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Saturday, October 25

Aaron Klein's warnings to McCain and Obama about Hamas

My favorite Middle East correspondent, Aaron Klein, the Jerusalem bureau chief for World Net Daily and a regular John Batchelor Show guest, will be on Fox Cable tomorrow at 12:30 PM Eastern time.

He'll be discussing the exclusive interview he did on John Batchelor's show last Sunday with Hamas political chief Ahmed Yousef. This was the interview in which Yousef praised Joe Biden, invited Obama to Gaza and explained how an Obama/Biden administration would help end his terror group's international isolation. He'll also discuss the ramifications of an Obama administration for the Middle East.

Aaron will also put in an appearance tomorrow on John's show at 9:20 PM Eastern (schedule always subject to change). They'll be discussing Hamas, including an odd remark by Ahmed Yousef that Hamas is in communication with the Bush administration.

Here's the link for the rest of John's show schedule for tomorrow night. The show, airing in New York, Washington, DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco, can be heard online.

Readers who are unfamiliar with Aaron's reporting might want to check out this review by Samuel Scott of Aaron's 2007 book, Schmoozing with Terrorists, which links to an excerpt from the book.

Scott has criticisms of the book: he thinks it would be better without Aaron inserting his political views. But the criticisms only serve to underline Scott's praise for the meat of Schmoozing:
[...] Two parts of Klein’s book were most intriguing. The Palestinian terrorists who are interviewed in Klein’s book state that they are not targeting Israelis simply out of anti-Semitism or opposition to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. The Islamic extremists are reportedly waging one battle there in a worldwide war — from Israel to America to Europe – to establish Islamic supremacy. The Jewish state is simply what happens to be in their way in the Middle East.

In addition, suicide bombers and their recruiters state that they are killing Israeli civilians in that manner not as a result of a demeaning occupation and a lack of conventional military might, but merely because so-called martyrdom is the best way to gain God’s favor in heaven. [...]
It is very important to pay attention to Aaron's reporting, no matter where you are on the political spectrum, because the Islamists are not clowning around.

Both U.S. presidential candidates and their advisors need to realize that the U.S. Department of State under Condoleezza Rice has been dangerously naive in their approach to the Palestinian situation. A little less time listening to the British foreign office and a little more time listening to Aaron Klein would be a big help.

Friday, October 24

John Batchelor Chronicles the Crackup of the Old Orders

The only good thing about John Batchelor broadcasting on the radio only once a week instead of five nights daily: it allows him to snatch enough time to blog. He's making a great contribution to the blogosphere, so I'm going to add his website to my blogroll.

He was a novelist before he was a radio personality so his daily posts, for many weeks now chronicling the financial debacle and how it's intersected with the U.S. presidential campaign, are gems of composition. They're packed with valuable information but also convey in an evocative way the utter eeriness of this era in American history, which began around September 15 with the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the largest in U.S. history.

I'm going to add my two cents to the lively debate in one of his comment sections about whether the financial debacle can be considered a Black Swan event. While it is true that some observers predicted the mortgage and credit market crises, nobody could foresee the U.S. Fed and Treasury response. That was the Black Swan event.

Everyone understands that scared money will flow toward safety. So the only way to avert a global disaster would be an immediate coordinated international response, as I noted many weeks ago and which I assumed would happen.

But the Fed and Treasury dragged their feet on the eerie argument that the differing sizes of economies made a coordinated response unfeasible. Honest to God, French and American and Irish electronic signals are all the same size. EFTs don't take up space on the world map, so money flooded to whatever country quickly threw together the safest banking practices, which exacerbated the banking crisis in other countries, and that set off a domino effect.

Nobody's that stupid, though, and least of all Bernanke and Paulson. So we have to ask the same kind of question I asked about Ukraine's government, in today's first post.

You just don't send a ship loaded with battle tanks and heavy weapons into pirate waters without sending an armed ship to escort it -- not unless you have something serious to hide about the shipment.

In the same manner, when intelligent financial experts talk gibberish in the face of a global markets meltdown, you have to ask what they're hiding.

Check out John's two October 21 entries: Laughing Gunslingers post and his Super Spike; the latter studies another eerie and interrelated situation, which was the huge jump in oil prices.

Visit John's website to pick up the links and photos accompanying these posts from October 23 and 24:
Another "The-Brokers-with-Hands-on-Their-Faces Blog" Day
By John Batchelor on October 23, 2008

Boat Deck of the Titanic

Speaking Sunday 26 with all manner of front-line reporters around the globe who will document that we are in the same existential position as the first-, second- and third-class passengers of the Titanic staring at the steerage mob rushing up from below. Who gets in the too-few lifeboats? What happens in that very black ocean? From Indonesia, Patrick Barta, Wall Street Journal, will report on the South Sea Seaweed Bubble collapse -- no kidding, China used it for toothpaste before the commodities crash -- and from Southern California Michael Corkery, Wall Street Journal, will report on the collapse of the Rancho (Fill-in-the-Blank) Bubble. The strange news is that California house sales are up because of the last year's foreclosures coming on the market.

Then there is Kevin O'Rourke, TestTube.tv, who will detail the TV Studio/Hollywood Movie Bubble collapse, since the same banks that won't lend to each other certainly will not lend to a movie company unless its name is Harry Potter, and even that phenomenon was delayed; and recall last summer how Paramount had to scramble for cash for the new Star Trek?

Bankers in Lifeboats

Also Eric Umansky, ProPublica, will report on how Hank Paulson and his Orcs at Treasury decide which bank collapses and which gets cash to eat another bank, and which little piggy goes wee-wee-wee all the way to the FDIC. When you say, "Women and children first," to bankers, do they bother to put on dresses and wigs or do they just ignore you and take a seat in the lifeboat along with their $10 million exit package?

There will also be reports from my market watchers, Larry Kudlow, CNBC, Aaron Task, Yahoo Finance, Jim McTague, Barron's, in re the possibility, introduced by Charlie Gasparino last week, that Hank Paulson thinks he is Alexander Hamilton reinventing the national bank.

Jim McTague and the gallows humor crew at Barron's have been clear that after the penury of Citi was exposed last fall, and after Bear, Sterns was miniaturized last winter, there was no future, there was just numbing gloominess to be followed by cheerless doubt. Even romance will fade in the fog. If you have a job, it's a recession; if you don't have a job, it's the Great Depression Personalized.

My favorite new site to match the moment is the mordant "The Brokers with Hands on Their Faces Blog." No need to explain the genius of this diary as it records the Crash of '08 (all these pics are from Tuesday 22 October, Dow down 512). This gallery will stand for the century, or until the next Black Swan.

Do we touch our faces when we believe there is no room in the lifeboat, or rather when we believe there might be room in the lifeboat? It is strangely comforting. Like the cheap drugs you can no longer afford in quantity. Waiting for the photos of our major candidates to be caught touching their faces. Does the first candidate to touch his or her face signal the awareness of defeat, or does it signal that he or she has figured out how to get in the boat without wearing a dress? Wait. One of the candidates has a reserved a seat in the lifeboat. Smart. Because who wants to be the captain of this ship?

