Archive for February, 2008

Diebold leaks election results

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

SPOILER WARNING: Do NOT watch the below video unless you want to know who is going to win in November.

Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early

Attention grammar snobs!

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

It’s National Grammar Day!

CORRECTION: My bad. It isn’t today. Next Tuesday, March 4, is National Grammar Day.

I guess this means Hillary’s concession speech will have to be grammatically correct.

CNN Breaking News

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Britain’s Prince Harry has been serving on the front line in Afghanistan, CNN confirms.

Hucka-miracle

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Could be… Only way to find out is to sue McCain… My two cents, if it was good enough to keep A. Hamilton out it’s good enough for lesser statesmen too. (And yes, I am explicitly saying that Hamilton is a higher level of statesmen than John McCain. Go ahead, argue that one.)

In other news, if you’ve nothing better to do today, call the mint and complain at them for rejecting DC’s US quarter design… For some reason the rallying cry of the revolution, “taxation without representation” is seen as “too controversial” to put on the money. Seriously?

Unapologetic TN GOP whitewashes its Obama hit job, still misses the point

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

A follow-up to my post below about the Tennessee Republican Party’s vile, ethnically and religiously divisive smear against Barack Obama… the Somali photo and the reference to Obama’s middle name have been removed from the state GOP’s press release, and the following note added at the bottom:

Clarification: This release originally referenced a photo of Sen. Obama and incorrectly termed it to be “Muslim” garb. It is, in fact, Somali tribal garb, hence, we have deleted the photo. Also, in order to diffuse attempts by Democrats and the Left to divert attention from the main point of this release – that Sen. Obama has surrounded himself with advisers and recieved endorsements from people who are anti-Semitic and anti-Israel – we have deleted the use of Barack Obama’s middle name.

This “clarification” is grossly inadequate to resolve the issue. In fact, in a couple of ways, it makes things worse.

First of all, consider for a moment the claim that the original press release “incorrectly termed [Obama’s clothing] to be ‘Muslim’ garb. It is, in fact, Somali tribal garb, hence, we have deleted the photo.” Wait, what? Hold the phones. They’re admitting they deleted it because it is “Somali,” not “Muslim,” garb. But how on earth did its alleged “Muslimness” make it relevant in the first place?

As best as I can tell, the Tennessee GOP is now explicitly stating that, in their opinion, if Barack Obama had been wearing “Muslim” garb, that simple fact — standing alone, without regard to the photo’s actual context — would have made the photo automatically relevant to the party’s claim that he “has surrounded himself” with anti-Semitic supporters. WTF?!? Someone needs to call them out on this, force them to explain themselves further. Are they suggesting that all Muslims are anti-Semites? That if someone is a Muslim, or is wearing “Muslim garb,” that somehow creates a presumption that they’re anti-Semitic? It appears they are saying precisely that; otherwise, the “clarification” makes no sense.

This afternoon, before the “clarification” was issued, I called the Tennessee GOP and left an angry (but respectful) phone message on Bill Hobbs’s machine, asking why on earth they had concluded that the intentionally inflammatory Somali photo was in any way relevant to the press release. The “clarification” appears to answer that question, and it seems the answer is: “We thought it was relevant because we thought it made him look like a Muslim.” That answer makes them look even worse.

A far better answer would have been: “Some intern added that photo because he thought it was funny. It was a mistake. We apologize.” That, I could have accepted. Instead, they have elevated anti-Muslim bigotry to the level of official party policy! What was once implicit is now explicit. Astounding.

Secondly, the party claims it removed Obama’s middle name in order to “diffuse attempts by Democrats and the Left to divert attention from the main point of this release.” Leaving aside the misspelling of the word “defuse,” this statement is downright Hillaryesque in its mendacious spin, as it attempts to deflect the blame for the GOP’s own inexcusable mistake by suggesting that “Democrats and the Left” are somehow the villains here.

Never mind that the folks attacking the press release included such liberal luminaries as former Republican State Senate candidate Bob Krumm and conservative blogger John Norris Brown (who condemned the release even though “I would never support Obama because he’s an empty suit with whom I have almost no policy agreements”), not to mention centrist independents like myself.

Never mind that Karl Rove and John McCain himself have specifically said it’s inappropriate to use Obama’s middle name against him. (And please, let’s not pretend that the usage is somehow innocent. Nobody calls him “Barack Hussein Obama” except as a deliberate, divisive maneuver based on religion, ethnicity and race. In the actual context of reality, it is transparently bogus to claim that calling Obama by his full name is anything other than a conscious playing of the Muslim Card. We all know what’s going on here, so please, don’t play dumb.)

