Patterico's Pontifications

9/21/2008

Flashback: Sullivan Praises Judgment of Presidential Candidate in Picking Fresh, Youthful, Uplifting, Positive (But Inexperienced) VP Candidate with Broad Grin

Filed under: 2008 Election,Buffoons,General — Patterico @ 10:59 pm

Hot Air Headlines has Sullivan’s praise for this VP candidate:

THE RIGHT CHOICE: Well, this is just what I had hoped for – and it’s easily the best choice available to Kerry, who now passes his first presidential judgment test. Edwards is uplifting, while Kerry is a downer; he can touch the Democrats’ heart, not just their minds and their wallets; he’s fresh and youthful in a way that will only contrast sharply with Cheney; he can speak – and we need more in politics who have his kind of rhetorical skill; he’s positive, which is important in a rancid political atmosphere. Substantively, I don’t like his background among the trial lawyers, nor his protectionism. But I’ve come to think of him as a decent man, who shied from the easy snarl in the primaries, and who believes in this country’s promise in ways that some on the left have lost touch with. He’s the anti-bitterness candidate. And his presence will change the dynamic. The trouble with Bush’s and Cheney’s fundamental position – you cannot trust anyone else to wage this war – is that it must inevitably conjure fear and danger. Americans also like broad grins and happy futures. Edwards will give them plenty.

Me, I like Sarah Palin’s broad grin better than John Edwards’s. But then, I’m not Rielle Hunter or Andrew Sullivan.

Potential Bombshell: Was Obama’s Chief Media Strategist David Axelrod Behind an Astroturfing Campaign to Promote a False YouTube Smear Against Sarah Palin?

Filed under: 2008 Election,General — Patterico @ 9:28 pm

Rusty Shackleford at the Jawa Report has done a bang-up job tying Obama’s chief media strategist David Axelrod to a smear of Sarah Palin.

Rusty painstakingly documents a trail of evidence that ties a professional PR firm to a supposedly amateur YouTube smear against Palin. And it turns out that the firm and other people involved in the project have ties to Axelrod.

If you were a fan of my posts outing the sock-puppeting of Michael Hiltzik and Glenn Greenwald — posts that whack the subject across the head repeatedly with evidence and leave you shaking your head and chuckling — then you’re going to love Rusty’s post. Here is the key evidence:

* Evidence suggests that a YouTube video with false claims about Palin was uploaded and promoted by members of a professional PR firm.

* The family that runs the PR firm has extensive ties to the Democratic Party, the netroots, and are staunch Obama supporters.

* Evidence suggests that the firm engaged in a concerted effort to distribute the video in such a way that it would appear to have gone viral on its own. Yet this effort took place on company time.

* Evidence suggests that these distribution efforts included actions by at least one employee of the firm who is unconnected with the family running the company.

* The voice-over artist used in this supposedly amateur video is a professional.

* This same voice-over artist has worked extensively with David Axelrod’s firm, which has a history of engaging in phony grassroots efforts, otherwise known as “astroturfing.”

* David Axelrod is Barack Obama’s chief media strategist.

* The same voice-over artist has worked directly for the Barack Obama campaign.

[UPDATE: One more fact that probably should have been added: a senior Obama advisor is one of barely over two dozen Facebook contacts for the alleged uploader. Many of the other contacts are his family members.]

Some of the most convincing evidence is material that you can hear with your own ears. Play this video and tell me whether the voice-over artist is the same throughout.

I listened to it, and the answer is clear: yes it is.

Read Rusty’s post to see why this matters.

If Big Media doesn’t pick up on this story, it will confirm every suspicion we have ever had about their bias.

Go and read it now.

UPDATE: I’m sure there’s nothing to any of this. That’s probably why the smear video in question has, all of a sudden, been taken down from YouTube — within an hour of Rusty’s post going up.

Consciousness of guilt?

The Palin Effect

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 9:08 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I’m not a big Bill Clinton fan but when he’s right, he’s right:

“MARIA BARTIROMO: Were you surprised by the Palin bounce for the McCain campaign?

PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: No, she’s a– she’s an instinctively– effective candidate. And with a compelling story. And– and I think it was exciting to some– that– that she was a woman. It was exciting that she was from Alaska. It was exciting that she’s sort of like the person she is. And she grew up in a– came up in a political culture and a religious culture that is probably well to the right of the American center. But, she didn’t basically define herself in those terms. She’s basically said, “Look, this is where I’m from. I’m not gonna impose this on you. This is what I wanna do that I think we can all be a part of.” So, she handled herself very well. So, I– no, I wasn’t surprised. I think that– you know, I disagree with them on a lot of these issues. And that’s why aside from party affiliation, that’s why I would be for Senator Obama and Senator Biden anyway. But– but, I think she– I– I get why she’s done so well. She– she’s– it’s a mistake to underestimate her. She’s got good in– sorry– intuitive skills. They’re significant.

A number of Floridians agree with Bill Clinton judging by today’s Sarah Palin speech before enthusiastic supporters in The Villages outside Orlando, Florida:

“Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin told wildly cheering, flag-waving, chanting supporters that John McCain is “the only great man in this race” and promised Sunday he will fix the nation’s economy if voters give the GOP four more years in the White House.
***
The Villages, a vast, upscale planned community north of Orlando, has about 70,000 mostly adult residents — many of them military retirees — who vote reliably Republican in statewide races. Tens of thousands inched along roads into the picturesque town square of the complex, where they stood in sweltering heat for about four hours as local GOP officials and a country band revved up the crowd.

“Sa-Rah! Sa-Rah!” they chanted at every mention of her name, applauding loudly and waiving tiny American flags that were distributed — along with free water bottles — by local volunteers. The fire chief estimated the crowd at 60,000.”

It sounds like 6 out of every 7 residents showed up for this event or there were a lot of people from neighboring communities. That’s a lot of over-55 voters.

EDIT: See Steve’s comment below. The fire chief may have overestimated the crowd size since other officials estimated it at “25,000 or more.”

I know it’s ideologically off but imagine what a Bill Clinton-Sarah Palin ticket could have done.

– DRJ

Colorado Helps Teenage Fathers

Filed under: General,Government — DRJ @ 7:55 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Friday’s Denver Post includes an article on federally-funded programs that help teenage fathers continue their education and take responsibility for their children. The article notes that there have been few efforts to help teen dads father their children, but studies show there are surprisingly few teen fathers and many want to take responsibility for their children — unlike their stereotypes as absent and irresponsible:

“Their numbers are relatively few: Among men ages 15 to 19, only 1.7 percent were unwed fathers, according to a 2002 study by the National Center for Health Statistics. Most teen mothers identify fathers who are beyond their teen years.

“Notions about the sexual behavior of late-adolescent guys and those in their early 20s set a stereotype that they’re some sort of sexual marauders,” said Freya Sonenstein, director of the Center for Adolescent Health at Johns Hopkins University. “When you actually collect data — and even if you’ve thought about your own experience and friends’ — you figure out that this is really not the case for the vast majority of young men.

One study through the Bank Street College of Education in New York City offered counseling and other services to about 400 teen fathers in eight cities. After two years, 82 percent said they had daily contact with their kids, nearly three-fourths contributed financial support and 90 percent still had a relationship with the mother.”

The biggest problem many teen fathers face is rejection by the mother’s family, who often force them out of the picture after learning of their daughter’s pregnancy:

“At the University of Colorado Denver, associate professor of sociology Candan Duran-Aydintug studied 16 teen fathers in the metro area over nearly four years to explore their understanding of fatherhood.

In 13 of the cases, the mother’s family shunned them, which proved the strongest deterrent to any kind of social support.

“It’s one thing to be pregnant as a girl, but we really don’t trust young boys,” Duran-Aydintug said. “Young men have a bad reputation to start with. I think it’s a reflection in the girl’s family that they want one less headache to deal with.

“But the more you dis them,” she added, “the more they act like they don’t care. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

Colorado’s program to help teen fathers was started in 2006 as part of a 5-year, $10 million federal grant as part of a Responsible Fatherhood initiative. Colorado officials note that much is done for teen mothers but little for teen fathers, and these programs are an effort to remedy that disparity. Rich Batten, family and fatherhood specialist for Colorado’s Department of Human Services, described the mission this way: “Fatherhood changes men. We try to help them step up to the role that’s come upon them and be more engaged.”

There are several anecdotal reports at the linked article as well as specifics of the programs Colorado has in place. Their main concern seems to be that funding will stop at the end of the grants.