First Class Passengers Lethargic

Early word for Wed 23 (along with the sell-off in Asian markets, left) arrives with some astonishing numbers in the Wall Street Journal re the richest of the rich and their losses in this sinking ship. Warren Buffet is down $9.6 billion just in Berkshire Hathaway. Oracle's Larry Ellison is down $6.6 billion. Microsoft's Steve Ballmer is down $4.8 billion. Amazon's Jeff Bezos is down $4.2 billion. News Corp's Rupert Murdoch is down $3.9 billion. See them there huddled in Boat #10 portside. Sable collar coats turned up, top hats tied down, good cigarettes, plenty of lap blankets, picnic baskets of breads and cheeses, plenty of wine. Are they also touching their faces?
By John Batchelor on October 24, 2008:
Election Smoke Signals

Early Indicators from the Warpath

Speaking Sunday 26 with Devin Nunes, 21st California (R) re the credit crisis in Tulare County and the San Joaquin Valley and how it is altering the way he campaigns. Young, passionate, farm-boy Devin was a double no vote on the uncooked Hank Paulson stew, and is one of 111 Republican House members who stood up against the their own devious, confused leadership to reject Paulson's folly on Monday 29 September and then again on Friday 3 October. At first Devin didn't know how he would be received in his country, and he was surprised, flattered and stumped that when he attended a parade his first weekend back after the vote, there was spontaneous applause from the voters. Now, three weeks later, the attitudes about the bailout package are hardening.

Back in Washington, my best congressional source tells me today that GOP House members who voted for the bill either both times or the second time are "running in a buzz saw" about the vote. It's a rally killer if you are a surging incumbent or a challenger and you have to defend the bill. That first week, September 29 to October 3, the emails and calls on Capitol Hill against the bill were from ten to one against to one hundred to one against.

No one has forgotten. It does matter to people that since the bailout vote, Hank Paulson has changed the plan at least twice, has claimed extraordinary powers, has turned the whole bill into a blank check that he can spend at will on his cronies, peers, rivals, pen pals, and their acolytes. And it does matter to voters that since the bailout the market is down nearly twenty percent, we are clearly plunging into a deep recession, the banks are no less opaque, no less obtuse, and that there is no evidence of abundant lending, of healthier bank balance sheets, or of any penalty paid by the big bankers for their profligacy and denial and plain old knuckleheadness. Where is the law? All that money vanished, all those properties were turned to trash, and no one cheated?

Those are the questions that House GOP members are reporting from back in their districts, and I will ask Devin (right, shoveling sand on Route 99) what he hears. More telling, there are smoke signals from the House that the double no vote may be transforming the race. The projections are for the GOP to take a beating in the 111th Congress, declining from the present 199 as far as 175 and perhaps as far as 165. Will the 111 double nos signify? And will the eight-eight who voted yes once or twice pay a penalty? There is a very early indicator that the double no is boosting the most vulnerable members in the most purple districts surround by deeply blue states.

No Warpath for McCain

On another trail, the smoke signals for John McCain are more likely burnt out villages and abandoned ranches as he drives by the disillusioned red states. I hear no love, no respect, no yearning from the professional Republicans toward Mr. McCain or his camp. The judgment is that Mr. McCain has botched his relations with his own party to the point that there is some glee at his desperation. The fact that the Obama Biden campaign have out raised and outspent him with astronomical sums is regarded as justice for the disgrace of the 2002 McCain Feingold bill on campaign finance reform. Not just the professional opinion-makers and the professional politicians but also a deal of smart folk who regard Mr. Obama as unqualified and ideologically sneaky also regard Mr. McCain's campaign as inept, empty, stupid, contrived and too often just absent.

The post op is a week away, but right now I can hear the yelling from behind doors. On November 5th it will start in open forums. The best outcome would be for those 111 House GOP members who fought the Paulson Folly to be returned with a boost, and for the young guns in the House to storm the offices of the minority leadership and show it the door. Or as my best Congressional source says, "Throw the bums out."

I don't care about the Senate of either party. Feckless, vain, rude, deaf, slow-footed, inflexible goats, and those are the young senators.

War at sea: piracy and the rise of private navies

This story is so 21st Century in so many ways. The Somali pirates who captured the MV Faina are still in a standoff with the Russian and U.S. navies. Tomorrow it'll be a month that the pirates captured the ship -- the one with 33 battle tanks and large heavy weapons and ammunitions caches aboard.

When last I read the Russians are talking about storming the ship and the pirates are threatening to kill the crew.

Meanwhile, everyone's still trying to understand why Kenya bought those tanks from Ukraine; the gossip is that they were trans-shipping them to southern Sudan although when last I heard they're hotly denying.

I wonder what Lord Avebury and Baroness Cox are up to these days.

The question is why Ukraine's government didn't send a guard ship to accompany a ship loaded with weapons that they knew was sailing into pirate waters. The answer seems to be that they didn't want to draw international attention to the Faina's cargo.

NATO has finally creaked into action. Seven NATO warships are to begin antipiracy operations off the coast of Somalia within the next few days to protect food aid shipments. As of the 23rd, rules of engagement were still being worked out. The catch:
"This is obviously a very, very complicated thing they are trying to do,” the NATO spokesman said. “There are a host of pirates, but they don’t identify themselves with eye patches and hook hands that they are pirates.”
Gee no kidding. Maybe they can do something about the skyrocketing human trafficking in the Gulf of Aden while they're trying to figure out the difference between a pirate and fisherman.

Meanwhile, big business is tired of depending on governments to protect sea traffic from pirate attacks, which are being vastly under-reported because companies fear a big leap in their insurance premiums. Knowing this, the pirates are making out like -- well, bandits. Blackwater's plans to build a private navy are a harbinger of things to come.
Blackwater Floats Private Navy To Fight Pirates
William Pentland 10.23.08
Forbes

[...] More than 70 shipping vessels have been attacked off the coast of Somalia in the past year. Eleven of those ships and 200 crew members are still being held for ransom by rogue Somali pirates.

Foreign navies have begun patrolling the Gulf of Aden to rein in the pirate gangs off the coast of northern Somalia, but they have had only limited success. As a result, ship owners have seen insurance premiums for coverage of passage through the Straits of Aden climb from an average of $900 to $9,000. [...]

It's bad news for shippers, but an opportunity for Blackwater Worldwide, the North Carolina-based private military contractor. Last week, the company announced plans to dispatch the MV MacArthur, a 183-foot vessel with a crew of 14 and a helicopter pad, to the Gulf of Aden to provide escort services for ships in need of security.

"Billions of dollars of goods move through the Gulf of Aden each year," said Bill Matthews, executive vice president of Blackwater Worldwide, in a press release. "We have been contacted by ship owners who say they need our help in making sure those goods get to their destination safely. The McArthur can help us accomplish that."

The mercenary outfit--founded by former Navy SEALs in 1997 and heavily involved in U.S. military efforts in Iraq--has tentative plans to build a small fleet of two or three anti-piracy vessels, each able to carry several dozen armed security personnel, according to reports in Lloyds List Maritime. Although the Blackwater vessels will not be armed, the crew will be. Unlike official military personnel, they may have fewer qualms about using those arms against pirates. [...]

The company will need a State Department license to sell its services to a foreign government or business, said Anne Tyrrell, a Blackwater spokeswoman.

The company's decision to provide maritime security services reflects rising concerns in the maritime industry about sea piracy. The growth of global commerce in the past two decades crowded the oceans with cargo vessels, dry-bulk carriers and supertankers loaded with every good imaginable.

The world currently transports 80% of all international freight by sea. More than 10 million cargo containers are moving across the world's oceans at any given time.

The heavy ocean traffic (and its valuable cargo) spawned a surge in sea piracy and a new breed of pirates, the bloodiest ever seen. More than 2,400 acts of piracy were reported around the world between 2000 and 2006, roughly twice the number reported for the preceding six-year period.

Although pirate attacks have at least tripled during that time period, the actual number of attacks remains unclear. Shipping companies frequently do not report attacks out of concern that it could increase insurance premiums.

