Kidnapped by Japan - How A Mother's Dying Wish Led To A Father's Unimaginable Loss

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Friday Zen

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What The ?

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Nope, I have no idea what this is, but this was the tag attached to the video:

These things are turning up in Eastern Europe and Russia in fresh water ditches, lakes and underground streams. Can you identify it? It's not a horseshoe crab, freshwater, kinda seem mean as well...


El Rushbo More Generous Than El Socialist-o (Nancy Pelosi)

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A week or so ago, this story came out which shows that conservatives, we of the icicles where our hearts should be, are more generous than bleeding heart (but not bleeding their money) liberals:

Sixteen months ago, Arthur C. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University, published "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism." The surprise is that liberals are markedly less charitable than conservatives.

If many conservatives are liberals who have been mugged by reality, Brooks, a registered independent, is, as a reviewer of his book said, a social scientist who has been mugged by data. They include these findings:

-- Although liberal families' incomes average 6 percent higher than those of conservative families, conservative-headed households give, on average, 30 percent more to charity than the average liberal-headed household ($1,600 per year vs. $1,227).

-- Conservatives also donate more time and give more blood.

-- Residents of the states that voted for John Kerry in 2004 gave smaller percentages of their incomes to charity than did residents of states that voted for George Bush.

-- Bush carried 24 of the 25 states where charitable giving was above average.

-- In the 10 reddest states, in which Bush got more than 60 percent majorities, the average percentage of personal income donated to charity was 3.5. Residents of the bluest states, which gave Bush less than 40 percent, donated just 1.9 percent.

-- People who reject the idea that "government has a responsibility to reduce income inequality" give an average of four times more than people who accept that proposition.

Brooks demonstrates a correlation between charitable behavior and "the values that lie beneath" liberal and conservative labels. Two influences on charitable behavior are religion and attitudes about the proper role of government.

Now comes word from the New York Post's Page Six that the general is also the specific as it turns out that the Big Man of Conservatism, Rush Limbaugh is considerably more generous than the Liberal Queen of the House, Nancy Pelosi:
RUSH Limbaugh is much more charitable than Nancy Pelosi. According to Peter Schweizer in "Makers and Takers: Why Conservatives Work Harder, Feel Happier, Have Closer Families, Take Fewer Drugs, Give More Generously, Value Honesty More, Are Less Materialistic and Envious, Whine Less . . . And Even Hug Their Children More than Liberals" (Doubleday), the most recent tax records show Limbaugh gave money to "various individuals in need of assistance mainly due to family illnesses" ($109,716), "children's case management organizations" ($52,898) and "Alzheimer's community care" ($35,100). And Pelosi's contributions? The list includes the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art ($36,500) and San Francisco Symphony ($5,600). "But with the exception of an occasional $1,000 contribution to a Boys & Girls Club, little went to the less fortunate," Schweizer, a Stanford professor, writes. To be fair to Pelosi, Limbaugh makes about $33 million a year, while Pelosi's salary as Speaker of the House earns her just $217,400.

As to poor Nancy making a piddling $217,400 per annum and thus making her lack of giving an amount comparable to Rush's more understandable, it isn't exactly the whole story. This is:

One of the most prominent is Nancy Pelosi, leader of the Democratic minority, who lists assets of up to $92 million held jointly with her businessman husband Paul. They include two vineyards, one valued between $5 million and $25 million and the other valued between $1 million and $5 million, and a stake in a restaurant chain worth as much as $25 million. They also own three pieces of prime San Francisco real estate—one being their personal dwelling in the posh Pacific Heights neighborhood—each valued at up to $5 million. Rounding out their real estate holdings are two mountain townhouses and a share in a resort, worth up to $11 million combined.

Conservatives don't just have better policies; they're better people, too.

Cross Posted at Liberty Pundit

Barack Non-Denies Rumors Of Michelle's "Whitey" Video

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Barack Obama was finally asked, point-blank about the existence of the rumored video of the gracious Michelle ranting about "Whitey" at the Trinity United Church of Christ while sitting cozily amidst Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan. Given the opportunity to dismiss the rumor definitively, Obama...didn't. Instead he offered up this squishy response:

We have seen this before. There is dirt and lies that are circulated in e-mails and they pump them out long enough until finally you, a mainstream reporter, asks me about it,” Obama said to the McClatchy reporter during a press conference aboard his campaign plane. “That gives legs to the story. If somebody has evidence that myself or Michelle or anybody has said something inappropriate, let them do it.”

Asked whether he knew it not to be true, Obama said he had answered the question.

“Frankly, my hope is people don’t play this game,” Obama said. “It is a destructive aspect of our politics. Simply because something appears in an e-mail, that should lend it no more credence than if you heard it on the corner. Presumably the job of the press is to not to go around and spread scurrilous rumors like this until there is actually anything, an iota, of substance or evidence that would substantiate it.”

