Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It isn't voter fraud unless...

This is just ridiculous.

The defense offered in this story (and many others) is that "There are no known instances of fictitious people actually voting...". Are you kidding? We're supposed to shrug off bogus voter registrations as unimportant unless there's an actual vote? There's nothing suspicious about registering non-existent (or dead, or ineligible) people to vote?

So it's OK if I pollute my town's voter rolls with hundreds of false voter registrations unless (until) somebody actually votes under a false registration?

It doesn't matter that the election workers have to deal with the noise of bogus registrations? Faced with reports of bogus registrations, I would expect (hope) that election workers would be more careful vetting voters on Election Day. But maybe then we'll hear that voters are being "harassed" or "suppressed".

Try this on as a conspiracy theory:

ACORN (or somebody else) contrives to falsely register thousands of bogus voter names, and they (and the press) shrug it off as "not real voter fraud, because nobody has actually tried to vote (yet) under a bogus registration."

But election officials, faced with reports of bogus registrations, are compelled to examine voter credentials more closely on Election Day.

"Closer examination" of voter credentials is deemed by some to be "voter suppression."

So we're faced with two possible outcomes (under the assumption that massive registration fraud has taken place): many fraudulent votes are cast, and/or there are charges of "voter suppression" when thousands of voters (most or all legitimate) are subjected to unusual scrutiny (in an effort to eliminate fraudulent voters).

Consider some possibilities:

Obama wins, but there are challenges about those thousands of false registrations sponsored by ACORN, an organization he has worked with in the past and actually contracted with to foster voter registrations.


McCain wins, but there are complaints of "voter suppression" as election workers try to screen out the false voters represented by the bogus registrations.

It's a no-lose situation for ACORN, set up by themselves.

Monday, October 06, 2008

John McCain and Me

I attended the United States Naval Academy for a brief time: I was inducted on July 6th, 1972, endured Plebe Summer (a sort of Basic Training for midshipmen), and the first semester of the academic year, then resigned at the beginning of second semester.

It's a complicated story: I am immensely proud of being accepted, enduring Plebe Summer, and being a part of the Class of '76, even though I decided not to continue, for complicated reasons best discussed in another post.

It was a trying time. Plebe Summer is designed to push you past limits you thought you had and recognize that you can perform at higher levels than you believed possible. Once you think you've got it under control, academic year arrives with the pressures of new upperclassmen, academics, and new responsibilities. I probably performed at the highest levels of effectiveness in my life, but received the poorest feedback (a 2.58 GPA, which wasn't half bad, in retrospect), and decided that "I wasn't good at it" and decided to bail and study Computer Science at WPI (which has worked out very nicely, as it turns out).

My time at USNA was probably the longest eight months of my life.

While I was there, we were very much aware of what was happening to previous USNA graduates, including Marines (the Marines are a branch of the Navy, and many Marine officers come from the academy), river boat ("Swift boat) forces, and, of course, Navy pilots.

Now let's compare:

John McCain was a graduate of the academy (in an era where the life of a mid was even more strenuous than mine), and had walked the same halls I had in Bancroft Hall. He had become a prisoner of war on October 26th, 1967, when I was in eighth grade. He was tortured or neglected for most of the time I was in high school. He had been a prisoner for almost five years before I started my "ordeal" at the academy, and he was released about a month after I left.

My point:

I believe that I have been tested, and succeeded to a degree, to an extent that few Americans have. I take a certain pride in that.

John McCain has been tested to an immeasurably greater degree, and passed those tests admirably.

I will follow him anywhere.

And I close my ears to those who will belittle him.

"McCain scares me"

I've heard this comment from a couple of people recently, and it really bugs me.

"Why?" I ask.

"Because I hear he's a hothead? Do we want someone like that with his finger on the nuclear button?"

Please. McCain will tell you himself that he has a temper; he's even committed it to print in at least one of his books.

But how do you get from shouting an occasional epithet in a Senate anteroom to nuking a country in a fit of anger? It's absurd.

In fact, I can make a case that John McCain is one of the most forgiving people on the planet.

It is commonly accepted that McCain was abused, as were so many others, during his 5+ year ordeal as a POW in North Vietnam. (How many people have endured more than 5 years of anything as unpleasant? No marriage jokes allowed.) But McCain has been in the lead in normalizing relations between Viet Nam and the USA. The memories are still there, but he rises above them.

In 2000, McCain and his family were the target of some vicious and personal smears by pro-Bush forces during the primary campaign. After the election, McCain was able to support Bush when he found it appropriate. (I ask you to set aside the not-unreasonable question as to whether McCain should have supported Bush in those circumstances; the point here is that McCain was able to overcome his personal anger when the situation warranted.)

