The Debate:

The moderator and the audience have asked some extraordinarily good, insightful, and deep questions tonight (as well as a couple of duds). The candidates have flatly refused to answer any of them.

Paraphrased based on my memory of the question:

Q: 'What does this $700 billion bailout do for the little guy?'

Nothing at all directly. It may help keep the economy a whole from derailing, which would be good for the little guy as well as the big guys.

Neither candidate wants to say, "It wasn't designed to help the little guy," so we got two dodges. Sadly, this was the least evasive answer of the night.

Q: 'Should health care be a commodity?'

This is a fascinating question, and one I was very sorry that both candidates dodged completely. It's a fundamental issue, and I would like to know what they both think about it. A 'no' answer calls for a European-style system whereby health care is instead considered a right, which we make arrangements as a society to provide for that right to be met. A 'yes' answer is compatible with a market system.

If the answer is yes, as I think it is, it is not only because many people have spent time and money becoming health care providers -- whether doctors, paramedics, nurses, etc. This is an issue, because the government would be seizing their means of making a living if it declared health care a noncommodity: all "commodity" means is that there is something you can buy or sell.

The more important reason, though, is that the market regulates the amount people spend on a commodity. If you take it out of the market, you regulate the supply by law instead. You tell doctors and other health care providers, "You will provide as much as is demanded, and we will pay you what we decide to." So fewer people become doctors, until you have to mandate that, too.

Furthermore, the government's resources become increasingly devoted to health care. Supply is limited by the number of doctors, etc., but demand for health care is essentially unlimited. I could go to the doctor every time I get a cold, or think I might be getting a cold. I could ask for a prescription of Tamiflu just in case. I don't, because of the copay.

If it's my right to receive that health care, then the government has to provide me not with the same level of service I currently get, but a much higher level. Me and everyone else.

Q: 'We all recognize that things are going to be tighter. Prioritize entitlement reform, health care, and energy policy as first, second, and third most important.'

This was an outstanding and direct question from the moderator. McCain flatly dodged it ("I think we can do all three") and Obama followed him. The proverbial tar and feathers should be applied here to both of them.

This is the question that has now been asked in all three debates: 'If you find you won't be able to keep your campaign promises, which ones are you really going to do, and which ones will go by the wayside if things are too tight?' It's a tremendously important issue, and one I'd like to see pushed. McCain came closest to answering it, by reminding people of his spending freeze plan, but that's still not an answer to the particular question (although based on the answer he did give, I'd estimate his priorities as: 1) Entitlement reform, 2) Energy, 3) Health care). Sen. Obama's answer was even less direct, just a recitation of his health care talking points and his energy talking points (which bled into his non-answers to the other questions).

Q: Best question of the night. 'How can we trust either of you, given how badly your parties have both behaved up to now?'

McCain almost answered this one, by pointing people to watchdog agencies that would show he was committed to bipartisanship, whereas his opponent voted with his party every time. True enough, although the real question wasn't about who will work with the other party. If both parties are so bad they cannot be trusted (which seems largely beyond dispute), bipartisanship is not the same virtue as if there are good ideas on both sides (which is less clear).

Instapundit and Brendan Loy spoke to this today:

[I]t's hard to argue with this: "It isn't just that McCain and Obama are flawed candidates; it's that there aren't really any better alternatives. Who would you rather see up there? Hillary Clinton? Mitt Romney? John Edwards? Mike Huckabee? Joe Biden? Sarah Palin? Nancy Pelosi? John Boehner? Harry Reid? Mitch McConnell? George W. Bush? John Kerry? Dick Cheney? Al Gore? Please. Our political class is totally failing us, almost as much as we're failing ourselves."

Yes, the political class isn't attracting the best talent in the nation. It's not even attracting the second-best.

This is the hope people have for Gov. Palin, who at least is a complete newcomer -- real fresh blood. My suspicion is that we'll see a whole lot of incumbents turned out this year, whatever the polls say about it now.

Q: Second best question, from a seventy-something lady: 'Since WWII, Americans haven't been asked to sacrifice anything for the good of the nation, except the blood of our heroic troops. What will you ask?'