Now I have no inside knowledge as to whether the video exists or not but I do have inside knowledge of what a reasonably intelligent person would say to deflate such a rumor: I'd say, "No, it doesn't exist. My wife never said it, doesn't speak that way, has never spoken that way and would never say such a thing. Obviously this is being spread by certain people for some sort of political advantage." And because it is Barack Obama talking, the denial would end with these words, "Change, change, change, change, change. Hope."

But this non-denial of his can do nothing more than give the rumor new buoyancy. As Johnnienie Cochran might say, "If its just a big lie, why not deny?"

Yeah. Why not?

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Thursday Zen

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Impossible But True - Creepy Chris Matthews Becomes Even MORE Repulsive!

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MSNBC, carving out a niche as having the weirdest, most obviously deranged on-air "talent" must have been pleased with Chris Matthews' performance Tuesday night in which he referred to the Larry Craig "Memorial Bathroom".

Rumors that it is Saturday Night Live's Darrell Hammond and not actually Matthews in the video above have not, as of yet, been proven.

McCain Launches Independent Run - Republicans Sit This One Out

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A Parody, But Just Barely

Senator John McCain has launched his Independent candidacy for President with just the kind of performance the media has been looking for in the former Republican: high-mindedly piling praise on also-ran Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama. McCain was effusive in his praise of Senators Clinton and Obama saying,

I commend both Senators Obama and Clinton for the long, hard race they have run. Senator Obama has impressed many Americans with his eloquence and his spirited campaign. Senator Clinton has earned great respect for her tenacity and courage.

The media often overlooked how compassionately she spoke to the concerns and dreams of millions of Americans, and she deserves a lot more appreciation than she sometimes received. As the father of three daughters, I owe her a debt for inspiring millions of women to believe there is no opportunity in this great country beyond their reach. I am proud to call her my friend. Pundits and party elders have declared that Senator Obama will be my opponent. He will be a formidable one. But I’m ready for the challenge, and determined to run this race in a way that does credit to our campaign and to the proud, decent and patriotic people I ask to lead.

The mainstream media was delighted with his lackluster delivery and the speech's tepid audience reception. On CBS, Jeff Greenfield said,
There's no energy here. There's no crowd behind him the way there was with Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. You see the slogan, 'A Leader You Can Believe In' that's designed to say 'I'm the Commander in Chief and Obama's credentials are weak.' But you can barely read the slogan because he's blocking it. Also, if you were the oldest candidate ever to run for president and you want to communicate a sense of dynamism, you want to surround yourself with energy, and that is not what happened in McCain's event last night.

It has also been reported that the five voters who really prefer a high-minded campaign as opposed to a lively one are impressed as well. Most exciting of all to the msm and to Democrats everywhere was the ease and actual pleasure with which McCain pounded his former party.
I have worked with the President to keep our nation safe. But he and I have not seen eye to eye on many issues. We’ve disagreed over the conduct of the war in Iraq and the treatment of detainees; over out of control government spending and budget gimmicks; over energy policy and climate change; over defense spending that favored defense contractors over the public good.

I disagreed strongly with the Bush administration’s mismanagement of the war in Iraq. I called for the change in strategy that is now, at last, succeeding where the previous strategy had failed miserably. I was criticized for doing so by Republicans. I was criticized by Democrats. I was criticized by the press. But I don’t answer to them. I answer to you. And I would be ashamed to admit I knew what had to be done in Iraq to spare us from a defeat that would endanger us for years, but I kept quiet because it was too politically hard for me to do. No ambition is more important to me than the security of the country I have defended all my adult life....

When members of my party refused to compromise not on principle but for partisanship, I have sought to do so. When I fought corruption it didn’t matter to me if the culprits were Democrats or Republicans. I exposed it and let the chips fall where they may. When I worked on campaign finance and ethics reform, I did so with Democrats and Republicans, even though we were criticized by other members of our parties, who preferred to keep things as they were. I have never refused to work with Democrats simply for the sake of partisanship. I’ve always known we belong to different parties, not different countries. We are Americans before we are anything else.

Adding to the excitement was the reaction from the Right-Wing attack machine. Radio talker and hate monger Laura Ingraham had this to say,

As for McCain, God bless him, he simply does not inspire at the lectern. He looks bored and we feel bored. And while there were a few fun lines in his address, he still has the stiff "screen-lock" look reading the teleprompter. It's too bad that Obama capitalized on the "Change" brand because McCain is the one who needs it most: he needs a change in approach, a change in emphasis, a change in substance. McCain emphasized ending "partisan rancor" and boasted "I have never refused to work with Democrats...if I'm elected president the era of the permanent campaign will end." President Bush thought he could do the same by having Ted Kennedy write his education bill and by massively expanding Medicare. Look where that got him. Here's a clue: If you truly believe the left's agenda for America is destructive, working with Democrats ain't that honorable.

