Media Love Affair

Women and Senators First:

So we've seen the story about the idiot bail bondsman from Florida. "Man held in Fla. on charge of threatening Obama," says the story.

But you get down to paragraph six, and he apparently also told a student that he wanted to 'put a bullet in George Bush's head.'

Since when is threatening to assassinate a President not that big a deal? Much, much, less newsworthy than the fact that you also intended to maybe shoot a Senator? Since when is the threat to the Presidential candidate the headline, and the actual sitting President a very minor footnote?

That's the media space of summer 2008. Barack Obama is the news. Nothing else matters.

UPDATE: Heh. Old Bob Owens is on the task. Apparently CNN and CBS4 found the AP story too Bush-focused, and edited him out altogether.



Ouch. This one's kind of good.


A Vision of the Future?

Here's a question I'd like to ask the Obama campaign: was this just a campaign gimmick, or do you intend to push for PSAs like this if elected?

Gas Station TV, which provides video content on gas pumps around the country, decided against running an ad for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama Wednesday saying it’s decided to stay politically neutral. At the same time, however, Obama campaign staffers are telling media they believe the refusal had more to do with the content of the ads — which attacked oil companies for creating high gasoline prices — than for simply staying away from politics.
So, if given the levers of power, would a President Obama push to require such ads? The government has in the past forced people to carry PSAs as a consequence of holding a broadcast license; it could do so in the future as a consequence of having a license to sell gasoline. Or alcohol. Or tobacco.

These aren't normally issued by the Feds, but the Feds can push states to comply with their guidelines because of funding concerns. So the question is: does he intend to follow this up if elected? And as a followup, do I really want to listen to lectures from Sen. Obama while going about my daily business?


A Warning on Science:

Our friend Jeffrey was recently speaking on this very topic, so when I saw that the Chronicle of Higher Education had written about it, I thought it might be a topic of interest to all of us.

In March, Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, testified before the House Committee on Science and Technology about the abject failure of American schools, colleges, and universities to prepare students for advanced study in the sciences.

Well, that's not exactly what he testified. The purpose of his trip to the Hill was to impress on Congress the need for more H-1B visas.
Read it through, and let's discuss.

Dogs on the Furniture??

Dogs on the Furniture???

What kind of house is Cassandra running, anyway? I trust that readers recognize the incivility associated with... hey, what's that noise?

...never mind.

La Quete du Graal

La Quête du Graal:

Here is a short sample of a haunting piece of music by a group called La Nef ("The Ship"). It treats the Grail legend, and the arming of a young knight to wander in search of something beautiful -- though he cannot quite say what.

Le Depart - La Nef

The full version is available here and here.

Do you recognize the song being sung? The lyrics are different, but the tune -- now slow, with polyphony -- is the old drinking song "The Star of the County Down."

But the tune is surely older, and it is no sin to imagine it ancient: for it well might be, fitted to other songs in other times, as is so often the case.


Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Campaign Edition:

So today, Sen. Obama endorsed the California Model as the road to energy independence.

The state of California has implemented such a successful efficiency strategy that while electricity consumption grew 60% in this country over the last three decades, it didn’t grow at all in California. There is no reason we can’t do the same thing all across America.
I was in California last in 2001. As the author points out, "rolling blackouts" was the watchword of the day. And "brownouts." This wasn't a "Model" to emulate, but a failure. As I recall, at the time we were last discussing who was responsible for the failure. Liberals cited deregulation as the cause of the failure (which means that for liberals the "California Model" is one to be avoided by governments in the future, as it was nothing but an abdication of their responsibility to act in the interest of the people); conservatives pointed to the governor (and succeeded in having him recalled over the point).

It's a demonstration of a complete misunderstanding of the facts, which ought to be telling in a man who is running as the smart guy. Sen. McCain may have the IQ, but Sen. Obama has the reputation. I assume Sen. Obama is not intending to "endorse blackouts," as HotAir puts it, but it's plain that he doesn't know what he's talking about. The whole thing was a misery for everyone involved, not a model to emulate.

More, it shows how short the candidate is falling from his rhetoric.

The Obaman New Politics was going to put the South in play. Tell me one more time how endorsing California and Europe as your models is going to win Southern votes? Are you sure Hank done it this way?

The media is doing its best to keep Sen. Obama in the bubble. They sent the son of the great writer James Dickey down South to take the waters:
Dent argues that when Southerners criticize Obama, "They say, 'He's a Muslim, he's a mulatto Muslim, or quadroon Muslim … [only because] they don't want to use the old N word."
"Quadroon"? Seriously?

I have lived in the South most of my life, and I have heard the word "quadroon" exactly three times. The first was in a class on 'the social construction of race' that I took as an undergraduate at Georgia State University, where it was used to explain that places other than the American South had an "escape valve" from "blackness." Whereas in the South there was the "one drop rule," in places like the Dominican Republic a family could move from black to white through a series of carefully-calibrated marriages. Americans, the professor explained, had a notion that this was much more racist than our system, because it tracked how "black" you were to a sixteenth percentage, and took serious stock of who your grandfathers and even great-grandparents had been; but islanders thought we were the racists, because we offered no escape.