I hope not. This is a program that seems to be worth far more than its cost in dollars.

– DRJ

Republicans Sought Better Oversight Over Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae; Democrats Opposed It

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:49 pm

Barney Frank wants CEOs to reduce their pay if they’re going to get a big government bailout.

It’s a thought. But, then, maybe Frank should consider reducing his own pay — since he and other Democrats opposed Bush Administration efforts to more closely regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Just a reminder:

New York Times, September 11, 2003:

The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.

Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry.

The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business. And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios.

Of course, the plan was opposed — by Democrats, including Barney Frank:

Among the groups denouncing the proposal today were the National Association of Home Builders and Congressional Democrats who fear that tighter regulation of the companies could sharply reduce their commitment to financing low-income and affordable housing.

”These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”

Representative Melvin L. Watt, Democrat of North Carolina, agreed.

”I don’t see much other than a shell game going on here, moving something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing,” Mr. Watt said.

Remind me why we care what Barney Frank thinks again?

P.S. Another reminder. Who said this?

For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac…and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market…If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie and Freddie pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.

That’s John McCain from 2005, speaking in support of legislation to control Fannie and Freddie. See Karl from a few days ago for more.

Barack Obama was concerned as well — concerned, that is, to make sure he was collecting as much money as possible from Fannie and Freddie. He did well, too, becoming the third top recipient in the Senate of Fannie and Freddie contributions from 1989-2008. [UPDATE: Make that second top recipient.] (Karl pointed out related figures days ago.) That’s fast work, since he’s been a Senator for only 4 years.

UPDATE: Yes, I know Republicans controlled Congress during this time. But this election is between McCain, who tried to do something, and Obama, who took money from Fannie and Freddie. As Ed Morrissey noted in the post linked above, the 2005 legislation never made it out of committee — and “Chris Dodd, then the ranking member of the Banking Committee and now its chair, was in the middle of receiving preferential loan treatment from Countrywide Mortgage, one of the companies gaming the system in the credit crisis.”

FBI Serves Warrant on Hacking Suspect

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:28 pm

WBIR in Knoxville reports:

The FBI is stepping up its investigation into the possibility that a University of Tennessee student hacked into the personal e-mail of Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

A person who identified himself as a witness tells 10 News that agents with the FBI served a federal search warrant at the Fort Sanders residence of David Kernell early Sunday morning. Kernell lives in the Commons apartment complex at 1115 Highland Ave.

David Kernell is the son of Mike Kernell, a Democratic state representative from Memphis.

Service of a search warrant does not equal guilt, and I reiterate that the true hacker may have misdirected authorities to this young man. Or, he could be the hacker. We don’t know, but it’s worth keeping an eye on the situation.

Organizers of Anti-Iran Rally Threatened with Loss of Tax-Exempt Status if Palin Invited

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:59 pm

I figure most of you already know about this, but you deserve a thread to discuss it.

As Allah says, name ‘em and shame ‘em — and “get in their faces” — just like Obama wauld do.

Lefties on Privacy for Conservatives

Filed under: 2008 Election,Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 1:06 pm

Attention conservatives: in case you didn’t understand it before, it should be clear now. There is strain of leftists out there who think that any violation of your privacy — any violation — is justified because of your political beliefs.

And this group is not a fringe group. They have some pretty prominent microphones.

For example, in an online dust-up at the L.A. Times web site, Amanda Marcotte tells us:

If the words “sanctity of life” or “sanctity of marriage” ever pass between your lips, I consider that an open invitation for the citizenry to file through your underwear drawer and follow you into any airport bathroom to witness any foot-tapping antics.

Now, Marcotte’s comment is made in the context of discussing Palin’s parenting abilities — but her comment makes it clear that she supports any intrusion if you’re a conservative.

Amanda Marcotte is no fringe voice. She is the editor of the popular Pandagon blog and has a published book — all sufficient to get her invited to participate in an online debate on the Los Angeles Times web site. She was even hired for a time to do blogger outreach for then-presidential candidate John Edwards, until the philanderer decided she was a liability because (among other things) she tends to call religious people “godbags,” which religious people don’t find endearing.

Here’s another example, from Tom Boggioni:

Ace O’ Spades takes time out from his long twilight struggle against Amanda Marcotte’s vagina to declare World of Warcraft Jihad on that kid who “hacked” Caribou Barbie’s emails causing her great harm slight trauma deserved ridicule over how stupid her password was.