In response to Senator McCain's respectful treatment, presumptive nominee Obama responded,

My differences with him — my differences with him are not personal. They are with the policies he has proposed in this campaign, because while John McCain can legitimately tout moments of independence from his party in the past, such independence has not been the hallmark of his presidential campaign.

It’s not change when John McCain decided to stand with George Bush 95 percent of the time, as he did in the Senate last year.

It’s not change when he offers four more years of Bush economic policies that have failed to create well-paying jobs, or insure our workers, or help Americans afford the skyrocketing cost of college, policies that have lowered the real incomes of the average American family, widened the gap between Wall Street and Main Street, and left our children with a mountain of debt.

It’s not change when he promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi politicians, a policy where all we look for are reasons to stay in Iraq, while we spend billions of dollars a month on a war that isn’t making the American people any safer.

So I’ll say this: There are many words to describe John McCain’s attempt to pass off his embrace of George Bush’s policies as bipartisan and new, but “change” is not one of them.


“Change” is not one of them, because change is a foreign policy that doesn’t begin and end with a war that should’ve never been authorized and never been waged.

As is widely known, the Republican Party, unable to find a satisfactory conservative to carry the Reagan mantle, decided for the first time since running John C. Fremont for President in 1856 not to run a candidate for the highest office in the land.

It is unknown whether they ever will again.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Barack Obama - Tony Rezko's Get Out Of Jail Card?

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Barack Obama cannot be happy with this news:

After deliberating over 12 days, the jury of 10 women and two men convicted Rezko on 16 of 24 counts that accused him of corrupting two state boards and using his influence in Blagojevich's inner circle to squeeze cash from firms seeking state business.

The two-month trial laid bare an ugly underbelly of Illinois politics, in which high-rollers and powerbrokers secretly called the shots on state deals.

"What the jury did was vindicate the interests of the citizens of Illinois and honest government," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said.

Jurors said their verdict had nothing to do with Blagojevich or Obama -- neither of whom was charged in the case.
But Obama did not have just a passing acquaintance with Rezko. Stephen Spruiell at NRO points out the less than savory nature of their actual relationship:

The verdict comes as Obama is securing the Democratic nomination and trying to put behind him yet another controversy involving Trinity United Church of Christ. It should be stated at the outset that Obama was not involved in any of the illegal acts a Chicago jury has found Rezko guilty of committing. But Obama is guilty of maintaining a close relationship with Rezko long after it had become clear that Rezko’s primary business was buying and selling political influence for personal gain.

The following fact pattern was out in the open long before Obama severed his ties to Rezko (sometime in late 2006): In 1983, Rezko started raising a lot of money for Chicago politicians. In 1989, he and his partner Daniel Mahru started vacuuming up deals with the city to develop low-income housing, despite having virtually zero experience in the field. They proceeded to obtain over $100 million in city, state, and federal grants and bank loans to develop 30 run-down properties into affordable-housing projects, earning $6.9 million for themselves. By 2007, the city had sued them numerous times for failing to heat these properties; over half of the properties had fallen into foreclosure, and six of them were boarded up.

Obama helped put one of these deals together during his time as a junior associate at Davis Miner Barnhill & Galland. Other lawyers at Davis Miner helped Rezko acquire half of the properties that fell into disrepair. And many of these properties were located in the district Obama represented as an Illinois state senator. Nonetheless, Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times that he was unaware of Rezko’s growing reputation as a slumlord until he read Sun-Times reporter Tim Novak’s two-part series on the subject. So we are to believe (yet again) that Obama was the last person to know what one of his longtime friends was up to.

And Obama's proclaimed ignorance certainly worked to his benefit at the time but is now leading to raised eyebrows:
Even if Obama can claim plausible deniability about the deteriorating shape of Rezko’s slums, he faces a more difficult challenge in explaining why he entered into a real-estate deal with Rezko after the Chicago papers had run over 100 stories about the clouds gathering over Rezko’s head. When the Obamas were looking for a new house in the summer of 2005, Rezko helped them buy their dream home by purchasing an adjoining lot they could not afford, then selling them a strip of the land on which they wanted to build a fence.

Obama admitted to the Sun-Times that when he bought the strip of land, he knew Rezko “was going to have some significant legal problems,” and characterized his decision to buy the property anyway as a “boneheaded move.” Obama said he proceeded with the transaction because Rezko had always acted “in an above-board manner with me and I considered him a friend.”

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown takes note of a somewhat odd occurrence, immediately following the verdict and its possible implications.

Rather than ask U.S. District Court Judge Amy St. Eve to remain free on bond while he awaits sentencing, as is customary in federal court here, Rezko opted to go directly to jail.