And nearly every group or government monitoring sea piracy believes that number is seriously undercounted. The Australian government estimates the actual number of piracy attacks is 2,000% higher. Piracy is estimated to cost between $13 billion and $16 billion every year and could cost substantially more in coming years.

"Piracy is not going away," said Peter Chalk, an international security analyst at the RAND Institute. "In fact, it's getting more serious and more violent; and it's only a matter of time before you need to take it more seriously."

Monday, October 20

Under the weather with flu

I'll check back on Friday; hopefully the bug should be vanquished by then.

Monday, October 13

Note

Three posts up today; there was also news over the weekend about the World Bank that's important; just News Google the Bank to get up to speed on developments. I will be away from the blogosphere until Saturday.

Best regards to all,
Pundita

North Korea: Pundita's Sherlock Holmes Award of the Month goes to Toshimitsu Shigemura

Julian Ryall has reported from Tokyo for the U.K. Daily Telegraph that newly-released photos of Kim Jong-il have only raised suspicions:
"Those photos were more damaging because it is well into autumn in North Korea now and the trees in the background clearly have summer foliage," said Toshimitsu Shigemura, a professor of international relations at Tokyo's Waseda University.

"This just goes to show how very ill he is," he said.
The professor also notes:
"The missiles that North Korea fired last week were into the Yellow Sea, instead of into the Sea of Japan. The military was sending a message to China and it is clear that relations between the two are not very good."
The rest of his analysis about North Korea is also well worth the read.

To add my two cents, if North Korea's military had been frightened by the U.S. treatment of Russia into backing away from the first phase of a disarmanent deal as I speculated several days ago, it could be that a rethinking of emerging economic realities caused them to knuckle down again to negotiations with Christopher Hill.

As John Batchelor noted on his show last night, the price of oil has to stay above $90 per barrel for Russia to pay its bills. The figure is surely a rough estimate but it underscores that governments heavily dependent on oil exports are looking at very serious trouble if the price of oil keeps dropping.

In any case I am happy that a deal was worked out to take North Korea off the terror list; I think the hardliners on all sides are wrong to sniff at the deal -- unless they'd like the U.S. to add Pakistan to the terror list to keep things fair.

No one disputes that Pyongyang is playing games about its nuclear weapons program, but the journey of a thousand miles begins with the North Korean society opening up more to the outside world. If a face-saving deal will help this process along, we should go for it. If it turns out we were played again -- what was the alternative to trying?

Why is an element of the global financial crisis beginning to resemble the Donner Party?

Markets were plummeting left and right last week but China's stock market didn't do all that badly, despite the slides in the Asian markets.

Ying Zhao notes smugly in her analysis, Financial Crisis Is Highly Unlikely in China, that "no matter what happens in China, a credit crunch probably won't be a concern."

It does seem that way -- but why, given that China's banks are staggering under a mountain of bad debt? Or least they were staggering; if they've shrugged off the mountain just exactly how and when did they do that?

I have brought up that question before, which brings me to Nicolas Sarkozy's idea of creating a new Bretton Woods. It's a great idea on paper, if you'll pardon the expression. But the reality is that plunk in the middle of the international financial system is the black hole of China's banking system. So how are the Lords of Craps Table going to patch around that problem?

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More on William Ayers' education plan: Ayers-Obama relationship primarily an education issue for voters -- but try telling that to the news media

Last Monday on Fox's Hannity & Colmes show, co-host and Democrat Alan Colmes had a field day with Republican guests who criticized Obama's relationship with William Ayers.

Colmes coshed Kate Obenshein with one simple question: Tell me what radical ideas Obama came up with as the result of his association with Bill Ayers?

Obenshein's retort boiled down to: William Ayers is a radical who wants to radicalize America's schoolchildren. Her explanation of what she meant by radical was very unclear and she was unable to demonstrate how her ideas of Ayers' radicalism impacted Obama's policy ideas.

Colmes then turned to Byron York with the questions, "Can you tell me what things Obama said that reflect Ayers?" and "What do they agree on?"

York was obviously far out of his depth. He replied, "I'm not going to tell what they agree on because they won't talk to us about their relationship."

Whereupon I threw a blanket over my head commenced sucking my thumb.

My frustration had risen month after month as I'd watched journalists, pundits and politicians feel their way around in the dark on the Ayers issue. In September I'd hoped that Stanley Kurtz's writings on the topic would allow a crack of light into the MSM coverage of the Ayers issue. But no, all Kurtz's excellent research did for the game of blind man's bluff was cause the players to grope nearer to the door of knowledge before wandering away.

I suddenly recalled an incident described decades ago by a famous author of children's stories. She was watching a local TV show host ask another famous author of children's stories how he could so wonderfully think from the viewpoint of a child.

The author stumbled around for a moment, which caused the other author to shout at the TV, "Tell him you were once a child yourself!"

The author halted in his stumblings, frowned in concentration, then said to the host, "I was once a child myself, you know."

It's worth a try, I thought, so I shouted at the TV, "You stupid lazy idiots why don't you tell Colmes to Google 'Steve Diamond William Ayers'?"

Nothing happened; the game of blind man's bluff lurched on. Lanny Davis, a centrist Democrat who has more reasons to hate William Ayers than Sean Hannity ever will, tried to put a stop to the bloodbath. He said that Obama's associations were not the point as far as voters were concerned and that McCain had to focus on the economy.

Davis, a veteran of America's anti-war and civil rights movements in the 1960s, believes that Ayers and his Weatherman group did more to set back the movements than any other factor -- a belief shared by many. Yet Davis also believes that an attempt to discredit Obama because he associated with a former terrorist is a lost cause. This tack completely ignores Ayers' education ideas and Obama's involvement with them.

Sean Hannity was not moved by Lanny's argument; he returned to the charge he has led for many months, which is that Ayers' time as a terrorist, and his lack of repentance about his terrorist activities, should make association with him off limits for any American politician, and that Obama did associate with him reveals bad judgment.

It is a charge that the McCain campaign had picked up on in recent days, which unleashed criticism from both the left and right that he's making a desperation move by focusing on Obama's questionable associations. As one observer put it: Americans recognize that politics, by its very nature, means skeletons in a politician's closet; while voters do consider the character issue they are more concerned about a presidential candidate's policies once in the White House.

Barack Obama and his many friends in the U.S. media have done their best to push that viewpoint. They've carefully promoted the idea that Obama's association with William Ayers is a merely a "guilt by association" issue that is not significant to the vital issues of the 2008 presidential election. Yet that idea is red herring. Ayers' education ideas and plan for American public schools are vital for the public to understand at this juncture.

It's occurred to me that attempting mind control through the medium of a TV set might work better if you:

(a) Don't shout instructions with a blanket over your head
(b) Refrain from insults
(c) Shout at a guest on a live show rather than a taped one

But I've going to give Fox, CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS another chance to get the story straight before election day arrives.(MSNBC, otherwise known as Obama Cable Channel, is beyond hope.)

It so happens that on October 6, the same day as the Hannity & Colmes bloodbath, Steve Diamond finally got down on his tummy and drew little stick figures; this to explain in the simplest English possible to the dizzy New York Times editorial board exactly what Ayers' education plan is about, and how Barack Obama is connected with it.

It doesn't get clearer and simpler than the way Diamond put it; he even provided bullet points.

For readers who've never heard of Diamond before now: More than anyone, he has driven the story of the real relationship between Obama and Ayers (and anyone who believes that the MSM are ignorant of his work is misled). Diamond is an American law professor, political scientist, union activist, and a leftist -- and, it is important to note, someone who was born and raised in Chicago and who is very knowledgeable about the Chicago political machine.

So while Mr Obama has easily gotten past the press, he has not gotten past Diamond.