Best answers of the night. Sen. McCain actually raises the prospect of cutting social programs and entitlements. Sen. Obama says he'll double the Peace Corps and volunteer programs for the youth. He tries to talk about the civilian expeditionary force concept, but doesn't really know how to phrase it. Pity.

Q: 'What about climate change?'

I can't believe we're still talking about global warming, but apparently we are.

Both candidates reiterate their energy policy talking points.

Most of the night, actually, was talking point hell. For those of us who are following these issues intensely and watching them with people who don't, that is very frustrating ("Obama just said clean coal! Do you know..." "Shh!" "McCain said he voted against the new tanker! Why..." "Shhh!").

The funniest moment of the night was when the moderator, after several warnings, took them both to task for not keeping their answers to the one minute required. Sen. Obama -- having just a few minutes earlier told a questioner that he knew they weren't there to see politicians pointing fingers at each other -- actually stood up and pointed his finger at McCain.

I don't know who won in the mind of the average voter. I am reminded of our discussion of who would be a good VP pick, when Cassandra asserted that one of her standards was, "Who would make a good standard bearer in 2012?" I said then that I didn't see anyone on the slate I'd want to be thinking about in 2012. Gov. Palin is better than I expected, but I hope we'll see a complete turnover between now and then. I'd still believe that our country needs to ask some of those good men who have done so well in Iraq and elsewhere to step up to the task. Sign me up for the Mattis in '12 ticket.
Election "2K H8"?

Those of you who try to keep up with Cassandra saw this fellow earlier today, and Mrs. G. linked to him as well. (Cassandra's post was the same one where she called me an ignorant racist.)

I was amused to read, via Mrs. G., that the Freepers invited him and banned him within 24 hours. That's kind of awesome.

So what did he say to get banned?

BIG BANG recreated!!! That's fantastic!!! Someone recreated a model of the big bang. But hey, you can't have a recreation without an original creation.... if [our] intelligence has brought [us] to a point where [we] can model a big bang recreation, then there must have been an intelligence that gave ignition to the original, and endowed it with life to boot!
I didn't realize creationism was a banning offense at Free Republic. Still, there's two things to say about this that ought to be said.

1) The fact that it requires intelligence to build a model of something does not mean that it required intelligence to create the original. I've seen a carefully-constructed wave pool built to study the movement of sand in tidal regions. That doesn't mean that the ocean was similarly designed. It may have been, or not; we don't know.

2) However, the fellow has a good point. Is it really a "recreation" of the big bang if it doesn't produce a new universe? What if you can make a 'universe,' but it doesn't contain intelligent life?

As Chesterton wrote, people lose the wonder of the thing sometimes.
If trees were tall and grasses short,
As in some crazy tale,
If here and there a sea were blue
Beyond the breaking pale,

If a fixed fire hung in the air
To warm me one day through,
If deep green hair grew on great hills,
I know what I should do.

In dark I lie: dreaming that there
Are great eyes cold or kind,
And twisted streets and silent doors,
And living men behind.

Let storm-clouds come: better an hour
And leave to weep and fight,
Than all the ages I have ruled
The empires of the night.

I think that if they gave me leave
Within the world to stand,
I would be good all through the day
I spent in fairyland.

They should not hear a word from me
Of selfishness or scorn,
If only I could find the door,
If only I were born.

Awe and wonder are too often lost, and this young man has pointed at a place where they are deserved. Our scientists have done a glorious thing! And yet, how very far we remain from knowing even the first things: How? Why?

WV Blog

A West Virginia Blogger:

You might like Deafening Silence, a blog by a lady from West Virginia. I had a pleasant email exchange with her recently, and I think she's the sort of person you'd all like.

Good Ad

A Good Ad:

It seems to me that any effective ad by the McCain team starts the way this one does. The most dangerous question Sen. Obama has ever had to face is, "Who are you?"