He did not pass go. He did not collect 200 excuses as to why he shouldn't have to start serving his sentence.

Heck, he didn't even wait for his sentence.

Even St. Eve seemed to raise her eyebrows just a twitch as Rezko's lawyer, Joseph Duffy, announced to the court, "It's Mr. Rezko's intention to start serving his sentence immediately," in the process saving her from having to make the decision.

That is a very unusual development.

So what are we to make of it?

As Brown points out there may be perfectly reasonable possible reasons for his action. Rezko may have felt his bond was going to be withdrawn by the court so better to spare himself the indignity. Maybe it was his way of showing some sort of contrition before sentencing so that it might help him get a lighter sentence, etc. Or perhaps he had other reasons:
Tony Rezko is a guy who knows a lot about a lot of people. Those people have a very serious stake in him keeping his mouth shut. Rezko is also known to be a very security-conscious guy.

I know this is going to sound overly dramatic, but it's not really that far-fetched to think Rezko may well believe he's in danger if he goes free and that by reporting to jail it's proof that he's not cooperating.

It's one way of saying, "You don't have to worry about me."

Serving time at the Metropolitan Correctional Center is not light duty, as Rezko already knows.
It may sound cruel, but at some point, Rezko is going to have to decide if he wants to see them [his famiily] again outside a courtroom or a prison visitors' room, and when that day comes, he still has some cards to play.

And wouldn't it be nice if he were playing those cards in a game with the President of the United States?

The fact that such a question can reasonably be asked just goes to show how much is left to be learned about Barack Obama and his long list of disturbing associates.

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Wednesday Zen

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Jimmy Carter endorsed Barack Obama for President last night. In other news, the sun will set this evening and puppies are cute.

Ahmadinejad Preps For His Meeting With Obama

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Just remember that this is the man Barack Obama wants to meet without preconditions.

Bardot Battles The Barbarians

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This disturbing story in from France:

France's 1960s screen icon Brigitte Bardot was fined 15,000 euro ($A24,440) on Tuesday for inciting hatred against Muslims by attacking the ritual slaughter of animals in Islamic culture.

In December 2006, the film star-turned-animal rights activist wrote to France's then interior minister, now President Nicolas Sarkozy, arguing Muslims should stun animals before slaughtering them during the Eid al-Adha holiday.

She outraged anti-racist groups by saying: "I've had enough of being led by the nose by this whole population which is destroying us, (and) destroying our country by imposing their ways."

Aged 73 and suffering from arthritis, Bardot has been convicted four times before in similar cases. She was absent from today's hearing.

"The court ruled that the comments in question clearly referred to the Muslim community and constituted a legal offence," said judge Nicolas Bonnal.

France is home to Europe's largest Muslim community, estimated at five million people.

Many countries and civilizations have had their freedom taken from them by conquerors but very few have given it away. France and much of the West seems prepared to do just that. It is a sad and bizarre spectacle when a "sex kitten" and former movie star has more courage than supposed "statesmen". Bardot had written to the court saying,
"I'm sickened by how (these organisations) are harassing me. I will not shut up until stunning is carried out" on animals before their ritual slaughter."

Bravo to Bardot. Shame on France.

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That's The Signpost Up Ahead

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You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, the Twilight Zone!

Submitted for your approval: America 2008, a land so strange and distorted that a man lacking in virtually any relevant experience, no known leadership qualities, no sensible policies. with a pool of general knowledge so lacking that he thinks the United States has 57 states and whose life has been spent surrounded by people who continually rant about their hatred of America actually wins the nomination of a major political party.

But even in this warped universe, a man this flawed doesn't reach such a position without supporters. What could such people be like? How do they speak? What do they say? Let's listen in, first in a gathering place of such people. A gathering place called...The Huffington Post:

America is already in decline, and mercifully so, so all McBush could do is further the decline. The problem is that America is in decline economically, politically, scientifically, and ethically. Minus a radical restructuring of the financial system and abolishing the Fed, there's little that either McBush or Obama will be able to do to stop the economic decline. And so long as the corporations and lobbyists and military control the political system and hold the absurd belief in America's hegemony, the politics won't change. In science and engineering, we're sliding into a pit. And as for ethics, we're in the pit already. Frankly, it hardly matters whether you peddle hope or fear, because America is probably beyond rescue, no matter who is president.

McSame looks like he's reading from three different cameras. He turns so militarily almost like he's clicking his heels with each turn. It's so terrible and so phony. Now he's trying to rag Obama with his so-called experience and Obama's so-called inexperience. Boooooooooooooooo!
A Lovely day, a Lovely day, its gonna be, a lovely day
A Lovely day, a Lovely day, its gonna be,


But there are other gathering places in this mad land. Another such is a place spoken of only in whispers, a place known as...The Daily Kos

people like these. Entrepreneurs should love the idea of universal healthcare, since the threat of losing health insurance is shackling so many people to jobs they don't like when what are yearning to start their own businesses.