Here is the link to Diamond's October 6, 2008 post, Ayers/Obama Update: The David Blaine Award Goes to The New York Times Magic Act. The post, published at Diamond's Global Labor blog, has the best summary he's provided so far of Ayers' educational theories and how Obama has served to promote them.

The catch is that the summary is presented as part of Diamond's ongoing discussion of how The New York Times has continued to suppress and distort his investigation -- even though three reporters from the paper have interviewed him.

(I note with sarcasm that Diamond watchers know that this state of affairs represents an improvement since May, when the Times ignored his letter to them about his research on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and the work that Ayers and Obama did for it.)

The negligence of the U.S. press in reporting on Ayers' theories and Obama's relationship with them is a story unto itself; it's perhaps the strongest indictment to date of the present state of American journalism. But if you want to go straight to the summary scroll down to the 14th paragraph of the October 6 report:
So what is the evidence of the influence of Ayers' world view on Obama and his presidential candidacy?
And read from there.

If you want to delve further into the story, you can start where Diamond began: with his April 22, 2008 post, Who "Sent" Obama? and read forward from there. Not all his posts since that time are about the Ayers-Obama relationship and related matters but the majority are.

If you get stuck at the discussion in the summary about reparations on account of refusing to believe your eyes, Diamond's May 24, 2008 post Apparently Obama does, indeed, support reparations will assure you that you read right the first time.

The posts at Global Labor are the very best background on all the issues touching upon the Ayers-Obama relationship. As far as I know only one other person, Sol Stern, is both knowledgeable enough to discuss Ayers' ideas in authoritative fashion and willing to speak up very frankly in public about them.

For more on Stern and links to his writings on the Ayers topic, see my May 20, 2008 post, The William Ayers plan to turn America's schoolchildren into Maoists and how Barack Obama helped him.

Stanley Kurtz, the Conservative commentator who studied Diamond's research and undertook his own on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and the Obama-Ayers relationship, provided a helpful introduction in a September 23, 2008 report for the Wall Street Journal. Yet Kurtz (who holds a PhD from Harvard in social anthropology) started his journey of discovery from outside the teaching profession and without a thorough background in the education ideas promoted by Ayer's and his colleagues.

One glance through Diamond's summary tells that Kurtz is still on a learning curve. He is not alone. The news media are so far behind Diamond that at this rate it will be 2015 before they catch up. The same could be said for John McCain's researchers.

Barack Obama has banked on this great Cloud of Unknowing. And yet a reading of Diamond's latest summary reveals that this is not rocket science he's talking about; it's just that for years the mainstream media have avoided examining the education topics that Diamond and Stern discuss.

Given Dr Diamond's October 6 summary, readers might ask whether I have considered changing "Maoist" to "neo-Stalinist" in the title I cited above. The answer is no.

I will let political scientists such as Diamond parse the differences between neo-Stalinism and Maoism and argue whether Ayers' political views are actually "leftist." In the end what does it matter if you refer to a death camp by a number, or name it the 'Bluebird School of Reeducation?' Stalinists, Maoists, Fidelistas, etc. -- they all boil down to a military-backed gang of thugs.

And my view is that William Ayers and Barack Obama are not ideologues of any stripe; I see them as totalitarians behind their word screens. They want unquestioning obedience to their commands; they want everyone to think and act in unison to obey, and they know this can only be achieved through indoctrinating children.

Any doubts I had that Obama is a totalitarian were resolved a few days ago when I studied the “Positive Behavior for Effective Schools Act,” otherwise known as education bill S.2111, which was introduced by Obama.

The bill has not passed, as yet, but the wording is a clear indication that Obama's idea of child education is using the public school system to effect massive state intervention in every area of a child's life.

As to what exactly Obama means by "positive behavior" -- the bill does not spell it out. But study Steve Diamond's writings, and Sol Stern's, if you want to see behind Obama's screen of words about making American public school graduates better candidates for higher education and leveling the playing field for the nation's poorest children.

For Diamond's latest post on the Ayers-Obama education issue, see here.

With regard to the issue of Obama's judgment about Ayers, see The Daily Beast (H/T Global Labor) for a roundup of articles on topic, including a Diamond post on the brain dead reporting from The New York Times' on Ayers.

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Sunday, October 12

De fox now in charge of de chicken coop. Me moving to Mongolia.

"920P: James Polti, Financial Times, re the 35 year-old Goldman [Sachs] protégé at Treasury now in charge of spending $700 billion for Hank Paulson, Kashkari."

Why don't they stop clowning around and just get some of those Somali pirates to oversee the $700 billion? This way it's done in one fell swoop; put us all out of our misery in a matter of days, rather than having to dribble things out over a couple years.

The notification is for Polti's discussion on John Batchelor's show for tonight. See The Real Barack Obama for the rest of the schedule (his new website is still under construction) and links to the online streaming for the show.

Friday, October 10

Breaking News: MACLEAN'S MAGAZINE WINS 'HATE SPEECH' HUMAN RIGHTS CHALLENGE IN BRITISH COLUMBIA (Updated 3X)

(There will be updates to this post as comments from Canadian bloggers roll in about the B.C. ruling. I'll keep a running tab of the number of updates in this post's title.)

The implications of the Maclean's B.C. ruling can hardly be overstated with regard to the pending federal decision on Marc Lemire's constitutional challenge to Section 13. Is the B.C. ruling a feint in the face of Parliament's attention to the Section 13 issue? The cynics among us would say yes, but for now we celebrate the victory in British Columbia:
Joseph Brean, National Post
Friday, October 10, 2008

The British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal ruled today that a controversial article about Islam in Maclean's magazine did not violate the province's hate speech law.

In acquitting the magazine, the Tribunal ruled that the article, an excerpt from Mark Steyn's book America Alone in which he describes the demographic and ideological dangers posed by a growing Muslim population in the West, was not likely to expose Muslims to hatred or contempt.

The Canadian Islamic Congress, which brought the complaint, has previously failed in two other jurisdictions: Ontario, which said it did not have jurisdiction over printed material, and federally, where the complaint was rejected as without merit.

More to come.
Thanks, Dave, for letting me know so quickly.

******************************
3:45
Denyse O'Leary, a Toronto-based journalist and blogger has posted not only her comments but also also Mark Steyn's (note he'll be on Rob Breakenridge's show this evening to discuss the verdict) and a press release from the publishers of Kathy Shaidle and Pete Vere's The Tyranny of Nice -- the most important book on the free speech issue to date. The link is to a Western Standard excerpt from the book.

When the Maclean's hearing began in B.C. I observed something to the effect that what happened in the hearing room would help decide the course of Western civilization. The remark must have seemed laughable to people who were unfamiliar with the issues. If they've read The Tyranny of Nice I doubt they're laughing now:
Intellectual freedom in Canada: Mark Steyn, Maclean's acquitted

From Mark's blog:

"CANADA vs FREE SPEECHFREE AT LAST! (pending appeal)Their Marsupial Majesties at the British Columbia "Human Rights" Tribunal have dismissed El-Mo's complaint against Maclean's and voted unanimously to acquit the hatemongers:

The panel has concluded that the complaints are not justified because the complainants have not established that the Article is likely to expose them to hatred or contempt on the basis of their religion. Therefore, pursuant to s. 37(1) the complaints are dismissed.

We'll post the full ruling as soon as we can (the piece of wet string holding together New Hampshire's Third World Internet service fell down down during the night so we have a few technical problems). I'll be discussing the verdict later today after 6.30pm Mountain Time with Rob Breakenridge on 770 CHQR Calgary.

