Patterico's Pontifications


Barack Obama, His Membership in the “New Party,” and His Connections to Socialists

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:51 pm

I have a number of people e-mailing me about news of Barack Obama’s membership in something called the “New Party.”

Whenever a potentially big but potentially wacky issue comes along, I like to turn to Allahpundit for sober guidance. Allah links a June article by Erick Erickson, which quotes a USA Today article as saying that the party “self-described [as] ‘socialist democratic.’” But Allah says: “I can’t tell definitively from either just how far left the NP was at the time; it may be that, like a lot of new third parties, they hadn’t quite hammered out a fixed identity yet.”

I can’t tell either, but I’ve had some fun tonight poking around looking for information about the Democratic Socialists of America, the New Party, Ayers, Dohrn, and Obama. The Freepers were an interesting source of links. (Some lefties may not like the Freepers, of course, but links are links.) I have found no smoking guns, and if you’re comfortable with presidential candidates hobnobbing with radicals and socialists, nothing I saw tonight will bother you much. But I found it all sort of interesting.


Texas Drivers Must Provide Proof of Legal Status

Filed under: Immigration,Law — DRJ @ 9:02 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Texas Department of Public Safety recently adopted new rules that require immigrants to provide proof of legal status before issuance or renewal of a Texas driver’s license. U.S. citizens will also have to provide proof of citizenship. The policy change was in response to a recent high-profile case and the requirements of the REAL ID Act:

“Public Safety Commission Chairman Allan Polunsky, of San Antonio, said he initiated the policy change after learning of a taxi driver in Dallas who had imported undocumented workers into Texas from other states so they could obtain Texas driver’s licenses.

He said he didn’t know the taxi driver’s motives but found it disconcerting that illegal immigrants could easily obtain driver’s licenses in Texas. He said the new restrictions also bring Texas into closer compliance with the federal REAL ID Act, which requires states to create specially marked licenses for some immigrants.

Perry, who appointed the commission members and announced the policy change, said terrorists who carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks had expired visas but valid driver’s licenses and identification cards issued by other states.”

While I’m on the subject, Texas should also require proof of citizenship to vote. Last year I surveyed the elections officials of all 50 states and learned that very few require proof of citizenship to register or to vote.


Because Elections Are A “Zero-Sum” Enterprise, Having A Six Point Lead is a Precarious Place To Be

Filed under: 2008 Election — WLS @ 6:40 pm

Posted by WLS:

Beldar has an interesting take over at Hugh Hewitt’s Townhall blog site on last night’s debate and the secondary headlines that are coming out of the debate analysis coverage.

His point echoes one made yesterday by Jim Geraghty at his Campaign Spot at National Review Online, revealing the return of his super inside source in GOP politics known to his readers only as “Obi Wan Kenobi.”

The upshot of both is that while Obama is certainly ahead and has every advantage over Mccain right now, the fact remains that his lead is much smaller than it should be if he were truly the transformative and undeniable political force that the left wing and MSM have made him out to be for 9 months. The lead he enjoys is fragile, as he has twice bumped up around 50% only to fall back into the mid-40s each time. Voters in that range continue to move towards him and then away from him.

Elections are zero-sum contests. Obama’s current lead of around 6 points in the average of polling reflects an advantage of only 3 voters out of 100. The movement of any one voter away from one candidate towards the other creates a two point shift in the result.

Granted, McCain has never gone above 45% with any consistency but what is the rationale for the McCain campaign? It really comes done to the fact that he is the nominee of one of the major parties. Even with that, the base of his party has never embraced him during his entire career, and the only thing he has done to excite them since he became the presumptive nominee was to name Palin as his VP.

So who has the greater burden?

I think the truth of this election cycle is that McCain can’t “win.” He doesn’t have the agenda or policy prescriptions demanded by the public. The only way he gets sworn in as President is to avoid losing.

Obama, on the other hand, must “win” — he must overcome the reluctance of a narrow slice of the electorate to see him as their President.

As Beldar points out, Obama had Hillary up against the wall and over a barrel (to mix metaphors) in the primary season when he could bank his delegate lead without fear of slippage, yet over the last 3 months of the primary season he lost one big contest after another and simply ran out the clock on her to secure the nomination. In addition to losing those contests, he significantly underperformed his polling in several of those contests.

