other than his absolutist stance on abortion), and despite his tender age seems extremely competent and well-spoken. The Palin selection also shows how limited his choices really were in that he couldn’t come up with a Biden-type pick (experienced, ready to lead) that somehow wouldn’t piss of the base (Romney, Giuliani, Lieberman, etc.).

As I mentioned earlier, the GOP has a bench problem. Though the Biden pick wasn’t exactly a game-changer.

Lots of thoughts at Ann Althouse — just keep scrolling as she has multiple posts. I like this: “Earth to nameless CNN website commenter: Women are not a minority.”

From Paul Mirengoff, disappointment.

Beldar put up a big background post in June. Ahead of the curve!

David Post: Sarah Who?

Jeff Goldstein notes a rhetorical snare. Heh.

From Josh Marshall, a Palin scandal. Guess the McCain vetters don’t think it amounts to much, kinda like the Biden thing.

And Col. Douglas Mortimer emails that it’s no big deal: “What’s the point of the being the Governor of a whole state if you can’t even get your sister’s asshole ex-husband fired from a gub-ment job? After all, its not like she’s been caught in a sweetheart real estate deal with a convicted felon, you know.”

“OIL THIRST: Will it transform the election?” Only if oil prices stay high, which is looking iffy.

UPDATE: Obviously some people think it matters:

Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and other liberal leaders on Capitol Hill are gripped by cold-sweat terror. If they permit a vote on offshore drilling, they know they will lose when Blue Dogs and oil-patch Democrats defect to the GOP position of increasing domestic energy production. So the last failsafe is to shut down Congress.

Majority Leader Reid has decided that deliberation is too taxing for “the world’s greatest deliberative body.” This week he cut off serious energy amendments to his antispeculation bill. Then Senate Appropriations baron Robert Byrd abruptly canceled a bill markup planned for today where Republicans intended to press the issue. Mr. Byrd’s counterpart in the House, David Obey, is enforcing a similar lockdown. Speaker Pelosi says she won’t allow even a debate before Congress’s August recess begins in eight days.

She and Mr. Reid are cornered by substance. The upward pressure on oil prices is caused by rising world-wide consumption and limited growth in supplies. Yet at least 65% of America’s undiscovered, recoverable oil, and 40% of its natural gas, is hostage to the Congressional drilling moratorium.

Is this issue a winner for the Republicans? I don’t know, but the Democrats are sure acting like they think it is.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Truman, 1948. What more can I say? (With apologies to Jan Deutsch.)

LISA SCHIFFREN: “You know, I am all for Fossella resigning. But I’m a little unclear why David Paterson, the serially adulterous Governor of NY, who recently replaced moral paragon Eliot Spitzer, gets a free pass.”

Fossella is a Republican. Paterson isn’t. And he’s black, and differently-abled to boot. Thus, a much higher threshold for him. That’s how media outcries work.

SCIENCE LEADS YOU TO KILLING PEOPLE? If this quote is accurate, Ben Stein has completely lost it.

UPDATE: Related thoughts at ChicagoBoyz.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Steve Poling emails:

You cited Derb’s quote by Ben Stein and suggest he’s lost it. I’d like to offer a brief apology (in the Socratic sense).

In the last century, we saw several governments adopt the notion that they, the government, were ultimate. Mr. Stein accurately identifies one of them, risking Godwin’s law. Meanwhile, Russian and Chinese governments were responsible for murdering millions of their citizens. The same century saw the Tuskegee experiment and other eugenics mischief under the banner of what Francis Schaeffer (franky’s dad) termed “Sociological law.” All these crimes were RATIONALIZED using science.

You’ll see this common theme running throughout Jonah Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism.” I disagree with Mr. Goldberg’s thesis, finding the common thread true of both Communist and Fascist and American Progressive mischief is a rejection of transcendent absolutes. “If there are no absolutes, then the state is absolute,” said Francis Schaeffer.

But the root problem has to do with human nature and Lord Acton’s dictum, power tends to corrupt. Since the people running the gas chambers in Germany were philosophically naturalists who dressed in lab coats while spouting pseudo-science, I don’t think Mr. Stein’s curse lands upon true scientists, but at relativists who see nothing larger than their own personal grasp on power and no transcendent checks upon its exercise.

The American Constitution is as close as this world is likely to see. I see it as a legacy of Deist and Christian framers who looked outside government for absolutes to serve as checks upon government. However, since all text is subject to interpretation, that legacy is endangered by judicial activism… Sorry to have wandered so far afield. Francis Schaeffer made the same mistake when he contemplated these things immediately after the Roe v Wade decision.