Obama & Joyce:

Did you know that Obama was a director of the Joyce Foundation? Not that I needed another reason to be opposed to him, but:

[D]uring his time as director, Joyce Foundation spent millions creating and supporting anti-gun organizations.
The Geek With a .45 mentions Joyce occasionally. His point is that they create and support all these little groups so that, when they all say the same thing, it sounds like there are lots of different people independently coming to the same conclusion. In fact, it's bought and paid for by Joyce -- astroturf, in other words.

la horde sauvage

La Horde Sauvage:

From the Sergio Leone film My Name is Nobody:

You'll hear a tinny version of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" worked into this. This is the French version, Mon nom est Personne.


"How To Speak Southern"

Feddie at Southern Appeal says that he realizes this link is "a little blue," but since he got it from his mother...

"Bless your heart." An ancient Confederate curse, used in cases of extreme censure. Rough translation: "F#*& you, Yankee." Sample usage: "You're supporting Obama? Why, bless your heart."
That is, um... yeah.



Greyhawk takes note of the AP's remarkably evenhanded journalism:

By claiming that Democrat Barack Obama is "palling around with terrorists" and doesn't see the U.S. like other Americans, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin targeted key goals for a faltering campaign.

And though she may have scored a political hit each time, her attack was unsubstantiated and carried a racially tinged subtext that John McCain himself may come to regret.

What would it take to substantiate this in the AP's view?

See also "Founding Brothers" by Stanley Kurtz, which was written out of the archives for the Chicago Annenberg Challenge; and this piece, describing a clear effort by the Obama camp to avoid discussing it.

And then there was the time Obama got a job from Ayers:

So, aside from video archives, documentary evidence from the CAC, and the fact that the Obama camp has gone to great lengths on multiple occasions to try to silence discussion of the subject -- even trying to get people who talk about it prosecuted -- no, there's nothing to this at all.

Oh, and it's racist. Ayers is white, but whatever.

Get Some

Get Some, Governor:

Now this is the Sarah Palin we thought we knew:

Palin told a group of donors at a private airport, "Our opponent ... is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country." She also said, "This is not a man who sees America as you see America and as I see America."
That's sure enough true. It was obvious when he told that little girl that 'America is not what it once was.'

The question never asked: just when was America better than now? The answer to that would tell us quite a bit.

Indian Dancing at Cumming Fair

Honoring Fathers:

We went to the Fair at Cumming, GA, last night. It's mostly like a fair anywhere -- rickety rides, unpleasant carnies, concerts, livestock, etc. However, the folks in Cumming decided to set aside a portion of their fairgrounds for their heritage exhibitions. There are several that treat what life in the small-town South was like before the post-WWII economic boom. There is also a small 'village' at the far end of the fairground that recalls the earliest days of America in the area, when this area was part of the Cherokee nation, and when the Old Federal Road was pushed through the wilderness from Savannah to Knoxville.

There are several Cherokee-style buildings on this place, plus a reproduction of the Tavern that sat on Old Federal Road at the ford of the Chattahoochee river. This was the center of early American life in what was then the wilderness, at a time when white settlers who wanted to live here had to apply to the Cherokees for the right to emigrate to their nation. In those days the deep forests of North Georgia were populated with wildlife that had not learned to be frightened of people: one of the early settlers, the day after she gave birth to a daughter, was attacked by a wildcat when she went to get water from the river. She choked it to death.

This 'village' is employed during the fair by various living history groups. I always enjoy spending time with reenactors or living historians: these are people who make sense to me. The drive to preserve and extend what you love, to let it inform your life and define the future, is something that I understand. One of the groups does traditional Native American dancing, although not of purely Cherokee styles. One was Cherokee, the next Chiricahua Apache (the lodge lionized in our most recent movie club film), the next of another line. The chief spokesman and lead dancer was Commanche, and performed the "men's traditional" dance.

This photo shows the Chiricahua Apache dancer. The building in the background is that replica of the Old Tavern that I mentioned above.

The coup stick carried by the Commanche was the man's own: it measures his and his family's victories. These include especially military service, his own and that of his father, grandfather, and so forth. He remembers them and honors them in his daily life, and in his art, both to inform himself and to teach his children to do likewise. Likewise, the women dancing bore tokens of warriors in their ancestry, and their dances involved bows toward the symbols of their warrior fathers.

That explanation earned quite a round of applause from the crowd. It is something they understood on a deep and personal level.