Never mind that it was the Republicans themselves who “diverted attention” from their own “main point” — their tenuous-but-debatable substantive claims about Obama’s “anti-Semitic” ties — with the deliberately inflammatory and divisive use of that photo and of “Hussein.” (There is no other explanation for the inclusion of the photo, nor the usage of “Hussein,” except the racist/inflammatory/divisive explanation. Their presence in the press release makes no sense otherwise.)

Never mind that the Tennessee GOP was privately scolded by the national Republican Party and publicly rebuked by John McCain for the press release.

Forget all that. According to the state GOP, this whole controversy is the liberals’ fault.

Well, I’m sorry, but that’s just not good enough. What’s needed here isn’t a “clarification,” it’s an apology. And until the state Republican Party owns up to the transparently obvious fact that they made a conscious, deliberate decision to use Barack Obama’s racial and ethnic background, and his family’s religious history — and an utterly irrelevant photo of him in “Muslim garb” — against him for political purposes… until it straightforwardly apologizes for that despicable tactic, and promises not to engage in such contemptible shenanigans again… my anger will remain intact. This mealy-mouthed “clarification” doesn’t even begin to make things right.

McCain: I liked WFB!

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

John McCain eulogizes William F. Buckley on National Review Online.

Hey, give the man credit. He knows an opportunity to endear himself to the Right when he sees it.

Tennessee GOP hits Obama with vile, divisive smear

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

*See note below about the changed title of this post.

There are no adequate words of condemnation for this.

I’ll try a few, though. Indefensible. Inexcusable. Disgusting. And, yes, racist.

The Tennessee Republican Party apparently thinks it’s appropriate to smear Barack Obama — or as they put it, Barack Hussein Obama — with an official press release accompanied by an all-too-familiar irrelevant, inflammatory photo of Obama in Somali garb, described pointedly as “Muslim attire.”

And they aren’t backing down. Far from it, in fact. They say this deliberately divisive nonsense is necessary to "inform the Republican base." Oh yes, how “informative”! Good grief!

[UPDATE: The press release has been altered, with some of the offending material removed. You can see the original here. I’ve published a new post here addressing the state GOP’s grossly inadequate “clarification.”]

The people propagating this piece of trash may not themselves be racist or bigoted — I strongly suspect they aren’t, in fact — but there’s no question they are deliberately playing the race/religion card in a way specifically designed to appeal to those who would reject Obama because of some combination of: 1) the fact that he has black skin and Muslim ancestry, and 2) the utterly discredited, Internet-fueled rumors that he’s some sort of radical-Islamist Manchurian Candidate.

And I’m just talking about the photo and the middle name (the use of which John McCain has specifically rejected as inappropriate). That’s not even getting into how misleading and mendacious that "discussion" is, engaging in the sort of guilt-by-association via six-degrees-of-separation tripe that could land any politician in hot water. (Obama would be an anti-Israel president because… wait for it, wait for it… the board of a nonprofit organization on which he once served, once gave money to a "controversial Arab group," that once said it’s opposed to Israel’s existence? Really? … I daresay I don’t think it’s terribly wise for Southern Republicans, of all people, to suggest that one’s racial attitudes can be established through such tenuous links.)

But even those who might want to debate the validity of those points will surely agree that, in any event, the inclusion of the photo is utterly indefensible, to a such an extreme degree that whatever legitimacy the press release might otherwise have had is utterly destroyed. In other words, even admitting arguendo that these "anti-Semitic" Obama connections ought to be discussed, this is not the way to do it — not by even the remotest stretch of the imagination. As such, I’m sure everyone will also agree that the Tennessee Republican Party’s disgusting, vile, racist tactics should be roundly and universally condemned, period.

(More here and here.)

All I can say to the Tennessee Republican Party is that, as an independent, centrist resident of your state who leans conservative on a number of issues, this is something that I will most certainly keep in mind as I ponder whether to support the candidates whom you nominate for state office in future elections.

Bill Hobbs, communications director for the Tennessee Republican Party, whose name appears at the bottom of the press release, can be reached at billhobbs@tngop.org, or by phone at (615) 269-4260.