However, the absolutes vs relativism question seems to lie underneath Mr. Stein’s remarks. If just want to make him a straw man, and find an excuse to ignore everything else he says, you can frame his remarks as mere obscurantism. However, if you want to constructively engage the problems which have nettled this world for the last century or so, you might want to consider relativism’s baleful influence on Western Culture.

Auschwitz was not conceived as science, nor was it impelled by science, or scientists. The Holocaust was not a scientific endeavor, but had its roots in the Nazis’ unscientific loathing of the Jews. The Nazis did try to dress up that loathing in scientific dress, but that was a propaganda move, not science. (Indeed, Nazi science, for the most part, was dreadful science, made up by people to suit their preexisting beliefs without actual resort to the scientific method.) One can argue quite compellingly against moral relativism without engaging in raw intellectual dishonesty. Stein’s approach, however, seems more worthy of a Michael Moore. And in this spirit, do read what Jay Manifold has to say at the ChicagoBoyz link above. And here’s a somewhat related post from a while back.

MORE: Ed Morrissey comments: “I found a lot to recommend about Expelled, but this leaves me wondering if Ben Stein missed the point of his movie. Science does not lead to Dachau; ideology perverting science led to Dachau.. . . How could Stein say this without a hint of irony? The best themes in Expelled take Academia to task for the same destructive sin.”

STILL MORE: In the comments at ChicagoBoyz, David Foster writes:

I’ve enjoyed a lot of Stein’s writing, and it saddens me to see him descending to this nuttiness.

“the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed”…surely Stein knows that the concentration camps were run by the SS, 99% of whom were not scientists. While it is true that the Nazis employed chemists for nefarious purposes, it is also true that the Nazis employed musicians to help hide from inmates the true purpose of the camps. Would Stein also assert that music is evil?

Good point, exposing just how cheap Stein’s cheap shot was.

AUSTIN BAY on Petraeus, Iraq, and Congress:

Since Gen. Petraeus’ and Ambassador Ryan Crocker’s September 2007 testimony, “the Anaconda” (the incremental synergy of this complex war-fighting and nation-building process) has dramatically squeezed al Qaeda. No, it hasn’t crushed it — but the organization is physically damaged. Moreover, with the “Sunni Awakening” and similar programs, al Qaeda has suffered extraordinary political and information defeats as Sunnis publicly turned on the jihadis.

Is this victory in Iraq? No. But it suggests we’ve won a major battle with potentially global significance, the kind that in the long term squeezes al Qaeda’s ideological appeal in all corners of the planet. . . .

The Iraqi army and Iraqi government planned and executed the operation themselves. Failure? Don’t think so. This is progress. As time passes, it is increasingly clear the Iraqi army did a far better job than the Shia gangsters.

But we all know why the complex chart gets ignored and successes are glasses half-empty: A presidential election campaign is on, and the Democratic Party has bet its soul on defeat.

“Hear no progress in Iraq, see no progress in Iraq, but most of all speak of no progress in Iraq.” Thus Sen. Joe Lieberman, a member of the Armed Services Committee, deftly summed the last two years of Democratic Party posturing as well as the Democrats’ talking points in the latest hearings.

Mr. Lieberman’s maverick pal, Sen. and Republican presidential nominee John McCain, spoke more bluntly, “Congress should not choose to lose in Iraq, but we should choose to succeed.”

Read the whole thing. And read this report from the New York Times, too, which is at considerable distance from the earlier NYT analysis that Mickey Kaus is mocking today. But then, it involves actual reporting.

And don’t miss these appalled thoughts on the Petraeus hearings from Iraq blogger Alaa. “I was watching the Interrogation of General David Petraeus and the ambassador. What struck me most was the attitude and words from some of the Democratic senators. It seemed as though the enemy for these ladies and gentlemen was not Al-Qaeda, the terrorists or people like that.”

DAVID CORN: Petraeus takes The Hill; Democrats miss an opportunity.

UPDATE: Comments on Corn, from The Belmont Club.

Corn thinks the “big news” in Petraeus testimony is that there isn’t going to be a definite drawdown to pre-Surge levels any time soon. He may wish to consider another candidate for the headline. Admiral Fallon left CENTCOM amid rumor that he and Petraeus had clashed over the subject of how to respond to Iran. A recent spate of articles quoting Petraeus shifting the focus of operations to Iranian and Iranian backed groups suggests that the real context of the Surge and what follows is no longer driven by events in Iraq, but in its Islamic neighbor.

That, says Richard, is the real news. Plus this: “Corn seems to think that the proper role of the Democratic Congressmen was to discredit or attack the Surge. I would have thought their first duty was to listen to Petraeus and think about America’s strategic choices in the region. But then it’s 2008 and we all know what that year signifies.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Much more rounded up at Slate.

MORE: Some thoughts on the Petraeus testimony from Austin Bay.