That’s like reacting to your neighbor’s home burglary by ridiculing him for having a bad lock on his front door. You would never think to make such a asshole comment about your neighbor. Unless your neighbor is a Republican and you’re a Democrat, of course — because then your neighbor would be evil, so the niceties don’t really have to be observed.

(By the way, Boggioni accompanies his attack on Ace with a picture that Boggioni apparently considers unflattering, complete with a caption mocking Ace’s appearance. This attack on Ace’s looks comes from a guy whom a commenter once described as “an old(er) guy who looks like [a] metrosexual version of McCloud.” Apparently because Ace has his hands apart in the picture, under Ace’s face in the picture are the words “INVISABLE ACCORDION.” Yes, “invisible” is misspelled in the caption.) [UPDATE: Apparently, this may be some sort of LOLcats thing. Maybe someone at the L.A. Times could explain it; they're the LOLcats experts.)

Tom Boggioni is no fringe voice. Sure, he may be a "[f]ormer bulk purchaser of women’s undergarments.” Currently, by day, he may be a “czar of positioning cash registers to maximize retail commerce and flow.” But by night, he runs “TBogg” — a blog sufficiently popular to garner an invitation to be hosted on the wildly popular lefty blog FireDogLake.

And he thinks it’s hilarious that a conservative’s e-mail was hacked.

Get it through your heads, conservatives. If you believe in any restrictions in abortion on demand — any! — then there is no violation of privacy so egregious that these people wouldn’t chuckle if it happened to you. If you have the gall to oppose doctors sticking scissors into babies’ heads and sucking out the brains with a suction catheter, then you’re “anti-choice” — and anti-privacy. And that means it’s OK to go through your underwear drawer.

If someone burglarized your home, copied your diary, set up a camera in your bedroom, and published everything they found online, Amanda Marcotte and Tom Boggioni and their readers would laugh and laugh until they couldn’t breathe.

Only one type of privacy violation seems to disturb them. They’ll get very mad if you try to listen to phone calls placed by terrorists.

Such hardball tactics, you see, should be reserved for the real enemy.

Republicans.

Challenging times for free market advocates

Filed under: Economics,Government — Justin Levine @ 12:28 pm

[posted by Justin Levine]

I tend to echo much of DRJ’s sentiments on this issue. Now that the government has effectively nationalized the mortgage industry and is doing the same with various banking and insurance pillars of the economy, it is time for free market advocates to go on record to state if they would prefer the economic consequences of doing nothing to the current bailout plan. If they reluctantly accept the bailout plan, then it seems to me that some rethinking of their philosophy is in order.

As for myself, I always tend to believe that the burden of proof is on the government to show that regulations will have substantially more benefits than drawbacks before imposing them. Here is where I tend to disagree with many of strict free market advocates though:

1. I think that the government is actually capable of meeting the burden of proof referenced above on occasion for certain industries. I’ve met some people who seem to think that such a hurdle is never met.

2.  Sometimes, complete regulation, or even outright socialization in rare instances is actually preferable to partial or small amounts of government regulation.

This second point is where I seem to have the biggest disagreement with many of the free marketers that I run into these days. Whenever government introduces a regulation that begins to distort market principles, free market advocates seem to accept it as inevitable, but then argue against any further regulations of the same industry. This can be a mistake in my view, since it then allows the private actors in the market to then abuse the market system and often use the initial regulations to shield themselves from the consequences.

Here is an illustrative example: Like many states, California requires you to purchase car insurance in order to drive a car. However, there is no socialized car insurance industry. You have to purchase the insurance from private players who are usually able to set their own prices and terms for their product. Had it not been for this law, there would have been many periods in my life where I would not have bought insurance (because my car was a worthless piece of junk, and my personal assets weren’t all that much either — so it made economic sense for me to forgo insurance and risk the costs associated with a potential accident).