This is good news, but it is NOT a solution. Canadian journalists and publishers must not be dragged through kangaroo courts - in which civil liberties mean nothing - just because someone is offended by something they wrote.

Essentially all that happened was that they woke up and blinked when they realized that they were no longer trampling mere "little people." They may need to back off for a bit, plan their attack strategy better. That is as much of a victory for civil rights as Canada can manage at this time."

Update EST 3:09 PM: Here's the press release from the publishers of The Tyranny of Nice:

"MARK STEYN NOT GUILTY OF "FLAGRANT ISLAMOPHOBIA," SAYS TRIBUNAL AUTHORS OF NEW BOOK ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONS CALL VERDICT THE EXCEPTION WITHIN A SYSTEM STACKED AGAINST THE ACCUSED

TORONTO (October 10, 2008) -- Today, the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal handed down a not-guilty verdict in the case of Maclean's magazine and its columnist Mark Steyn. The case, prompted by charges of "flagrant Islamophobia" made against Steyn and Maclean's by the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC), focused critical attention on Canada's controversial Human Rights Commissions.

Today, the Tribunal ruled that Mark Steyn and Maclean's did not violate the human rights of the complainants merely by reporting facts and accurately quoting sources.

The Steyn trial, along with other lesser known but equally troubling cases, are chronicled in the new book The Tyranny of Nice: How Canada crushes freedom in the name of human rights, written by Kathy Shaidle and Pete Vere. Authors Kathy Shaidle and Pete Vere commented today on the verdict in the Steyn & Maclean's case:

"Unfortunately, this decision is only a partial victory for Mark Steyn, Maclean's magazine and every other writer and publisher in Canada. This Kafkaesque trial cost taxpayers dearly, while many Canadians struggle to make ends meet.

"More importantly, it cost Canada its international reputation as a free, just and tolerant country. While Steyn and Maclean's won, most defendants are found guilty; the HRCs boast of a nearly 100% rate of conviction. We can only hope that this case and all the others chronicled in our book will help make the continued existence of Canada's out of control, draconian Human Rights Commissions an issue in the coming federal election.

"If elected Prime Minister, what will Stephen Harper, Stephane Dion, Jack Layton or Elizabeth May do to rein in the powers of human rights commissions and protect freedom of speech and freedom of the press?"

CONTACT:
Kathy Shaidle (co-author): kshaidle@rogers.com
Pete Vere (co-author): petevere@msn.com

****************************
4:25 PM ET
Journalist and blogger Deborah Gyapong weighs in and says a mouthful:
I haven't read the whole decision yet, only a few pages. But what struck me is how slippery and pompously legal-sounding it all is with all the "high-minded" talk about balancing rights.

It is strange how the right to be equal before the law has morphed in the looking-glass, Kafkaesque "human rights" world into equality rights that trump other all other rights. And it no longer means equal before the law and impartiality and innocent until proven guilty and all that good stuff but quotas and rights for special interest groups and the right to discriminate against Christian belief and practice and in the case of Steyn, fact-based opinion writing. That should give every columnist in the country a bad case of the libel chill flu.

Of course, if Mark Steyn were not Mark Steyn but some low profile Christian polemicist and Maclean's Magazine were not Canada's highest profile news magazine but some tiny circulation special interest publication or blog, I bet the verdict would have been different. The BCHRT, like the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) is picking its battles. It wants to survive.

It was also interesting that the BCHRT did recognize that freedom of expression is a Charter value, but stressed that the right to be free of discrimination is also not only in the Charter but in the Code. Like that gives it more weight or something. This is the balancing act and the Code gives more weight to the freedom from discimination thing, but, hey, we'll be magnanimous.

Gag me. Are we going to start hearing the Code spoken of with the same reverence in Canada as the Charter?

The Code is anti-Charter, unless the equality provision has, through legal sleight of hand, become the trump card for every other right through judicial interpretation. I don't think that's what the framers intended. And it certainly is not in our civil rights inheritance that preceded the Charter. [...]

********************************
October 13 UPDATE

There are so many posts as a result of the ruling that I'm going to cheat and post a list of commentators I cribbed from Binky's Free Mark Steyn! site. Visit his site for the links to the following sites:

Still Even More Post-Trial Links

P2BC: Maclean’s and Mark Steyn: off of the fascist BC “human rights” commission kangaroo court hook
Paul Tuns– Mark Steyn & Maclean’s ‘not guilty’
NROTC– Re: Complaint against Steyn dismissed
Pete Vere on Steyn verdict: both sides got screwed. Shaidle: My PajamasMedia piece on the Mark Steyn verdict
Memo to FAIR: Steyn not guilty of “Islamophobia” — but free speech still in jeopardy
Ed Driscoll– Steyn Survives The Tyranny Of Nice
OVERLAWYERED– Update: B.C. tribunal dismisses Mark Steyn case
HUGH HEWITT: Victory for Mark Steyn
INSTAPUNDIT: “Canada has done more than most to give “human rights” a bad name. Surely freedom from assault by bureaucratic pecksniffs is a human right of the first order”
Mark Steyn wins against sock puppets and perversion of ‘human rights’ » Winds Of Jihad
Mark Steyn Victorious… But Don’t Celebrate Yet
Mark Hemmingway on Steyn
The Macleans complaint has come to a conclusion
Mark Steyn’s first interview after his “aquittal” for “hate speech”; (Audio) Mark Steyn on Maclean’s BC Human Rights Tribunal dismissal
FREAKISH CATFUR has lost more linkeries
StoogeLeft: Three Great Things About the Dismissal of the Mark Steyn HRC Complaint

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“I sympathize with the Canadian Islamic Congress, whose mouthpiece feels that, if the British Columbia pseudo-judges had applied the logic of previous decisions, we’d have been found guilty. He’s right: Under the ludicrous British Columbia “Human Rights” Code, we are guilty. Which is why the Canadian Islamic Congress should appeal, and why I offered on the radio an hour ago to chip in a thousand bucks towards their costs.”

~ Mark Steyn ~

Flaming Catbox Links
Via here.

FiveFeetOfFury issues Press Release
Andrew Coyne is blogging on the decision.
Ghost of a Flea
Jay Currie
Rightgirl
Jack of Hearts
Small Dead Animals
National Post, Joseph Brean
Pundita
Denyse O’Leary
Damian Penny
Covenant Zone
Michelle Malkin
Deborah Gyapong
Blogging for a Free World
Free Mark Steyn
Marginalized Action Dinosaur
Western Standard
Metro
Reuters
Hyacinth Girl
LifeSite
BrassBallsRadio
CanadaEast
CTV
CFTK - TV
Scaramouche
Blog of Walker
HotAir
Rob Breakenridge
CBC
Canadian Press
Hopelessly Partisan
Timothy Birdnow
Globe & Mail
Shooting Star
Canadian Magazines
Ace of Spades
Hamilton Madison & Jay
Timeimmortal
Girl in Blue
Ed Driscoll
Oregon Commentator
Weasel Zippers
Pelalusa
Sean Berry
The Corner at NRO
Proud to be Canadian
Victoria Times Colonist
The Star
Whatever
Free Frank Warner
NeoConstant
Jihad Watch
DUC IN ALTUM

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Today’s Links
Mark Steyn talked to Rob Breakinridge
Steyn on the Corner
Kathy Shaidle at Pajamas Media
The Toronto Star, Reuters, the CBC, The National Post, The Vancouver Sun, the CTV
Steyn & Maclean’s Acquitted / System Still Guilty
Scaramouche
N.S. Scott: “BC HRT on Steyn article: We deem it publishable”
Jay Currie I, Jay Currie II
Covenant Zone
Gyapong I, and Gyapong II
the Canadian Arab Federation, and the Canadian Islamic Congress
In Canada, free speech does not exist in any meaningful way
Denyse O’Leary
The Weekly Standard
SockPuppets.com.. nada
Re: The Steyn Verdict
Mark Hemingway
LifeSiteNews
Andrew Bolt
Hot Air
Robert Spencer
Hyacinth Girl
Eowyn
Girl in Blue
More as we find them.. or put them in the comments if you do. Let’s give the HRC people visiting here a clear idea of how big, widespread and serious we all are.