As MBAs they should understand that investing in green infrastructure will catapult American industry and technology into the 21st century marketplace.

Apparently they lean conservative, so all of the wasted money in Iraq has to bother them, and McCain is offering a hell of a lot more of that and is not explaining the benefits,other than if we leave it's surrender and that's unacceptable, which is bullshit since the prolonged engagement in Iraq has damaged our military's combat readiness as well put our gains in Afghanistan (Al Qaeda's real base of operation) in serious jeopardy. So there's no sense for military minded or national defense minded conservatives to vote for McCain.

I could go on and on.

as a white woman raised in the south, i never thought we'd see this day in my lifetime. i have never been more happy to be wrong. i am crying tears of joy over this, too, for you and your ancestors and mine and the many generations to come.


John Cornyn is an asshole with shoes. Support Rick Noriega!


Yes, this world is filled with such odd and deluded people, but there is no more twisted mind in this strange place than the man called Olbermann:

And now we'll depart this frightening land, fearful that if we stay, say until November, this warped and broken world might go that extra step into the weird, into the bizarre, into the unknown darkness of ...The Twilight Zone

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Tuesday Zen

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"Mom, I've Got To Study. Where Are My Electrodes?"

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Kids in the future can forget about all that dull sitting around in classrooms, listening to dull teachers droning on and on. All that will be needed will be an appartus something like that worn by the gentleman above according to this story from London. It may be that only...

...thirty years down the line, kids will learn by downloading information directly into their brains, predicts the head of Britain's top private schools organisation.

While speaking to the Times Educational Supplement, Chris Parry, the new chief executive of the Independent Schools Council, made a startling forecast that "Matrix-style" technology would actually make traditional lessons outdated.

...Already, Parry, a former Rear Admiral, has given three years to find out the future strategic context for the military in a senior role at the Ministry of Defence. And now, he is ow preparing the ISC's 1,300 private schools, which collectively teach half a million children, for a high-tech future.

Of course in thirty years Britain will be run by radical Muslims, but I guess that's a different story...

Don't Worry, Be Happy - Why Hillary May Still Have The Last Laugh

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There's little doubt (and hasn't been much in weeks, really) that Barack Obama is going to wrap up the Democratic nomination soon. In all likelihood neither he nor Hillary Clinton are going to pick up enough delegates after today's South Dakota and Montana primaries. Both of them will be standing there just shy of the finish line, battered, bloodied and short of breath. But the one standing a few feet closer to the finish line, the one with the most delegates tonight is going to get picked up and pushed over the that line by super-delegates eager to see the game end well in advance of the convention in August. And that one is going to be Barack Obama.

Time for Hillary to fold her tent and go home? Well it certainly sounds like it may be in the cards. Yesterday, everyone's favorite Lothario sounded like he was getting ready to turn out the lights.

Bill Clinton acknowledged Monday that today may be his last campaigning for his wife.

"I want to say also, that this may be the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind," the former president said at a town hall at the Milbank Visitor Center.

Clinton was talking about how his entire family was campaigning in South Dakota, and that he believed Hillary might surprise people in the primary Tuesday.

Acknowledging the campaign's likely fate, he went into more detail reflecting on the experience of stumping across the country for her.

"I thought I was out of politics, 'til Hillary decided to run," he said. "But it has been, one of the greatest honors of my life to go around and campaign for her for president. "

Hey, you big lug, chin up. There may still be some hope left yet. And Hillary probably knows it. According to the evil (and therefore close to the inner workings of the Democratic Party) Huffington Post,

Hillary Clinton has summoned top donors and backers to attend her
New York speech tomorrow night in an unusual move that is being widely interpreted to mean she plans to suspend her campaign and endorse Barack Obama - if not that night, within a day or two.

Well, "suspending" a campaign is not the same thing as "ending" one, especially in the the particular world in which the Clintons dwell where language is often more complex and nuanced than we, lesser beings usually understand it to be. (Remember if you will Bill claiming that he and Monica were never "alone" together because there were other people in the White House at the time. You know, like upstairs or four offices down the hall.) The "suspension" of a campaign leaves just enough daylight that a Clinton can wriggle through, too.

Also, Hillary has certainly taken the measure of Obama and has, no doubt done a forensic investigation of his background of such scrupulosity that the assembled casts of the entire CSI television franchise would be left breathless. She knows this guy is a time bomb. Already the Internet is buzzing with stories about video of Michelle Obama loosing it . And as more and more radical associates keep popping out of the woodwork, the gaffes keep piling up as well.