The second time I heard the word it was from a fellow student at the university, who was making a satirical point. The third time was yesterday, when I read the article from the younger Dickey.

The younger Mr. Dickey seems eager to repeat the favor his father -- a man I once met, and whose experience as a night-fighter pilot in the Pacific Theater of WWII I greatly respect -- did for the South. As Deliverance painted the South for a generation of outsiders, so too the Newsweek articles manages to find a host of improbables. A guy who sells evil bumperstickers and muses about "quadroons." A sheriff with a noose-wielding supporter. A group re-enacting a lynching -- indeed, lynching occupies a remarkable percentage of the article. Given the actual prevalence of lynching -- that is, its close-to-nonexistence in the last forty years -- one might almost say it's what he came to find. If all he found of it was theater, well, we'll just talk about that, then.

He paints the immigrants to the region as fearful, whether Spanish-speaking girls yelling "la migra!" when he approaches, or Hindi-speakers in Savannah who didn't want to talk to him. Certainly there are many immigrants to the South, including Hindi-speakers: when I lived in Savannah, some of our neighbors included a family like this, headed by a kind-hearted grandfather that language proved no barrier to befriending. I can attest that Dairy Queens throughout Georgia are largely run by a family of Indians, including the one not too far from here: but I never heard of them suffering anything but wealth from their chosen occupation.

"Obama's going to win," the article closes. "And if he does not?" Well, if he does not, it may be because you came to the task with such an odd view of what it entailed. You can't sway people you can't even imagine.


In Todays News: The Knights Templar. Really.

Here's something I didn't expect to see when I got up today: Knights Templar sue Pope.

The Association of the Sovereign Order of the Temple of Christ, whose members claim to be descended from the legendary crusaders, have filed a lawsuit against Benedict XVI calling for him to recognise the seizure of assets worth 100 billion euros (£79 billion).
Ok... one thing I think I know about the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon is that they were under a vow of chastity. I realize that not every priest, even of the church militant, kept his vows with absolute faithfulness. Neverthless, is it really possible that there is a whole "association" of people in Spain who, seven hundred years after the Order was dissolved, can show that they are "descended" from knights of this Crusader order? Would a modern court really accept their standing to sue, on a seven-hundred year old question?

I'm guessing, since Google shows nothing about this before today's story, that the association has a different name in Europe -- in Spanish? Latin? If anyone knows more about the question, and can point me in the direction of better information, I must admit to being deeply intrigued by the subject.
Now this is fun:

Introducing over 175 Movie Posters of Classic War Films that are Outstanding Reproductions in Original Colors.


Update: link fixed. (I think. Works for me, anyway)
Boyd's Cycle.

Simon over at Classical Values, thinks McCain (or his campaign) is getting inside Obama's (or his campaign's) decision cycle.

Elections are nothing if they are not time competitive. Evidently the "freezing of the opponent" that Alinsky recommends has not worked on McCain. He was not frozen. Once that happened McCain was operating inside Obama's decision loop.

(via Instapundit)


A New Politics:

One that will not involve questions from the voters.

Barack Obama’s campaign made its distaste for free-style debates more or less official yesterday in their letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates. Team Obama only will agree to three debates, which has been the tradition through the last several presidential cycles, and all of them in the standard moderated format. He will not accept McCain’s challenge to meet him in a format where voters can ask the questions...
Team McCain hits back with humor, which they have apparently decided will be the trademark of their campaign.
“We understand it might be beneath a worldwide celebrity of Barack Obama’s magnitude to appear at town hall meetings alongside John McCain and directly answer questions from the American people, but we hope he’ll reconsider.”
We've talked about the disconnect between rhetoric and reality in this campaign before, so this is just another example. Sen. Obama is running on "a new politics," but in fact wants the campaign to run just as previous ones have run. He wants the media to continue to serve as the moderator and filter (no surprise, given that they are strongly allied with him), and to limit debates to the traditional number.

Sen. McCain, whom rhetoric would have as the candidate of Not-Change, not only wants to move to frequent Town Hall debates where the voters can question the candidates directly -- he also has adopted laughter, rather than fear, as his mode. Karl Rove's former employees may be working for him, but it's clear that the tone is being set by the candidate, not the campaign. Indeed, the tonal difference between McCain 2008 and Bush 2000 or 2004 could hardly be greater.

So, which one is the change candidate again? Which one actually changes things? Whether for better (as here and in Iraq) or for worse (as in campaign finance reform), if actual change is what you want, McCain is your man.


Southern Appeal on Prophecy:

Francis Beckwith at Southern Appeal offers some advice to Obama on how to answer the latest McCain ad:

Here are some lines that I thought of on the way home from the gym today:

* I was going to invite Senator McCain to the Transfiguration. Not anymore.

* Ye of little faith.

* Next time he asks for me to heal his melanoma, the answer is “no.”