Wednesday, October 8

Signs not good that Kim Jong-il is alive

Today is the anniversary of Kim's inauguration as the ruling party's general secretary. No reports of him showing up for the celebration -- not even the fig leaf announcement (as with the soccer match a few days ago) that he "watched" the festivities.

But was there any celebration today, beyond the firing of two short-range missiles into the Yellow Sea, which Seoul interprets as "routine?"

Such military displays are indeed routine for the celebration, but in light of stalled negotiations regarding nuclear disarmament, an ominous sign that Christopher Hill made no progress during his three days in Pyongyang. He has refused to comment on the talks, beyond saying they were "substantative."

October 9th and 10th are also very important days on North Korea's calendar: the 9th is the anniversary of the "historic" underground nuclear test two years ago, and the 10th is the anniversary of the party's founding. If Kim doesn't show for either celebration, I will have a hard time continuing to swallow Seoul's line that he's recovering from brain surgery.

More ominous news: the length of the September 19 meeting that was hoped to be a sign of defrosting relations since South Korea elected a conservative government in February. The meeting only lasted 90 minutes.

So it seems the North's only intention for agreeing to a meeting was to send a message to Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo that Pyongyang had rejected nuclear disarmament.

Another sign of bad relations between Seoul and Pyongyang comes from the October 6 announcement by a South Korean politician in the ruling Grand National Party. He cited unverified intelligence reports that North Korea has bought weapons worth $65m over the past five years despite severe food shortages. He said the weapons came from China, Russia, Germany, the Slovak Republic and other countries.

Probably true but rather tacky to announce it now unless Seoul is certain that Pyongyang's September announcement of their rejection of nuclear disarmament is not just a negotiation tactic.

(If you're raising an eyebrow about Germany on the list -- oh please; Iran tunneled their nuclear facilities out of reach of conventional bombs with help from German engineers.)

Another sign that Kim is no longer in control: Israel's accusation on October 4 at an IAEA meeting that North Korea has been covertly supplying at least half a dozen Middle East countries with nuclear technology or conventional arms.

North Korea's covert sales in the ME is ancient news but Israel brought it up again the day after Chris Hill returned from his talks in Pyongyang.

From all that, I venture it's time to buckle down to a study of North Korea's succession politics and the best guesses about Kimmy's replacement. This analysis, published October 2, is excerpted from a report by Cheong Seong-Chang, Director, Inter-Korean Relations Studies Program The Sejong Institute in Seongnam near Seoul, Korea.

And lest we've forgotten why all this attention to North Korea is important to the United States, time for a review of Stratfor's grim 2006 analysis, via Counterterrorism Blog, of the situation on the Korean peninsula if war should break out there. Nothing's changed since -- whoops, I forgot that in the interim Washington's Bash Russia crowd decided to restart the Cold War.

Yes, well, so that would mean -- where is Ouija when I need it? I'll just have to wing it. I guess that means we can't count on Russia for any help, seeing's how the Korean peninsula, along with the Middle East and half the Western Hemisphere is not on the world map used by security advisors to McCain and Obama.

Europe takes up most of their world map, with little squiggles for North America, the Middle East, South America, and Asia.

Reminds me of the old New Yorker magazine cover showing a map of the United States from the viewpoint of East Coast liberals: New York takes up most of the map, with a squiggle showing California.

Now that I have that off my chest, here's more bad news from the Korean peninsula, from a UPI Asia report today, which reminds me to add that website, along with Yahoo! Asia and Chosun Ilbo to my blogroll:
Seoul, South Korea — North Korea's missile test has fueled security concerns in South Korea, which is already buffeted by the deepening financial turmoil sweeping through the United States and Europe.
Military officials and analysts are concerned that South Korea’s communist neighbor may conduct a second nuclear test this month, which would sharply damage Seoul's desperate campaign to win much-needed foreign currency liquidity.

Partly due to the news of the North's missile launch, Seoul's main share index fell 5.8 percent to close at a more than 26-month low and the local won currency plunged almost 5 percent to a near 10-year low against the U.S. dollar on Thursday.

North Korea fired two short-range missiles off its west coast on Tuesday afternoon, two days ahead of marking the second anniversary of the country's first-ever nuclear weapons test, South Korean officials said.

The rockets appeared to be KN-02 or Styx missiles, they said. Local media said they are air-to-ship missiles, a weapon the North rarely tests. The missile launch was the first since March when a North Korean naval vessel fired three short-range Styx missiles into the Yellow Sea.

South Korean officials said the missile test seems part of the North's routine military exercises, since it had designated an off-limit zone for vessels in the Yellow Sea before it fired the missiles.

But they also expressed concerns that the missile test could worsen the international standoff over the North's nuclear weapons programs and raise military tensions on the Korean peninsula, which could boost Seoul’s geopolitical risks, hurting consumer and investor sentiment.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Kim Tae-young said he believes North Korea is developing a small, lightweight nuclear warhead that can be carried by its missiles.

"I understand that North Korea is working to develop a small nuclear warhead that can be loaded into a missile," Kim told an annual parliamentary audit on Wednesday. It is still unclear whether the North has already manufactured such a nuclear warhead, he said.

Some analysts warn that the North could launch a second nuclear test or a ballistic missile that could be equipped with a nuclear warhead around Oct. 10, when it marks the founding anniversary of the communist Workers' Party.

The North has a history of conducting missile and nuclear tests on the nation's festive days to praise its autocratic leader Kim Jong Il's "brilliant" leadership and call for national unity and public loyalty to the reclusive leader.

On the eve of the Party's birthday two years ago, the North carried out an underground explosion of a nuclear device, claiming "the successful and safe nuclear test in our country was a historic incident in its 5,000-year-long history and in world politics.”

In 1998, the North test-fired a Taepodong-1 missile with a range of up to 2,500 kilometers over Japan into the Pacific Ocean, days before the country celebrated the founding anniversary of the communist regime. The North also launched a set of missiles in 2006 including a Taepodong-2 missile, which is believed to have a range of up to 6,700 kilometers.

Analysts said this week, which marks three festive days – the anniversary of the nuclear test on Oct. 9, the founding of the ruling party on Oct. 10 and the inauguration of Kim Jong Il as the party's general secretary on Oct. 8 – would be "critical" for the North's nuclear disarmament process.

According to intelligence sources here, the North has recently increased activities near nuclear and missile test sites in an apparent move to repair the sites for further test launches. The signs include smoke seen rising from the nuclear site at Punggye-ri, probably from workers burning clothing and equipment used for the restoration work.

The North is also believed to be repairing its missile test site at Musudan-ri on the northeast coast where its long-range ballistic missiles were fired. In June, it tested a rocket engine that can be used for a long-range ballistic missile at another missile base in Dongchang-ri on the country's west coast.

The moves come after the North kicked out nuclear inspectors and removed IAEA seals and cameras from the Yongbyon nuclear plant last month, in an angry response to Washington's failure to take Pyongyang off its list of terror-sponsoring nations.

Earlier, Pyongyang halted disablement of its nuclear facilities and began restoring its plutonium-producing Yongbyon reactor, which had been shut down a year ago under an aid-for-disarmament deal.