Hillary may yet have a surprise bombshell or two that she could still unload on Obama, although it seems likely that if she had one she'd have leaked it by now. But she may be counting on a slender thread of hope, the hope that Obama who is probably the most damaged, weakest, candidate in modern times will self-destruct before August. And if he does, who is a shocked and frightened Democratic Convention most likely to turn to? Actually, she could even come in on her white horse even if she were to technically end her campaign and release her delegates to Obama.

That would seem be a small hope until you take a look at Obama and when you do you start to see that Hillary may just have the last laugh after all.

Addendum: This morning, after writing the above I saw Democratic strategist Bob Beckel on Fox and Friends. He mentioned certain "rumors" floating around the Internet that involve Michelle Obama, obviously referring to the "Whitey" video that it is now being hinted will be released over the next day or two. While voicing some degree of skepticism about it he suggested that, if true it would profoundly effect the Obama campaign, although he demurred when it was suggested that Hillary might hold off of exiting the race until after its release. He looked shaken when speaking about it.

Don't worry, Hillary. Be happy.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Late Monday Zen

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Myanmar Won't Let Help, Help

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Liberals are forever bemoaning that the US has lost the respect of "the world", leaving an uninformed listener to think that this "world" must have some mighty high standards that the US can't match. Myanmar is typical of much of that "world" and, despite liberals' illusions, standards of any kind are certainly something that are in far shortly supply overseas than they are here.

This story relates the ugly situation:

More people will perish in Myanmar's cyclone disaster zone unless the regime lifts restrictions on foreign aid, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates warned Sunday, accusing it of "criminal neglect."
Nearly a month after the storm tore through swathes of Myanmar, around 60 percent of the 2.4 million survivors remain without foreign aid, despite some opening-up by the military rulers after an intense UN-led diplomatic push.

The junta blocked entry to overseas aid workers in the critical days after Cyclone Nargis pummelled the impoverished nation on May 2-3, leaving 133,000 people dead or missing.

"Unless the regime changes its approach, its policy, more people will die," Gates said en route to Bangkok after a regional security forum in Singapore.

"I would describe it as criminal neglect."
The situation is reminiscent of Ethipia in 1990, when famine relief sent by the US was either sent away or left to rot on the docks when a civil war made starving millions pawns in the hands fighting factions.

The next time that liberal friend of yours shakes his (her) head in despair about the US' falling respect in the "world", remind him (or her) what that "world" is really like.

Ready, Set, Contact? SETI Goes Wide

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SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence which has long suffered from a lack of resources with which to carry out its mission of looking for signals from the stars is getting a major shot in the arm over the next few years. According to this story Microsoft's Paul Allen has given SETI a $30 million gift which will,

...will enable researchers to search a million stars over 10 billion radio channels.

"The cosmic haystack is about to get enormously bigger,"
said Jill Tarter, director of SETI's research department.

She declined to estimate the odds that this new pitchfork will actually uncover an alien civilization. But she has a growing sense of excitement as the new telescope prepares to sweep the heavens for beeps and burps that could signal alien intelligence.

"It's hard to imagine how stupendous it would feel to find
something," Tarter said in an interview at SETI's Mountain View headquarters.

A plain-spoken woman with a shock of silver hair cut short, Tarter was
the model for the Jodie Foster character of Ellie Arroway in the 1997 movie "Contact," about the discovery of an alien broadcast. She has spent more than four decades -- her entire career -- trying to answer the are-we-alone question.

Now 64, she still hopes that, like Arroway, she will get her eureka
moment. If humans do find something, everything we think we know about our place in the universe will be in for serious rewriting, she says. Human beings would no longer be creation's crowning achievement. In fact, we might not even make honorable mention.

"If we find a second technological civilization, we
will know there are many," Tarter said. Earth would be transformed from an outpost to just another commuter station on a nearly infinite railroad line.

But Tarter is trying to keep her expectations low.

"It's also possible we are unique," she said.

Contrary to decades of bad science fiction movies and other odd stories, aliens are unlikely to show up at our doorstep and are far more likely to be detected remotely, not that this will be especially easy.

To catch a signal from an alien race, you either have to build an
enormous dish, like the 1,000-foot-diameter Arecibo facility in Puerto Rico, or connect many smaller dishes together, like New Mexico's Very Large Array, which has 27 dishes, each 82 feet across.

At Hat Creek, computers will combine
data from its 350 dishes to produce, in effect, one giant telescope. "What we're doing is creating a big dish, 90 acres across," Forster said.

Even with this level of technology, the SETI scientists acknowledge it's a quixotic quest.

On a recent afternoon, senior astronomer Seth Shostak, 64, was showing a visitor around SETI's headquarters when a harried-looking white-haired man rushed by.

"This is Frank Drake," Shostak said reverentially.

The stocky, distracted man extended his meaty hand, shook quickly and sped off, a little like the White Rabbit from "Alice in Wonderland."

