Berg Speaks:

Some of you will recall we discussed recently Philip Berg's assertion that Sen. Obama is not a US citizen. Elise in particular was fascinated with the assertion, so I thought I'd provide a link to a video involving Berg defending his case.

I think the hard evidence suggests that Berg is a nut, based on his previous lawsuits claiming that the US was behind 9/11, and the attempt to get SCOTUS Justices disbarred for their rulings on Bush v. Gore. That said, here he is speaking for himself: see what you think.



An economist writes on the global situation:

On the real economic side all the advanced economies representing 55% of global GDP (US, Eurozone, UK, other smaller European countries, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Japan) entered a recession even before the massive financial shocks that started in the late summer made the liquidity and credit crunch even more virulent and will thus cause an even more severe recession than the one that started in the spring. So we have a severe recession, a severe financial crisis and a severe banking crisis in advanced economies.

There was no decoupling among advanced economies and there is no decoupling but rather recoupling of the emerging market economies with the severe crisis of the advanced economies. By the third quarter of this year global economic growth will be in negative territory signaling a global recession.
'A severe global recession touching emerging markets' the kind of technical speech that masks hard reality. What this means is that war and famine are coming to much of the world, and with them the rider of the pale horse.

We tend to think mostly in terms of what this means for America, especially this close to an election: our minds are focused on the immediate. America is stronger than most of the nations, though: this is why the dollar is growing steadily through this crisis. The world is burning, and America is the safest place. It is unlikely that war will reach these shores, though not impossible given the political divisions in the nation and the deep distrust that will greet the incoming President, whoever he is.

Allah notes what we can look forward to tomorrow.

These things, dire as they are, take time to fall. You can see them coming, and there is time to prepare. I am in no way a financial advisor, lawyer, or other expert, but it is the experts who brought us to this pass. Here is what I have done: you may do what you like.

1) I moved all of our money into FDIC-insured accounts, both in the military's USAA and in another secure bank. All of it. The FDIC fund is limited, but it is backed by "the full faith and credit of the United States." If that fails, money will be the least of your problems.

Why this is worth doing: The market is losing massive value every day. The experts seem to think you should be buying now, so that you'll be in a better position when the market comes back. In the meanwhile, every dollar you sink into this is worth less tomorrow. That suggests to me: Walk away from whatever you've lost, and rebuild shares when the situation does turn around.

Several people I respect have declared they are doing the opposite, rather than be part of the problem as they see it, which is panic causing these credit shortfalls. I don't agree that panic is the problem; I think there are real, structural problems. Leaving your retirement funds in your 401K may be patriotic, in a sense; but I would have to consider it an act of patriotism, a sacrifice for some common good.

2) I purchased a large quantity of dry goods: dry beans, flour, salt, dry yeast, baking powder and soda, powdered milk, and so forth, plus oil, whiskey (for medicinal use only, of course), and other such goods. The real danger in America is transportation difficulties: so much of our economy is based on 'just in time' deliveries that can be disrupted by even minor variances in the fuel supply. Anyone living in the South knows this right now, because of the gas outages we've had lately. A major finance crisis could cause shortfalls, and most people keep only a few days' supplies on hand at most.

Stock up. Buy a few months' emergency supplies. As insurance goes, it is very cheap, and can prevent disaster. Right now supplies are plentiful and inflation is no problem.

Why this is worth doing: There is a real risk of disruption in fuel and shipping; at the least, you'll be sure of living in comfort through any such shocks. This kind of 'insurance' is cheap, and if all turns up aces, you'll eat the stuff anyway. So there's no risk, no loss, but you are protected from a danger that has potentially severe consequences and a nontrivial chance of happening.

3) I laid in a few hundred extra rounds of ammunition: not just heavy stuff for defense and deer hunting, but bird shot to make it easy to bag squirrels and birds for the pot. I trust it will not be needed except for sport, and I will have a pleasant day at the range some afternoon in the future. Yet if it is needed, it will be needed intensely.