The Palin - Biden Debate:

Of three focus groups, two said Sen. Biden won, but the third gave Gov. Palin a runaway victory. People listening to her found her intelligent, a regular American, and said 'she sounds like everybody.' She seems to have done that well.

It was clearly a major focus of the debate: I guess the Obama campaign figures that the one thing he can't do is seem like a regular guy, which he just isn't, so that's got to be Biden's job. The problem is, Sen. Biden has been in the Senate for more than three decades. Joe Biden tries to sound normal by naming places: "Scranton," "Katie's Diner." He speaks of "kitchen table issues." Sarah Palin sounds normal by talking about people, doing ordinary things.

It's clear that normal America is a place that Joe Biden visits, but that it is where Sarah Palin lives.

Well, what about the substance?

There were a number of factual errors; Gov. Palin's most obvious was her claim that "millions" of small businesses make more than $250,000 a year. That's correct if and only if you mean that they bring in that much money; once you deduct their operating expenses, advertising costs, salaries, benefits, etc., the figure is far lower.

The bigger mistake here is simply to accept Sen. Obama's tax plan at face value. The fact is that he obviously can't do what he says he'll do: cut taxes for most Americans, increase government spending, establish universal healthcare, bailout the economy, and create a bunch of new programs. Every time anyone points out that this is impossible, Sen. Obama accuses them of 'not being honest' about his plan, which is really to do all those things.

My new economic recovery plan is to give everyone wings out of their shoulders so they can fly to work, thus breaking our dependency on foreign oil; and then mana from heaven to eat, so that their wallet will no longer suffer under rising food costs. Anyone who says I can't is not being honest about my plan. Right.

The debate moderators get this, which is why both of them have asked several times each what new cuts might have to be pondered under 'changing circumstances.' That's a highly legitimate question, and one that the Obama camp in particular has dodged. Gov. Palin dodged it as well tonight, although in a sense fairly: she pointed out that she, personally, hasn't really pledged much, and therefore there's not much of her pledged spending that she'd have to cut.

Sen. McCain alone gave a straightforward and honest answer to that question. It's a question that we should continue to press. If pushed to the wall, what's more important to Sen. Obama? The tax 'cuts,' as Sen. Obama likes to call giving people money over and above what they ever paid in taxes? Or these social programs? What's more important to Sen. McCain? We know: he told us.

Gov. Palin's strongest policy moment, I thought, was this:

Now you said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that's not patriotic. Patriotic is saying, government, you know, you're not always the solution. In fact, too often you're the problem so, government, lessen the tax burden and on our families and get out of the way and let the private sector and our families grow and thrive and prosper. An increased tax formula that Barack Obama is proposing in addition to nearly a trillion dollars in new spending that he's proposing is the backwards way of trying to grow our economy.
That resonates with Americans. It's definitely not the case that we don't pay enough taxes, or that we should pay more to prove how much we love our government. This is a policy statement -- low taxes are the better way to grow out of economic trouble -- but it's deeply tied to a powerful emotion. Policy statements work best when they are. Not: "I believe we need lower taxes," but: "You said we weren't patriotic of we didn't pony up to you, but you're the problem a lot of the time. I say people should keep their money. They'll do better with it than you will."

It also puts the Democratic ticket off balance on patriotism. I don't think it's as effective aimed at Sen. Biden, who is clearly a great American in his way. I would feel not at all uncomfortable with this year's election if he were at the top of the ticket, policy differences aside. Patriotism is a bigger problem for Sen. Obama, because of his pastor (who actually is a bigger patriot than he is -- the Rev. Mr. Wright was a Marine and Navy Corpsman, which in my book means he's earned the right to say whatever he thinks), and his terrorist associate Bill Ayers, his wife's statements, his own statements to a certain little girl, etc.

Biden's strongest moment was this:
You know how Barack Obama -- excuse me, do you know how John McCain pays for his $5,000 tax credit you're going to get, a family will get?

He taxes as income every one of you out there, every one of you listening who has a health care plan through your employer. That's how he raises $3.6 trillion, on your -- taxing your health care benefit to give you a $5,000 plan, which his Web site points out will go straight to the insurance company.