P.S. By the way, on the somewhat related issue of Obama’s supposedly "anti-Semitic" foreign-policy advisor, Samantha Power — not raised in the TN GOP release, but oft-discussed elsewhere, including here — check out what the archliberal Max Boot, writing in the noted lefty publication Commentary, had to say. (If you don’t know, both of those descriptions are entirely sarcastic.) More here.

NOTE: As several commenters pointed out, the issue isn’t really whether Tennessee’s Republican leaders are themselves racists — which I’m sure they aren’t — but rather whether they are using deliberatively divisive, racist tactics against Barack Obama in order to appeal to the baser instincts of some of their constituents (which they clearly are).

As such, I’ve changed the title of this post (which was originally “The Tennessee GOP is run by racists”), along with some of the rhetoric in the first few paragraphs, in order to more accurately reflect my point — and avoid distracting from the main issue with overheated rhetoric.

I apologize for going a little over-the-top in the initial version of this post. I was in a hurry and, frankly, quite angry. But the issue here is not whether Bill Hobbs, Robin Smith or anyone else in the party are personally racist. I never really meant to seriously suggest that they are. The issue is whether they are using racially (or religiously or ethnically) divisive tactics. That’s what we (and I) should be focusing on.

Thoughts on drug advertising

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Can I start selling prescription placebo for the treatment of mild to moderate hypochondria? Side effects similar to those of a sugar pill.

R.I.P., W.F.B.

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

William F. Buckley, Jr., has died. He was 82.

Buckley was, of course, the founder of the National Review. More broadly, he was sometimes described as the "father of modern conservatism." Or, as George F. Will once put it, "Before there was Ronald Reagan, there was Barry Goldwater, and before there was Barry Goldwater there was National Review, and before there was National Review there was Bill Buckley with a spark in his mind."

I love the lede in the New York Times obit: "William F. Buckley Jr., who marshaled polysyllabic exuberance, famously arched eyebrows and a refined, perspicacious mind to elevate conservatism to the center of American political discourse, died Wednesday at his home in Stamford, Conn." (What witty remark would Buckley make if he could respond to the New York Times praising him? Heh.)

Buckley remained a National Review contributor right to the end, as can be seen here. Indeed, after he was found dead at his desk, his son said, "He might have been working on a column." Buckley also continued to make headlines, such as when he criticized the Bush Administration in 2006 for displaying "the absence of effective conservative ideology."

It was National Review‘s The Corner that first broke the news of his passing this morning, and of course there are now a whole bunch of WFB tributes on the site from different Corner contributors.

And here’s what some other bloggers are saying about his passing.

Frequent Irish Trojan contributor Texasyank writes:

The case can be made for Buckley as the most influential journalist of the second half of the 20th century. He was most responsible, first, for separating conservatism from the outright bigots and John Birchers, and second for making the defeat of imperial communism seem achievable–which, in the end, it was. When the cracking of the Soviet Empire finally occurred in the 1990s, when what Buckley had envisioned as far back as the 1940s finally happened, it happened with such a thoroughness and such a repudiation of the past that many were drawn to believe it was inevitable. It was not. The defeat of the Warsaw Pact happened because men like Buckley were able to give voice to an idea, and because men like (to list a partial honor role) Eisenhower, Dulles, Kennedy, Rusk and Reagan put that idea into action.

Personally, when I think of William F. Buckley, Jr., I always think of three classic WFB witticisms that my dad always used to quote when I was growing up. One is Buckley’s famous line: "I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University." The other two lines come from a debate when Buckley was running as a third-party candidate for mayor of New York City. Asked what would be his first act upon being elected mayor, he replied, "Demand a recount." And asked whether he wanted to make any further remarks, he quipped, "I am satisfied to sit back and contemplate my own former eloquence." (My dad — and subsequently I — have often misquoted this as "I prefer to contemplate the eloquence of my previous remarks." But I assume the Wikipedia version is accurate. Anyway, same basic idea.)

Anyway. Rest in peace, Mr. FuBuckley.*

*My dad — who, it should be noted, has greatly admired the man since his (i.e., my dad’s) days as a young Goldwaterite — often calls him "William FuBuckley," pronouncing the "F." as part of his last name. No idea why, but I like it. [UPDATE: Maybe this is why?]

UPDATE: In comments, my dad points out that "Fuhbuckley" is the more appropriate spelling. :) He also reminds me of another of his favorite legendary Buckleyisms, which I neglected to mention but which is perhaps the best of all, reproduced here, from a  letter to the editor published in the National Review:

   
      Dear Bill:
Three cheers to
Dr. Ross Terrill. He slashed you to bits as you have been doing to
yourself for the past year. Cancel my subscription.
Wm. W. Morris
Green Valley, Ariz.