Why this is worth doing: If you live where there is abundant wildlife (and deer populations are at or near record levels), it's another source of food in the case of fuel-caused shocks. In the case of wider chaos, you're prepared; and if the absolute worst happens, and even FDIC insurance is no good, you have a valuable barter item. Unlike the food, there is a small cost (you can't eat it later if everything works out fine, although you can enjoy a fun day shooting). Still, the potential benefit to having adequate ammunition stores easily outweighs that small cost.

4) I'll be leaving on another Iraq adventure much sooner than I wanted. The parallel for readers: if a solid, good paying job you may not really want appears, take it anyway.

Why this is worth doing: We've heard that in a recession or depression, cash is king. Adding to rather than living off your savings will be difficult at this time, but at the end of the collapse, there will be a lot you can buy cheaply: real estate, businesses priced below their value, homes, etc.


The advice I hear the financial experts giving boils down to: buy, buy, buy. Double down on the 401K. Shares are undervalued, so pick up bargains and make a fortune on the rebound. Getting out of the market means you can't make up the value you've already lost.

As the AP notes in passing today, however, that money was never real. I would suggest a different approach to understanding wealth.

Wealth doesn't come from speculation. It comes from work.

If your hard work has left you with money to invest, invest it in your own work. Alternatively, invest it in the business of a man you know, whose work ethic is known to you. Use it to buy land, and put cattle or crops on it -- or hire someone who knows how.

These things have real value that can't just 'go away.' They aren't fairy gold. They're real wealth. Hard work, friendships with men of strong ethics, land, cattle, food: this is what we built the country on to start with.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is right: banks don't make out on this.
Clearly, with current International Monetary Fund estimates of the costs of the 2007-2008 subprime crisis, the banking system seems to have lost more on risk taking (from the failures of quantitative risk management) than every penny banks ever earned taking risks.
I intend to focus on the real fundamentals of the economy. It's hard work and sacrifice that got us where we are, and that is how America will thrive -- if it does -- in the future. There is no substitute.


"I Have Voted":

Since I'll be leaving before the election, I took advantage of Georgia's new 'advance voting' policy. I have some remarks on it.

1) I hate electronic voting. It's easy and convenient, but I don't love the fact that there is really no physical record of how I actually voted.

2) I was reminded again this year of how the real election in Georgia is the primary. Almost all the races consisted of one candidate running unopposed. When I was a boy, the Democratic primary was the real election -- nobody believed he could win as a Republican, so everyone ran as a Democrat, and whoever won the Democratic primary ran unopposed in the election.

Now, that's reversed: the word "Democrat" hardly appears on the general election ballot. The three national elections -- President/VP, Senator, Representative -- had Democratic candidates, but I don't think any of the other races did.

It's odd, for the few of us left who hold to the old ways. There were more Libertarians on the general election ballot than Democrats.

3) I voted for Governor Palin. Oh, and the gentleman she's running with.

Palin Cover

The Palin Cover:

I was off yesterday, but I see that the LA Times attempted to show how Newsweek got its cover picture.

Times reporter Elizabeth Snead writes:

How did Newsweek convince Gov. Sarah Palin to pose with a rifle for its cover?

Simple. It didn't.

Instead, it used an archive (fancy speak for old) stock photo of her taken back in June 2002 and used it for the cover without her knowledge.

However, to the magazine's credit, it did not try to hide the fact that it's a stock photo, even printing circa 2002 on the cover and again referencing the date in editor Jon Meacham's letter entitled "The Palin Problem."

So that makes it OK.

Right? Or maybe not? What do you think?

Hey, is that even the right way to hold a rifle? Can't you shoot your foot off like that?

Just wondering.
Grim's Hall readers will be laughing pretty hard about now.

But don't fail to follow the link and read through the comments. My favorite:
Good catch. That is a 50 caliber automatic street-sweeper cop-killer assault weapon. Not only could she have blown her foot off, she could've killed every human within a 1000 yard radius. Which she would've probably enjoyed, since she loves to kill things. She is terrifying, and I have nightmares about her every night.

Hold me.
Eric Blair would say, "This thread is full of win."


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.