And then you're going to have to replace a $12,000 -- that's the average cost of the plan you get through your employer -- it costs $12,000. You're going to have to pay -- replace a $12,000 plan, because 20 million of you are going to be dropped. Twenty million of you will be dropped.

So you're going to have to place -- replace a $12,000 plan with a $5,000 check you just give to the insurance company. I call that the "Ultimate Bridge to Nowhere."
My question, though: don't most of us pay for the insurance we get through our companies, out of our paychecks? As an independent contractor, I don't: I actually buy my family's health insurance alone on the free market. (The cost is nowhere near $12,000 -- closer to half that -- but maybe 'the average American' has better insurance than I do).

Feel free to sound off with what you think.



This is the most astonishing thing yet: a sitting US Federal District Court Judge has issued an order that accepts an argument that Senator Obama lost his citizenship in 1967, and has ordered him to produce documents proving he reclaimed it according to law.

By tomorrow.

We've all been ignoring the 'birth certificate' issue, but it suddenly exploded.

UPDATE: Or not. Valerie at Winds of Change says it's a draft of the order the plantiff would like to see, not the actual order. So it's still a nonstory (although I would appreciate some commentary from a lawyer or two on the claims re: the possibility of losing one's citizenship, which I find extraordinary).

Cash is King

A King of Infinite Space:

A little history on a remarkable year. In 1873, Winchester produced the Winchester 73, "The Gun That Won The West." Col. Colt produced the Single Action Army revolver, probably one of the two most famous pistols of all (the other also being a Colt). And none of that touched The Real Great Depression.

As the panic deepened, ordinary Americans suffered terribly. A cigar maker named Samuel Gompers who was young in 1873 later recalled that with the panic, "economic organization crumbled with some primeval upheaval." Between 1873 and 1877, as many smaller factories and workshops shuttered their doors, tens of thousands of workers — many former Civil War soldiers — became transients. The terms "tramp" and "bum," both indirect references to former soldiers, became commonplace American terms. Relief rolls exploded in major cities, with 25-percent unemployment (100,000 workers) in New York City alone. Unemployed workers demonstrated in Boston, Chicago, and New York in the winter of 1873-74 demanding public work. In New York's Tompkins Square in 1874, police entered the crowd with clubs and beat up thousands of men and women. The most violent strikes in American history followed the panic, including by the secret labor group known as the Molly Maguires in Pennsylvania's coal fields in 1875, when masked workmen exchanged gunfire with the "Coal and Iron Police," a private force commissioned by the state. A nationwide railroad strike followed in 1877, in which mobs destroyed railway hubs in Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Cumberland, Md.

In Central and Eastern Europe, times were even harder. Many political analysts blamed the crisis on a combination of foreign banks and Jews. Nationalistic political leaders (or agents of the Russian czar) embraced a new, sophisticated brand of anti-Semitism that proved appealing to thousands who had lost their livelihoods in the panic. Anti-Jewish pogroms followed in the 1880s, particularly in Russia and Ukraine. Heartland communities large and small had found a scapegoat: aliens in their own midst.

The echoes of the past in the current problems with residential mortgages trouble me.
'Cash is King,' I have read in several pieces on the potential for an economic downturn. But how wide a kingdom will it rule? That's a thing yet undetermined.



After I returned from Iraq a little over a year ago my wife and I celebrated with a vacation to Mexico.  While I was waiting in the airport I stopped by a book store to pick up something to read on the plane.  The book that caught my eye was Appaloosa by Robert Parker.  It turned out to be a great choice.  I devoured the book in no time flat.  In fact, I enjoyed the book so much that I immediately bought the sequel, Resolution, when it was released.

Consequently, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Appaloosa has been made into a movie and is being released nationwide this Friday.  Early reviews say that the movie follows the book very closely, which is good.

If you like a good western then this movie is a must see.  Western themed movies are an iconic slice of Americana.  Robert Duvall once said that Westerns were America’s unique contribution to film and literature. He said that no ones does Shakespeare like the British and no one does westerns like America.  So, do your patriotic duty and see this movie.