The bottom line: John McCain is the most tested candidate for president than we've seen for years, comparing favorably to JFK's and DDE's war experiences and exceeding everybody else since then. I can think of very few people I would trust more in a stressful situation.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The abridged version

Jeff Jacoby sums it up in today's Boston Globe.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dissecting the financial crisis

This video provides an almost too-quick narrative of the path to the current financial crisis. I suspect many will be turned off by the production values or the obvious perspective of the creator, but the pattern of facts is hard to ignore.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It may not be the economy, but it's a mess; whose mess?!?

The depths to which some will go

This is just sick.

From my reading of history, there is maybe one truth in this garbage: the North Vietnamese did refer to McCain as "The Prince" because his father was CINCPAC (Commander-in-Chief Pacific), and maybe even sought to leverage that status. But beyond one (contrived) "confession" that McCain acknowledges and regrets, the assertion than he cooperated is ludicrous, insulting, and, ultimately, reflects on the credibility of Rhodes and rest of Air America.

Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs

I ask you to read this letter, multiply-derefenced through Curt Schilling's blog.

To some, it's going to sound like a lecture from Jack Nicholson's character in "A Few Good Men." But the Real People who take on the role of the sheepdog are much more human than the caricature in that movie.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


For those who don't remember, "Pravda" ("The Truth") was the official newspaper of the Soviet Communist Party during the Cold War, and the great irony was that it frequently published flagrant distortions of fact.

Today, we were treated to a news item that Russia considers events in South Ossetia in August were somehow equivalent to 9/11:

"The world has changed and it occurred to me that August 8 2008 has become for Russia as September 11 2001 for the United States. This is an accurate comparison corresponding to Russian realities.
"Humankind has drawn lessons from September 11 tragedy and other tragic events. I would like the world to draw lessons also from these events [in South Ossetia]."

I am probably uninformed about what was happening in South Ossetia in early August, but I have some idea, and I am at a loss to understand how it somehow compares to the attempted (and somewhat successful) simultaneous attack on the economic, military, and political nerve centers of the USA in September of 2001. It strikes me as an incredibly shallow attempt to establish "moral equivalency" to the response of the 9/11 attacks, and it's all the more disturbing that the "free press" in the West is not challenging it.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Dissecting a media attack on Sarah Palin

Howard Kurtz, "reporting" on Charlie Gibson's "gotcha" on Sarah Palin in his interview on "20/20":

GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God." Are we fighting a holy war?

PALIN: You know, I don't know if that was my exact quote.

GIBSON: Exact words.

PALIN: But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln's words when he said -- first, he suggested never presume to know what God's will is, and I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words.

On Fox, Newt Gingrich called this "a sad commentary on the growing anti-religious hostility of the news media." I would call it asking the governor about her own words.

Glenn Beck, who I'm normally not inclined to quote, addressed this canard before the interview:

There has been some hard-core journalistic malpractice on this one. The Associated Press ran this headline about a speech she gave at her church: "Palin: Iraq war 'a task that is from God'"

In the story, they omit the first part of the sentence they're quoting along with the entire previous sentence for good measure.

Here are her actual words: "Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right. Also, for this country, that our leaders, our national leaders, are sending them out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan."

Palin is clearly praying that we're doing the right thing in Iraq, something sensible for an introspective woman of faith concerned about the lives of our troops to do. She's not saying that she just received a text message from heaven's BlackBerry ordering her to launch missiles. Sorry to disappoint you.

And for those of you who think politicians asking God for guidance is offensive, might I remind you of this famous politician's prayer:

"Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will." --Barack Obama

Indeed, Lincoln is reported to have said:

"Some time in the early part of the war a clergy man said in his presence that he "hoped the Lord was on our side.' "I am not at all concerned about that," replied Mr. Lincoln. 'For I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right, but it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side.' "

To me, it's clear that Palin was channeling Lincoln's hope, not making an arrogant assertion. And Gibson's quote within his question was flagrantly out of context.

A final note: several sources have noted that Palin was at a disadvantage in an interview that could be (and was) aggressively edited by the network that aired it.

This needs to be seen

I'm linking to Curt Schilling's blog, because he deserves the credit for calling attention to it:

Please take a minute.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Experience & Expectations

[I've lost about 5 posts to issues between MarsEdit and Blogger; hopefully they're fixed.]

1) Many Obama supporters are screaming about Sarah Palin's supposed insufficient experience to be President, ranging from outraged to snarky to childish. (Matt Damon, not that I take him seriously, even postulated Palin as President.) Do they really want to have a conversation about the relative experience of the candidates? Especially comparing a proposed President-in-waiting to a proposed President-to-be? It appears that they don't, but it's going to happen if they keep challenging Palin's experience.

2) Likewise, they are screaming that Palin must submit to press interviews immediately, clearly because they expect her to fail the test. In doing so, they are lowering expectations, and a merely competent performance by Palin will seem like a brilliant success.