Drake disappeared down the rabbit hole of alien research decades ago. He not only mounted what many people count as the first serious experiment to search for aliens, he also created the landmark Drake Equation, a set of mathematical assumptions that attempts to predict how many advanced civilizations might exist in the Milky Way galaxy.

The equation is N = R* x fp x ne x fe x fi x fc x L. It says that the number of civilizations we might communicate with (denoted by N) equals the rate of star formation (R*) multiplied by the fraction of stars that have planets (fp) multiplied by the average number of planets around a star that can support life (ne) multiplied by the number of those planets that actually develop life (fe) multiplied by the fraction that develop intelligent life (fi) multiplied by the fraction that develop technology that can be detected from Earth (fc).

All this is then multiplied by the length of time a technological civilization can exist (L). Remember, our world entered the broadcast age only a century ago, and has already come close at least once -- the Cuban missile crisis -- to snuffing itself out.

Some researchers have suggested that the answer could be up to 1 million alien civilizations in the Milky Way. Drake's solution? Ten thousand alien civilizations, in a galaxy of 100 billion stars.

If any signal is detected the likelihood is that it will be from a civilization at least thousands of years older than we are. If such a signal could be translated (a big "if") it may hold answers to questions that mankind has wondered about from the beginning of history: How was the universe formed? Why? Is there a purpose to existence?

Its the possibility of answers to questions like that keep the scientists who are working at SETI involved and fires their imaginations. And keep many of the rest of us out here rooting for their success.

Rumor Alert: Parody Becomes Reality: Michelle Goes Off On "Whitey"

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No sooner had I written the parody post below when news comes of the imminent release of a rumored tape of Michelle Obama ranting about "Whitey" at the Obama's now ex-church. If the tape is legit and delivers the sordid goods, they will be posted by Larry Johnson at No Quarter this morning. If it gets posted I'll update here asap and post if if possible.

As Larry says,

Now I know why people who have seen the videotape say it is stunning. Barack’s headaches are only starting.
Parody becomes reality?

Update: Sadly no video but Johnson claims :
I have not seen it but I have heard from five separate sources who have spoken directly with people who have seen the tape. It features Michelle Obama and Louis Farrakhan. They are sitting on a panel at Jeremiah Wright’s Church when Michelle makes her intemperate remarks. Whoops!! When that image comes out it will enter the politcal ads hall of fame. It will be right up there with the little girl plucking daisy petals in the famous 1964 ad LBJ used against Barry Goldwater.
We shall see, but it doesn't sound like good news for the Obamessiah.

Flopping Aces is on the story

So is Stop The ACLU

As is Outside The Beltway

6/4/08 Update

The whole Michelle/Whitey video story may yet turn out to be all smoke but it is becoming more elaborate daily. According to Stop The ACLU via Hillbuzz:

Here's what's known so far:

The Michelle Obama Rant Tape was filmed between June 26th - July 1st 2004 in Chicago, IL at the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Conference at Trinity United Church: specifically the Women's Event.

Michelle Obama appeared as a panelist alongside Mrs. Khadijah Farrakhan and Mrs. James Meeks.

Bill Clinton spoke during the Conference, as did Bill Cosby and other speakers, but not at the panel Michelle attended.

Michelle Obama spoke at the Women's Event, but referenced Bill Clinton in her rant --- his presence at the conference was the impetus for her raving, it seems.

For about 30 minutes, Michelle Obama launched into a rant about the evils of America, and how America is to blame for the problems of Africa. Michelle personally blamed President Clinton for the deaths of millions of Africans and said America is responsible for the genocide of the Tutsis and other ethnic groups. She then launched into an attack on "whitey", and talked about solutions to black on black crime in the realm of diverting those actions onto white America. Her rant was fueled by the crowd: they reacted strongly to what she said, so she got more passionate and enraged, and that's when she completely loses it and says things that have made the mouths drop of everyone who's seen this.

The "tape" is a DVD that Trinity United sold on its website, and possibly offered free for download up until March 2008 when Trinity's site was scrubbed and the DVDs were no longer offered for sale.

This outburst happened just one month before the 2004 Democratic Convention, when Barack Obama delivered the keynote address.

If this is all bs, my congrats to the bs-er for imagination and initiative. If it isn't bs, how this plays out should be fascinating.

Obama Agonistes: Everyone Barack Knows Hates America! How Was HE To Know?

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A Parody - I think

The Barack Obama campaign continues to reel after the revelation of a just completed and comprehensive study conclusively proving that everybody Senator Obama has ever known hates America. The study, conducted by a research organization said to have ties with Senator Hillary Clinton (who denies any connection, saying she was "saddened but not surprised that Senator Obama would try to divert attention from this very damaging study and place the blame on a woman.") traces Obama's personal relationships back to his earliest days up to the present time.