As someone who as a young man was regularly in the company of his friends while closing down drinking establishments into the early morning hours, Obama reminds me of the guy who always had trouble “closing the deal.” Those voters who exist in Obama’s polling between 45% and 51% are happy to tell pollsters now that they’re willing to dance with him while the lights are on and the music is playing. It remains to be seen whether they are willing to “gather up their things and head for the door with him” after last call.

Geraghty quotes Obi Wan making this interesting comment about the tenuous nature of Obama’s lead:

Fourth — for me this was the the kind of insight that makes him as a Jedi Master — “Media bias may be McCain’s biggest asset in this race. First, [for the past eight years] they built McCain up into the Maverick hero [every time he disagreed with Bush] and that insulates him from the too-close-to-Bush charge. Then they can’t leave Palin alone and she keeps hitting out of the park just as they build her audience up. And now they’ve decided the election is over and given Obama an eight point lead. So if he starts to fade at any point in the next month that seems like a crash and cause a panic.”

“I guarantee you, right now there is some realist in the Obama camp who is petrified of any falloff in the polls.”

If Obama were ahead 20 points and 3 voters in 100 changed their mind between now and election day, Obama would still lead by 14 points and nobody would care. But, since he’s ahead only 6 points — after all that has happened in his favor — if only 3 voters change their mind he’s in a dead heat with a guy who was given up for dead several times already.

You Don’t Speak for Me, Katie Granju

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 4:04 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I hate gender and racial issues that unnecessarily divide us and this KnoxNews article by Katie Allison Granju is an example of that kind of unproductive divisiveness. In it, Granju criticizes Sarah Palin for her failure to recognize with sufficient humility the sacrifices of women who came before her and their contribution to her success:

For the millions of American women in their 50s, 60s and beyond who remember workplaces before second wave feminism, Palin’s attitude toward women’s issues is just plain offensive. These women toiled in work environments where bringing a child to work would have been unthinkable. In fact, they were generally fired as soon as they became pregnant. They remember the days before the law protected female workers against sexual harassment and blatant discrimination. They know that it’s only in the last generation or so that more fathers have, like Todd Palin, begun taking an equal role in childcare and household management so their wives can go out into the world as professionals. These are women who had mothers and grandmothers who told them what it was like to live in a country where women had no political voice, or even the right to vote.”

Unlike Katie, who has to interview past generations of professional women to know what they think and feel, I am that 50-something professional woman with a career, a husband, and children. I managed to do it, successfully I think, without ACLU protests or suing anyone.

Along the way, I had to change one job because my marriage violated a [newly written] nepotism rule. I quit another because of a pregnancy when I decided I couldn’t do my job properly and mother my children the way I wanted. My former employers and I learned from my experiences and we made accommodations that helped us succeed — me as a professional wife and mother and them as employers who need professional wives and mothers in the workforce.

It’s true, Katie, that women who came after me were able to succeed in part because I paved the way, but that’s true of everyone. I succeeded because men and women before me did things that made my life and career easier. Life is not a gender club and no one owes me a thing, including you.

People face challenges in life and that’s part of the deal. Instead of demanding accommodations, I did what people have been doing for generations and what Sarah Palin is doing now: I did my best. I gratefully accepted help from family and friends. I succeeded at times and not at others, and I learned from every experience.

H/T Instapundit.


New HIV / Circumcision study confirms the obvious

Filed under: General — Justin Levine @ 2:24 pm

[posted by Justin Levine]

Although studies last year confirmed that circumcision helps prevent the spread of HIV among heterosexuals, new studies suggest that it doesn’t help in terms of gay men.

My reaction to this is: They actually needed a study to figure this out??  If circumcision helped gay men in preventing them from spreading the disease through anal sex, then we would have never have seen the pattern of infection that developed in the U.S. since the majority of gay men in this country are most likely circumcised. [*]

[* I admit that to the best of my knowledge, there has been no study done reporting on the actual rate of circumcision among gay men. But I have seen nothing to indicate that the circumcision rates among gays are any different than that of the general population in the U.S. and no cause to suspect otherwise. This makes inherent sense because most people who are circumcised have the procedure performed on them as infants – well before their sexual orientation has become apparent.]

In the U.S., among the two biggest risk demographics are gay men and blacks. Blacks are among the least likely to be circumcised in the U.S., so that also fits in logically with the statistics [though the higher incidence of intravenous drug use also surely plays a role]. The circumcision evidence also helps to explain why there was such a high rate of HIV among heterosexuals in Africa (where they don’t routinely practice the measure, and where it is highly doubtful that they have a significantly higher percentage of gay men than in the U.S.).