      
      Dear Mr. Morris:
Cancel your own goddam subscription.
Cordially, WFB

Heh.

Under attack?

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

A pair of dual-propeller military helicopters just flew loudly over downtown Knoxville. Has the Georgian invasion begun? ;)

Unintentional self-parody 101

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Suddenly, Hillary Clinton thinks superdelegates should mind their own business: "it would be unfair and unjust to cut off the nominating process now" by closing ranks around Obama. (Hat tip: InstaPundit.)

They really have no sense of irony in Hillaryland, do they?

D’oh!

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

The orange blazer had no magic last night, as #1 Tennessee lost to Vanderbilt.

So, who’ll be #1 in the polls next week? Does Memphis take it back? Or perhaps North Carolina? More importantly, is Tennessee still a #1 seed? I’d think that, if they win out (including the SEC Tournament), they’d have to be.

Now, enough of this Go Big Orange business. :) It’s time to start getting excited about tomorrow night’s Notre Dame-Louisville game. GO IRISH!

Dem debate open thread

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

I actually don’t think I’ll be watching tonight’s (final?) Clinton-Obama debate. But if you’ll be watching and you want to comment on it, here’s your thread.

UPDATE: You can watch the debate in its entirety here:

#1 Tennessee visits Vandy tonight

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Barack Obama isn’t the only frontrunner who will be on national TV tonight trying to defend his recently acquired top-dog status against a rival’s onslaught. At 9:00 PM EST — the same time as the Democratic debate on MSNBC — the #1-ranked Tennessee men’s basketball team will face #18 Vanderbilt on the Commodores’ home floor. The game will be on ESPN, and Bruce Pearl will be in his orange blazer.

Go Vols & Go Barack!

P.S. I’m looking ahead a bit now, but take a gander at the Big East standings, and then ponder for a moment Thursday night’s big game: Notre Dame at Louisville, 7:00 PM on ESPN. Holy cow. Mike Brey’s boys playing, maybe, for a Big East regular-season championship? I love it! Oh, and did I mention it’s part of an Irish Trojan doubleheader? USC visits Arizona at 9:00 PM Thursday, also on ESPN. Sweet.

(more…)

Kudos to John McCain

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

John McCain already seems intent on running a more honorable campaign against Barack Obama than Hillary Clinton has. To wit:

Republican John McCain quickly denounced the
comments of a radio talk show host who while warming up a campaign
crowd referred repeatedly to Barack Hussein Obama and called the
Democrat a "hack, Chicago-style" politician. …

"I apologize for it," McCain told
reporters, addressing the issue before they had a chance to ask the
Arizona senator about Cunningham’s comments
.

"I did not know
about these remarks but I take responsibility for them. I repudiate
them
," he said. "My entire campaign I have treated Senator Obama and
Senator (Hillary Rodham) Clinton with respect. I will continue to do
that throughout this campaign.

McCain called both Democrats
"honorable Americans" and said "I want to dissociate myself with any
disparaging remarks that may have been said about them."

Asked
whether the use of Obama’s middle name—the same as former Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein—is proper, McCain said: "No, it is not. Any comment that
is disparaging of either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama is totally inappropriate."

There have been so many times during Hillary Clinton’s campaign — yesterday’s shenanigans being only the latest example, Buffenbarger being another recent one — when the honorable thing for her to do would have been to come out and quickly make a statement just like the one McCain made. But that’s not how Hillary operates. She thinks it makes her a good "fighter" that she never concedes an inch — that it would somehow be a sign of weakness to repudiate bad behavior by her surrogates and supporters. This attitude was fully on display yesterday, when her new "tough as nails" campaign manager, Maggie Williams, refused to condemn an obvious attempt (by someone) to play the Muslim Card against Obama, instead grotesquely accusing Obama of being the "divisive" one for daring to cry foul against such tactics. Hillary, with all her rhetoric about being a "fighter" who can go toe-to-toe with the "Republican attack machine," seems to think this take-no-prisoners approach is a badge of honor. In fact, it is a badge of shame. She is the very thing she detests (or claims to detest). Thankfully, it appears the American people see right through her, and that’s a big part of the reason Hillary Clinton almost certainly will not be our next president.