"North Korea's next steps would be the reopening of its plutonium reprocessing plant, another nuclear test and launch of ballistic missiles," said conservative lawmaker Song Young-sun, a former defense analyst.

Michael J. Green, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington who predicted the North's 2006 nuclear test, said he believes the North is preparing for a second nuclear test.

"It is a matter of time for North Korea to conduct a second nuclear test," Michael Green, McCain’s top advisor on Asia policy, told Seoul's largest newspaper, Chosun Ilbo.

Monday, October 6

North Korea: What's a song worth?

Ah. I see they've moved the goal posts:
"The North's hard-line military has insisted upon simultaneous nuclear inspections in North and South Korea to ensure what it calls a "nuclear-free Korean peninsula" before it agrees to abandon its nuclear arsenal.

It also demands a military dialogue with the United States to negotiate a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War."
And here I thought they balked because they didn't want to lose face with inspection teams poking around their nuke facilities, and wanted to be removed from the U.S. terror list without first undergoing intrusive inspections.

Meanwhile, we're trying to figure out whether Kimmy is alive or dead. Seoul's North Korea watchers have the answer: Yes, no, maybe.

If Kimmy is dead, then saying he watched a soccer game may be the military's way of trying to keep the lid on foreign government concerns while negotiating hard for more concessions. Or it may be a stall while they work out a new leadership; in that event, the chances for ironing out kinks in the nuke deal seem slim.

The best that Christopher Hill can do is keep at it. A fool's errand? If Kim Jong-il is dead, I'd say yes, unless there is a powerful enough faction in their government to rein in the military's hardliners.

I waited many months before deciding whether there had been a genuine breakthrough in the six party negotiations. Even after the New York Philharmonic's visit to North Korea in February, I said nothing. It was only in May, when I saw Christiane Amanpour's documentary about the visit, that I made up my mind.

Her film taught that in a land with so little, songs have an importance that is hard to imagine in the West. North Koreans have been imprisoned simply for humming a banned South Korean song or singing it inside their home. Songs are part of the government's carefully controlled Cold War revolutionary aura.

In February, Kim Jong-il commanded the elite in his regime to stand for the playing of the U.S. national anthem. And that was it, I thought: in the ancient way of emperors, he demonstrated that his word was enough to change everything.

Although I couldn't guess his reasons I thought by that one gesture he demonstrated he was serious about taking meaningful steps to open up North Korea to the West. By June events seemed to prove out my decision. Then in September everything went haywire.

So now we wait and wonder.

Was Kimmy assassinated by China's government for threatening to normalize relations with the U.S.A.? Did a faction in North Korea's military assassinate him? Were the hardliners concerned over U.S. actions toward Russia? Or did Kim simply suffer a stroke and is he dead, or recovering? Will the hardliners in Tokyo and Seoul do anything to flummox a deal? Or is Pyongyang just running out the clock on the Bush administration?

Oh a pox on all these ruminations! Let's go have a beer in the hermit kingdom and sing some unification songs!

Friday, October 3

Sarah Palin takes command

I didn't watch the vice-presidential debate; not wanting to be distracted by images, I chose to listen. Twenty minutes into the debate, I exclaimed, "Man o' War!"

Sarah Palin had taken charge of the debate, as she had taken charge of John McCain's town hall meetings when she first joined them. She had taken command effortlessly, in an unstudied way, and without being overbearing.

Joe Biden handled himself very well, I thought, but he was a politician sharing the stage with a leader.

As Man o' War was born to race, Sarah Palin was born to lead. Will McCain be able to hold her in check if they take the White House? Between the influence of McCain, her husband and her common sense, I think she'll get through her four years of training okay, although not without chafing at the bit, as is so for a great thoroughbred racer in training.

Being president is not all about leadership, of course; there are many things she needs to learn. But when Sarah's temperament and her actions as a mayor and governor are viewed along with her two national speeches and debate last night, she gives every evidence of being capable of serving as commander-in-chief. Again, she needs training but she's got all the raw material.

I shook off my reverie and clicked open the email with John Batchelor's take on the debate, which I noted he'd posted at 10:30 PM -- moments before the debate actually ended. He'd made up his mind quickly. From his posts over a period of days he'd been in a savage mood because of the shenanigans on Capitol Hill regarding the bailout plan. So I read with great interest:
Palin surprise

The surprise of the evening was that Sarah Palin took control of her facts right out of the box ...
No surprise there; one wouldn't know it from the media's treatment of her but Sarah is an experienced debater:
... and pushed back repeatedly with what she wanted to say, not what the moderator wanted her to say, not what her opponent wanted her to say. ...
Yes; Batchelor had nailed it.
... Sarah Palin pushed harder and harder to keep the conversation to her governorship, what she had done as a governor. She ignored Joe Biden's wonkish legislature talk and stayed with her governorship.

Again and again, Mr. Biden wanted to talk about votes with more of his wonkishness, but Sarah Palain would not get drawn into it. She was a governor tonight, not a senate rat. ...
I broke into a grin. Batchelor was still in a savage mood.
... By the time Joe Biden used the chant "drill, drill, drill," it was clear that Joe Biden was also surprised by Sarah Palin's enthusiasm for the debate. It was also clear that Biden was aiming to bulldoze Sarah Palin with robotics -- repeat, repeat the number of McCain votes for this or that, repeat, repeat Barack Obama will, repeat, repeat, about George Bush. ...

By thirty minutes into the debate, the conversation was about what Sarah Palin would talk about, not what Joe Biden wanted to talk about. ....
Yes.

I had switched off the radio at the debate's end, not wanting to hear the pundits go at it. But after I finished reading John's post I zipped to No Quarter to take in some of their readers' opinions of the debate, then I went to Google News and clicked through a few analyses and reports on the debate.

I was surprised to see an item that the Obama Girl had joined with Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey in mocking Sarah; I also saw that some female pundits were making fun of Sarah's way of talking.

We speak of the glass ceiling for women, and always the blame is cast on men. Ayn Rand said that she would never vote for a female for U.S. president. I don't remember her exact argument, but if I recall she believed that only a male was capable of being an effective commander-in-chief.

I venture she would have changed her mind if she'd seen every episode of Meerkat Manor.

May the spirit of Flower and all the other great female meerkat general-clan leaders of the Kalahari guide and protect Sarah Palin.

That I -- a mighty human -- should have to go hat in hand, as it were, to the animal kingdom with such a prayer, well, I think human history's legions of Obama Girls are as much to thank for that embarrassing state of affairs as human male prejudices.

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This entry is crossposted at The Real Barack Obama.

Thursday, October 2

"The Senate acts as it believes it must, rising to the task of voting with the bankers and bundlers who pay for the Senate."

Conscience: n. Definition: The awareness of a moral or ethical aspect to one's conduct together with the urge to prefer right over wrong.

I object to John Batchelor's use of the word "conscience" to describe the thinking processes of a bunch of rascals, even though I understand he invoked the word as a stab at being sarcastic, as he did with his use of the word "heroes." (His meaning would be crystal clear if he were delivering the lines on his radio show instead of placing them on the uninflected page.)

Other than that, I don't find anything to disagree with in his latest observations about the machinations in the Senate to pass the bailout package.

By John Batchelor, posted on October 02, 2008 at 12:45 AM
Conscience of the Senate

The Senate Obeys the Wall Street Interests
From the easy, overwhelming roll call approval of the Paulson bailout plan, now called the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, it is impossible to imagine what the fuss is all about. How could something as acceptable, even embraced at 74 to 25, by the partisan-rich Senate have suffered defeat in the House just two days ago?

Is there something in here that is an elixir? No.