But now, some lazy headline writers are using the new study to throw doubt on the entire HIV-circumcision connection.

U.S. News uses the ridiculous headline:  Role of Circumcision in Reducing HIV Risk Still Unclear.

The BBC has the equally misleading:   Circumcision HIV Impact Doubted.

Contrary to these assertions, the impact is quite clear:  Current evidence strongly suggests that circumcision helps reduce the rate of transmission among heterosexuals, but not among those who engage in receptive gay-male sex. How hard is that to convey in a headline? I’ll just chalk it up to another instance of irrationality among some people when discussing this topic [both HIV and circumcision, that is.]

[I’m not going to get into the religious ramifications here among those who proscribe to the teachings of the Torah that was published some thousands of years ago. I’ll leave that for others to debate – with the caveat that tonight will be one of the few times out of the year that I will be going to shul and reading parts of that book. ]

– Justin Levine

Another Stage In The Slow Death Throes Of The L.A. Times

Filed under: Dog Trainer — Justin Levine @ 1:25 pm

L.A. Observed has the goods here and here, along with the resulting backlash among the L.A. Times higher-ups.

[Note to Times reporters: You can always send stuff to Patterico if your bosses are banning you from communicating with Kevin Roderick.]

– Justin Levine

A Good Ad For Florida Came Out Of Last Night’s Debate — Obama’s Non-Answer on Iran Attacking Israel

Filed under: General — WLS @ 1:06 pm

Posted by WLS:

Obama, in my opinion, still has problems with Jewish voters and older voters with a favorable view of Israel. There also remain unanswered questions concerning his associations with various Pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic groups.

So, this exchange last night really caught my attention. This question first went to McCain and then Obama was given a chance to answer. Note the specific language of the question, and the specific failure of Obama to answer it:

QUESTION: Senator, as a retired Navy chief, my thoughts are often with those who serve our country. I know both candidates, both of you, expressed support for Israel.

If, despite your best diplomatic efforts, Iran attacks Israel, would you be willing to commit U.S. troops in support and defense of Israel? Or would you wait on approval from the U.N. Security Council?

OBAMA: Well, Terry, first of all, we honor your service, and we’re grateful for it.

We cannot allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon. It would be a game-changer in the region. Not only would it threaten Israel, our strongest ally in the region and one of our strongest allies in the world, but it would also create a possibility of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.

And so it’s unacceptable. And I will do everything that’s required to prevent it.

And we will never take military options off the table. And it is important that we don’t provide veto power to the United Nations or anyone else in acting in our interests.

It is important, though, for us to use all the tools at our disposal to prevent the scenario where we’ve got to make those kinds of choices.

And that’s why I have consistently said that, if we can work more effectively with other countries diplomatically to tighten sanctions on Iran, if we can reduce our energy consumption through alternative energy, so that Iran has less money, if we can impose the kinds of sanctions that, say, for example, Iran right now imports gasoline, even though it’s an oil-producer, because its oil infrastructure has broken down, if we can prevent them from importing the gasoline that they need and the refined petroleum products, that starts changing their cost-benefit analysis. That starts putting the squeeze on them.

Now, it is true, though, that I believe that we should have direct talks — not just with our friends, but also with our enemies — to deliver a tough, direct message to Iran that, if you don’t change your behavior, then there will be dire consequences.

If you do change your behavior, then it is possible for you to re-join the community of nations.

Now, it may not work. But one of the things we’ve learned is, is that when we take that approach, whether it’s in North Korea or in Iran, then we have a better chance at better outcomes.

When President Bush decided we’re not going to talk to Iran, we’re not going to talk to North Korea, you know what happened? Iran went from zero centrifuges to develop nuclear weapons to 4,000. North Korea quadrupled its nuclear capability.

We’ve got to try to have talks, understanding that we’re not taking military options off the table.

Is that a “NO” to the question — which concerned committing US combat troops to support Israel if it was attacked by Iran?

That scenario is pretty simple — Iran has been threatening it for years. Obama must have a formulated view of what he would do if that scenario played out. The best he offers is “we will never take military options off the table.”

I’m sure supporters of Israel are comforted by that.

About That Town Hall Debate Format

Filed under: General — WLS @ 12:46 pm

Posted by WLS:

Lots of grumbling today from the McCain camp about the way last night’s debate was handled.  I don’t understand why they are surprised.