So now that you have a government law/regulation forcing you to buy a product from a private industry, does it make more sense to have the government thoroughly regulate the prices and policies of that industry to make sure that the consumer is protected from predatory market practices that the government has encouraged with its initial regulation? I say yes. For this reason, I’m glad that there is a California Insurance Commissioner that helps regulate the industry. But I know many who would say no.  They seem to argue that as long as there is “competition” among several insurance carriers, the law forcing you to buy insurance doesn’t constitute enough of an unfair market distortion for consumers such that it warrants further government regulation. [There are also a few nitwits who would actually argue that I can just make the “free market economic choice” to not drive in Southern California. Those people and I are simply on different planets when it comes to arguing economic policy.]

Which brings us back to the current economic situation with Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, and a host of other institutions. I would argue the same dynamic is at work here. Freddie and Fannie were born out of government tinkering with market principles in a half-assed manner. So now the government was faced with a stark choice:  More thorough regulations of the institutions, or a complete economic meltdown that would adversely affect everyone — including those who steered clear of the housing industry and are effectively “innocent” players here.

That is what I see as the real challenge for free market advocates today. There are very few genuinely laissez-faire institutions left when it comes to the large pillars of our economy. We could face this same situation again if we are lulled into thinking that 20% government regulations will always be better than 60% government regulation in all situations in every industry. Regretfully, many use the term “free market” as just a reflexive talking point these days rather than as a substantive idea that reflects the realities of today’s commerce.

So says I. Political party hacks and talking point robots can naturally continue to send the Justin Levine hate mail to Patterico.

- Justin Levine

UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Stephen Macklin dissents from Justin’s opinion, here.

UPDATE X 2 BY JUSTIN LEVINE:  I welcome Macklin’s comments. The reason I turn off comments is to encourage more substantive reactions like his that you get far more often in actual blog posts that link back to the original post, rather than off the cuff ramblings in the comment section.

With that said, I don’t see Macklin’s recation as much of an actual ‘disssent’, even though he tries to frame it in that language. He actually seems to agree with me much more than he is willing to admit.

As he states:

I see the question as, “The government created this crisis. Can and should the government have a role in fixing it?”

Despite my adherence to the idea of a free market, even to the point of it being a “reflexive talking point,” I do see a role and a responsibility for government in cleaning up its mess.

Here. Here.

I agree with him that the current situation is not a “failure of the free market”, and never said as such. My point was that government helped create this mess with half-hearted and partial regulations. And as such, it makes sense for them to minimize the damage with even more robust regulations. That is a point that Macklin seems to agree with.

My other point that perhaps Macklin fails to acknowledge is that few actual “free markets” exist anymore since government regulation now touches virtually every important sector of our economy. Even the very idea of a federal manipulation of the nation’s money supply causes market distortions. As such, it makes sense to consider further government regualtions to tame the market abuse of private players whose abuse was only enabled by the initial half-assed regulations to begin with (see for instance my automobile insurance example above which Maklin does not directly address).

UPDATE X 3 BY JUSTIN LEVINE:  Macklin his updated his thoughts and now explicitly admits, “This is not the free market we’re talking about here, this is the government. The best approach is to regulate it. Regulate it. And regulate it some more.”

Exactly my point to begin with. In many instances, thorough government regulations are far more preferable than half-assed partial regulations that distort free markets and create incentives for predatory abuse among private players who are shielded from the consequences until it is too late. Forgive me if I declare victory in this non-debate.

Treacher Reports on Palin Misspelling

Filed under: 2008 Election,Humor — Patterico @ 11:25 am

(No, there’s no actual misspelling. For those of you who don’t know, Treacher is a satirist — and a darn good one, as you’re about to see.)

Treacher:

Media Bubble, Sept. 20 — John McCain’s presidential campaign is reeling this morning upon allegations that his running mate, Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin, is a poor speller. The charge stems from a passage found in her personal journal, which was obtained by the New York Times via an anonymous source.

. . . .

“I am gobsmacked,” said the NYT’s source. “Little did I realize when I bought a plane ticket to Alaska, broke into the governor’s house, and vetted through her personal belongings that I would find such a startling, stunning bombshell. My heartache at John McCain’s blunder is without limit. Would you like to know where I take loads?”

It’s very funny, and you should read it all.

However, the part about Sullivan is unrealistic — because the joke hinges on the conceit that Sullivan would bother to do all that work. Yeah, he’s unhinged . . . but as between his laziness and his obsession with Palin, his laziness will win out every time. As long as he can draw a full-time salary sitting on his Power Glutes and blockquoting material, adding one line of dishonest analysis here and there, he’ll do it.


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