* I’ll turn water into wine for him, but I draw the line at being his designated driver.

* I’m surprised Senator McCain didn’t say, “I knew Moses; Moses was a friend of mine; Senator Obama, you are no Moses.”

* Ironically, more men named “Jesus” will vote for me than will vote for Senator McCain.

* The people want more jobs and less Job.

* This just shows us that the McCain campaign is a non-prophet organization.
(So, did you know that there were two financial entrepreneurs mentioned in the Bible? The first was Pharaoh's daughter, who went down to the river and pulled a little Prophet from the water...)

Too Far

Too Far:

Eric will be delighted to know that I have found the limit beyond which I will not accept something into my life simply because it has echoes of chivalry and knighthood. You can see that limit right here.

If there is an item in worse taste than a toilet seat featuring the arms of Richard the Lionheart (albeit with the wrong base color), I am not sure what it would be. Nominations are not solicited.

(I've gotten this catalog for several years now, for reasons unknown to me. They have the strangest mixture of really wonderful things, like this; kind of nifty things, like this; and truly horrid things like, well, heraldic toilet seats.)

False Prophets

False Prophets:

We've all seen McCain's newest piece on Obama:

So what about this?

A new video which features popular talk show host Oprah Winfrey denying Jesus as the only way to God has received over 5 million views on several reporting video sites.

The approximately seven-minute video entitled, "The Church of Oprah Exposed," was posted less than a month ago and has claimed the a Top Favorites spot in the News & Politics category of a popular social networking site.
Here is the video:

Skip to 5:50 to where Barack Obama is explictly brought into the matter.

As for the claims Oprah is making, they aren't actually new at all; what she is advocating is nothing but Theosophy, which was also a major interest of the British upper classes in Chesterton's day, and which drew his ire. (There is more to object to theologically, for a Christian, in the teachings of the Rev. Mr. Wright and his mentors, which are also more closely and fairly attached to Sen. Obama.)

McCain clearly intends his ad for humorous effect, but the folks downloading the Oprah video are in earnest. If you follow the link to the site, it is called "," and references another site which appears (based on the content of the ads) to be a Black spiritual site. These things are starting to percolate through the Christian churches in America, and race is no barrier to them. Insofar as they harmonize with the satirical point that McCain is making, the sense of satire may be lost.

The BlackVoices site has a video -- already removed by YouTube, but I watched it this morning -- that explictly makes the connection between Obama and Biblical false prophets. We spoke of that a couple months ago (also here).

I am strongly opposed to Senator Obama's election, for many and what I think are excellent reasons. I have no special love for Oprah. I hope that people will recognize, however, that Oprah is simply the modern version of the 19th century British aristocrat, seeking a faith that eliminates conflict in the Otherworld, so that it harmonizes with her current world. Having wealth and power, comfort and luxury, naturally she wants it to endure forever: and so a faith that promises no conflict through all Eternity is an attractive one.

Who is wrong here? Some will say that Oprah is wrong, and there is a great deal of argument to be had there on theological grounds. Others may say that McCain is wrong, to mock Barack in a way that might be misconstrued (just as they said he was wrong to permit an ad that featured even a glimpse of white women, in case that might be misconstrued). That seems a bit overbearing for me, but I expect it will be said. Others will say that the Christians are wrong, to bring what are essentially non-rational concepts to bear on day to day life; but they are explictly licensed to do this by the First Amendment, which itself only recognizes an inalienable right the Founders attributed to "their Creator." I have said myself that Sen. Obama has only himself to blame, for adopting prophetic language in a country that has a strong faith tradition about such language: it's easy to be understood as a false prophet when you speak as a prophet, but are false as a politician.

It's worth thinking through, though. I don't care for the Senator, and have little love for the Oprah movement either, but I would see everyone treated fairly.

UPDATE: By the way, watch the McCain video, 0:16-0:20. Pay attention to the dancing in the shadowy background. The line, "Can you see the light?" is surely meant to evoke this:

"Jake, are you all right?"

"We're on a Mission From God!"
Trolls among us.

In the late 1980s, Internet users adopted the word “troll” to denote someone who intentionally disrupts online communities. Early trolling was relatively innocuous, taking place inside of small, single-topic Usenet groups. The trolls employed what the M.I.T. professor Judith Donath calls a “pseudo-naïve” tactic, asking stupid questions and seeing who would rise to the bait. The game was to find out who would see through this stereotypical newbie behavior, and who would fall for it. As one guide to trolldom puts it, “If you don’t fall for the joke, you get to be in on it.”

Today the Internet is much more than esoteric discussion forums. It is a mass medium for defining who we are to ourselves and to others. Teenagers groom their MySpace profiles as intensely as their hair; escapists clock 50-hour weeks in virtual worlds, accumulating gold for their online avatars. Anyone seeking work or love can expect to be Googled. As our emotional investment in the Internet has grown, the stakes for trolling — for provoking strangers online — have risen. Trolling has evolved from ironic solo skit to vicious group hunt.

The article is disturbing on several levels.