When you have about 100 people in the room, and they are asked to submit questions to the moderator — with the moderator selecting 10-12 questiosn to actually ask the candidates — you’re going to end up with 10-12 questions that the moderator thinks are important. 

The moderator is going to ask questions that he thinks are of interest to the greatest number of voters — thus you get the most bland and generic questions being asked.   

The better practice in the future would be to put all 100 questions on 3×5 cards, put them in a barrel and spin it around.  Pick them out at random and tell the moderator to shut up after reading them — nobody is watching to get his views. 

For the future — I’d like to see a panel of journalists serve as moderators sort of like the old Meet The Press.  The Commission on Presidential Debates could send each candidate a list of 20 potential panelists.  Since the Commission is bipartisan, the list should have ideological balance — it could include both opinion and straight journalists.  Much like jury selection, the camps could each strike 7 journalists from the list, leaving 6.  From those 6, three would be picked in a blind draw, with the first drawn as the moderator.   The panelists would be free to ask follow-up questions on topics raised by the other panelists.  Make the debate 120 minutes, with 10 minutes dedicated to each question — each candidate gets 2.5 minutes to give an initial answer, then a 5 minutes free-for-all.  Force them off their talking points.

If you had paid any attention at all to the campaign over the last 90 days, you heard very little of substance last night that was new. 

That’s a wasted opportunity.



Bad Timing for ACORN Voter Fraud Allegations

Filed under: 2008 Election,Crime — Justin Levine @ 11:01 am

[posted by Justin Levine]

The left-wing group ACORN recently published a [PDF] report on their website regarding voter fraud.

The report proclaimed some key findings [on pg. 3], including the ‘fact’ that:

  • “Voter fraud is extremely rare.”
  • “Most voter fraud allegations turn out to be something other than fraud.”
  • And that, “Today, the success of voter registration drives among minorities and low income people in recent years threatens to expand the base of the Democratic party and tip the balance of power away from the Republicans. Consequently, the use of baseless voter fraud allegations for partisan advantage has become the exclusive domain of Republican party activists.”

How unfortunate for ACORN that they are now being investigated for fraud and that their Las Vegas office headquarters was just raided by state authorities over voter registration fraud allegations.

As the Las Vegas Review Journal reports:

The secretary of state’s office launched an investigation after noticing that names did not match addresses and that most members of the Dallas Cowboys appeared to be registering in Nevada to vote in November’s general election.

“Some of these (forms) were facially fraudulent; we basically had the starting lineup for the Dallas Cowboys,” Secretary of State Ross Miller said. “Tony Romo is not registered to vote in Nevada. Anyone trying to pose as Terrell Owens won’t be able to cast a ballot.”

“We don’t know how many (falsified forms) are here; there may be two, or there may be thousands,” said Bob Walsh, spokesman for the secretary of state’s office.

Incredibly bad luck for ACORN – given how ‘rare’ this sort of stuff is. What are the odds?

I’d probably be more outraged if I felt that this election would change much of anything one way or the other. Republicans have a tendency to insult my intelligence around election season. Democrats have a tendency to insult it year-round.

– Justin Levine

College Student Indicted in Palin Email Hacking (Updated)

Filed under: 2008 Election,Crime — DRJ @ 8:16 am

[Guest post by DRJ]

A University of Tennessee student, the son of a State Democratic lawmaker, has been indicted in connection with the hacking of Sarah Palin’s online email account:

“David C. Kernell, 20, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Knoxville for intentionally accessing without authorization the e-mail account of Palin, the governor of Alaska and Sen. John McCain’s running mate, according to U.S. Attorney James R. Dedrick.

Dedrick said Kernell, the son of state Rep. Mike Kernell, D-Memphis, turned himself in to federal authorities today for arrest.

He is to be arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley.”

This was a stupid thing for this young man to do and could impact him for the rest of his life, but it’s hard for me to feel too sorry for him. He made a choice that he immediately regretted, which shows he knew better. And there will undoubtedly be some who will treat him as a hero. His defense fund can’t be too far behind.

Trial has been set for December.

UPDATE 2: Orin Kerr has concerns about the indictment. I’m not sure I agree with Prof. Kerr, although I don’t practice criminal law so this is just my off-the-cuff guess. It seems to me there may be multiple crimes that could be piggy-backed: If the first crime was the unauthorized intrusion into Palin’s email account, perhaps it was done in furtherance of the second crime of revealing the results of that intrusion on the internet.

H/T Instapundit.


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