The Senate understands that this is the same sausage that the House and the American people rejected, and that the American people continue to reject at 30 to 1, or 100 to 1. More, the senators are receiving emails and telephones calls from the voters that are monolithically opposed.

The Senate hears the American people's "No!" And the Senate acts as it believes it must, rising to the task of voting with the bankers and bundlers who pay for the Senate. No one in the Senate much believes the plan is good, or will work, or is anything other than a hacked together package of guesswork and swollen presumptions. The Senate voted not its facts but its conscience.

The Conscience of the Senate
How useful to consider that the next president of the United States is drafted from these 100 heroes. It will be theirs to start the new administration with the burden of this plan. John McCain , Barack Obama, and Joe Biden voted their own future [on Wednesday night].

Does one of them believe the Paulson purchase of bad loans at inflated priced will solve the fact that the banks are undercapitalized and doomed to quarters of fear, cut-throat talk, drift and slow strangulation? No.

The conscience of the Senate. Not because it is the right thing to do, but because it is the right thing to do [Wednesday night] in order to get out of town.

Thursday, the People's House gathers again to represent their constituents as the senators did not. The emails, telephone calls and faxes are still running 100 to 1 against.

What is the right thing to do? What would you do?
From Politico, here's the quick list of the senators who voted NO on bailout/economic rescue.

Senators who voted No

Allard (R)
Barasso (R)
Brownback (R)
Bunning (R)
Cantwell (D)
Cochran (R)
Crapo (R)
DeMint (R)
Dole (R)
Dorgan (D)
Enzi (R)
Feingold (D)
Inhofe (R)
Johnson (D)
Landrieu (D)
Nelson (FL) (D)
Roberts (R)
Sanders (I)
Sessions (R)
Shelby (R)
Stabenow (D)
Tester (D)
Vitter (R)
Wicker (R)
Wyden (D)

Wednesday, October 1

Is the House bailout revolt still on? John Batchelor has latest. Meanwhile -- shock of shocks! -- pork shows up in bailout bill.

By John Batchelor, posted on October 01, 2008 at 6:26 PM
Smoke

House Fight Review

Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who has his bowie knife on his belt, is reported unhappy with the ornament of the AMT fix in the Senate bill, and he leads 13 Blue Dogs in the House who voted "yes" on Monday and are now disgusted with the trickery that is sending a loaded up bill back to the House.

George Soros wrote in opposition to the Hank Paulson plan in the Financial Times, and his voice is determinative to the Progressives in the House, including the CBC, all of whom voted no on Monday.

Republican Brad Sherman of 27th California noted in the Hill that his "no" vote on Monday did not make the sky fall. Republican Chris Shays of 4th Connecticut noted that since his "yes" vote on Monday, his constituents, dominated by the hedgies and bankers, are decidedly running against the plan that has already been defeated.

Then there is the fact that Mrs. Pelosi believes she was humiliated on Monday when she delivered 140 "yes" votes and yet afterward claimed she was only supposed to deliver 125.

Meanwhile, the story goes, John Boehner was supposed to deliver 75 "yes" votes and only delivered 65.

The numbers don't add up. It is all smoke. Capitol Hill smoke. The leased Senate vote tonight, with Harry Reid (right) promising a sideshow of popinjays and presidential candidates, is supposed to pressure the House to revote in the affirmative likely on Friday.

None of this means the deal is done

There are missing pieces in all this. For example, I note that my colleague Larry Kudlow, CNBC, told me distinctly on air Sunday 28 that what was wrong with the Paulson package was that it was too much -- that $700 billion was too much, that Hank Paulson didn't need that much, and that it had been "whittled down to $250 billion" in the legislation to be voted on.

Larry Kudlow is well informed; he was speaking with the confidence of a man who negotiates and confides closely to House leadership -- including Eric Cantor and Roy Blunt -- and to the White House and Treasury, including the weary, needy, unhelpful Hank Paulson.

Larry Kudlow speaks candidly and clearly. What happened to the $250 billion number? Why did the House have to vote on $700 billion? Why is the Senate voting on $700 billion? There is a problem here. A disconnect of a half a trillion dollars? That is more than the smoke, more than the bickering leadership and the assassination teams in the Democratic caucus, more than can be explained right now. There may be deception. Or, to be diplomatic -- there may be miscommunication.
Deception on Capitol Hill? Shocking! Shocking!

And isn't it nice to see that George Soros became the fountainhead of helpfulness once regulators in the USA, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany imposed a ban on short selling? The US ban is set to expire tomorrow night, but bets are that it will be extended for 30 days.

See also the transcript at No Quarter for the Lou Dobbs show on CNN last night. (Lou Dobbs is the only good thing about CNN, according to several, including Pundita.) Dobbs and his Independents represent a key voting bloc, and they still ain't buying what Paulson is selling.

I love this tidbit from one NQ reader:
Comment by doctorate | 2008-10-01 13:27:24

Some of The New Bailout Bill Provisions [via Count Us Out]

The bill started at 3 pages, grew to 106 pages, and is now 451 pages.

Film and Television Productions (Sec. 502)
Wooden Arrows designed for use by children (Sec. 503)
6 page package of earmarks for litigants in the 1989 Exxon Valdez incident, Alaska (Sec. 504)
Virgin Island and Puerto Rican Rum (Section 308)
American Samoa (Sec. 309)
Mine Rescue Teams (Sec. 310)
Mine Safety Equipment (Sec. 311)
Domestic Production Activities in Puerto Rico (Sec. 312)
Indian Tribes (Sec. 314, 315)
Railroads (Sec. 316)
Auto Racing Tracks (317)
District of Columbia (Sec. 322)
Wool Research (Sec. 325)

Financial markets rescue package fiasco: Death comes as the end

I don't know why the memory of Agatha Christie's Death Comes as the End flashed into my mind while I read John Batchelor's latest post. Maybe it's just the title of the murder mystery set in ancient Egypt, somehow fitting; I feel as if I'm looking at the final death throes of America's two major political parties, or the death of the two-party system ....

Senator Drama Queens by John Batchelor, posted on October 01, 2008 at John Batchelor Show website:
The Senate and the Bribe
The grand bargain is that the Senate will vote in favor of the Hank Paulson bailout plan on Wednesday evening. The plan will include some ornaments not in the original House vote, such as an increase of the FDIC limit from $100,000 to $250,000, also some tax perks, and perhaps even a nod to fixing the AMT problem.

The Senate (... the GOP Senate leaders John Kyl, Bob Bennett, Mitch McConnell, Judd Gregg, Lamar Alexander) is delighted to face this bold challenge of rescuing the rich, like drama queens facing an army of fashion week mannequins.

Delighted also because of the 500 point bribe by the traders Tuesday and perhaps another 300 on Wednesday in anticipation of the Senate's appeasing evening vote. Delighted too because those three brothers in melodrama, John McCain, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, aim to make a dash before the cameras to vote for their banking bundlers and consciences, whichever comes first.

How Cynical Are You?
On Thursday at noon, the House will get the Hank Paulson bailout plan ... along with the ornaments added in the Senate, and it will vote it over the top, either Thursday night or Friday morning, after days of badgering by the White House.

John Boehner is reported already in on the scheme to force the vote, displaying leadership quality associated with the late Lehman's.

What is this victory worth? A few hundred points on the market and some headlines, and then -- and then nothing, because the bad loans still exist.

The Paulson bailout plan will be worth even less, because it wouldn't have passed without the bribes of the markets. Members can clear the faux Roman halls and go home and campaign for election while waving the rally and avoiding remarks about the bailout or questions about what price honor?

No one is fooled. How cynical are you?

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