Attempting to address the study the Obama campaign released a 10,000 page statement responding to each accusation contained within it. In the statement's 100 page summary Obama says,

This study is a shallow attempt to break the back of hope, the hope that I have spent my entire life trying to bring. I will not allow those who try to divide Americans to do so again. No longer will those who love America be divided from those who don't. No longer will the forces of division separate us based how much we love...or hate America. I see a new day when those who think America is a shining city on a hill seek kinship with those who see America as the greatest force for evil in the history of the world.

I think MSNBC journalist Keith Olbermann said it best when he said that this study is "The worst study in the WORLD" not just for one day but for an entire week and I agree."

The Obama campaign's point-by-point refutation of the charges leveled against the Senator includes responses to many relationships unknown to the public until this time. In a section dealing with Obama's time as an activist in Chicago the study notes his relationship with Mustaffah Kill-America, the owner of his local deli in which the study claims ,
The deli's sandwiches were given names such as the "George Washington was a slave owning pig" ham sandwich, and the "Sacrificial Lamb on Rye".

In response, the Obama statement says,

Each time I frequented that particular establishment I noted the pain in Mr. Kill-America's eyes and I saw his naming his sandwiches as he did as his way of coming to terms with this country and therefore his way of healing. I continue to see him as my mentor when it comes to the salted luncheon meats.

I could no more disavow my favorite deli-man than I could disavow my favorite mechanic who was convicted of trying to turn an '87 Chevy into a car bomb, based solely circumstantial evidence.

In responding to the study's revelation that the Reverend O. P. Pressed, the pastor of his new church, the O. P. Pressed Church Oh' Christ, had written his senior thesis on the topic of "America Is Responsible For Every Lousy Thing That Ever Happened To You. Blow The Sucker UP!", Obama explained,
The Reverend O. P. Pressed was, at that time working out his inner conflicts about a country which he dearly loves but about which he had become disillusioned and so was working his way through this personal turmoil in his thesis. And I will remind you that the charges against him for allegedly assisting the Unabomber were dropped for insufficient evidence.

The study also revealed Obama's relationship with faux native American, disgraced Left-wing former faux academic Ward Churchill who Obama has described as his "Eagle Spirit" mentor. Obama said that he met the America-loathing Churchill when Churchill was trying to decide what minority he wanted to make believe he was. Obama's statement says,

I was impressed by his dedication to escaping from his oppressor identity and stepping into a new role. I could see the sincerity he brought to pretending that he was a Native American and could feel the burden that he assumed when he realized all the suffering he would have to make believe he had gotten from his make believe ancestors. It was profound and life-changing for me.

I couldn't deny him the hatred he now felt for America, realising the very personal connection he now had with his faux forebears. I can no more reject Churchill than I could all the other people making believe they are something other than what they are. And now that he is pretending to be a hermaphrodite, pretend-experiencing all the suffering that particular demographic has experienced, there is no way that I would or could ever disavow him.

Besides highlighting the fact that everyone Obama has ever known hates America the study also delves some other aspects of his life that some find troubling. It reveals Obama has never read a book that doesn't have a subject matter doesn't, in some way hold America responsible for some social ill. The study has uncovered a comment Obama made as a college student in which he said,
"That Communist Manifesto is the best book I've ever read. I'm going to spend the rest of my life trying to bring it to life!"

Responding to this in his statement Obama explains,

"Sure, I was a young man with the whole world opening up in front of me and I've always spoken in terms of "aspirational totems" and the goals of the Manifesto remain distinctive in the annals of humanity. While I don't subscribe to all of its particulars I could no more disavow it than I could disavow Howard Zinn's The People's History of the United States or the movie, Loose Changes by those cool high school kids. They are all life-changing experiences and to deny them would be to deny a part of America that speaks to our greatest hopes for change and brighter tomorrows and cotton candy and bluebirds and cute little kittens.

These things are my cultural mentors and I could no more disavow them than I could my autographed Che' hand grenade.

Although his statement has been met with extreme skepticism by those frequently described as being Right-wing wackos such as talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, more reasoned voices in the media have been more willing to take Obama at his word.

CBS anchorwoman Katie Couric said on air that,

"Obama's eloquent response to this attack on him has been known to drop people to their knees in tears, rending their garments and muttering to themselves that 'finally a new day in American politics is dawning.' As a personal aside I have to say that I too choked back tears as I read what many are calling the greatest piece of writing in the history of mankind, including Shakespeare and Toni Morrison."

According to the latest Rasmussen poll, Senator Obama has widened his lead over Senator John McCain to 25 points.

Hot Air talks about Obama leaving his church.
So does Below The Beltway
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air gets it
Liberty Pundit also talks about BO leaving the church
Betsy's Page discusses Fr. Pfleger