Monthly Archives: January 2008

Five Letters from Bin Laden

Found, in Pakistan, five letters from Bin Laden. That’s basically what the article says, with a few unimportant details thrown in.

Update: Continue reading

The New Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail

In the middle of an article on the slow grinding to a halt that was the Fred Thompson campaign, Andrew Ferguson immerses the reader in the modern version of fear and loathing on the campaign trail.

It’s not pleasant to think of the life they lead, these Americans who would be president, from the first hints of dawn to well past midnight, this life of endless demands, this succession of superficial sociability, in which you smile and smile and pop your eyes wide open in delighted wonder at the ever-shifting kaleidoscope of faces and places that circles before you, and you haven’t the time or leisure to settle on a single one. Charming countryside, pretty little towns, sprawling centers of commerce and industry fly by and you haven’t a moment to enjoy them or learn their tales. You rush to meet hundreds of people a day and never have a meaningful exchange of words with any of them.

From the backseats of freezing cars and vans you’re hustled into overheated coffee shops and those packed school gymnasiums with the stink rising to the rafters and then the oppressive hush of corporate meeting rooms, where your nose starts to run and a film of sweat forms under your wool pullover, and you press the outstretched hands that carry every bacterial pathogen known to epidemiology. You open your mouth and you release the same cloud of words you recited yesterday and the day before. And in the Q&A, when you stop to listen, you hear the same questions and complaints from yesterday, the same mewling and blame-shifting, all imploring you to do the impossible and through some undefined action make the lives of these unhappy citizens somehow edifying, uplifting, and worth living. And you always promise you will do that; you have no choice but to tell this kind of lie.

There’s no rest, because there’s not a moment to waste: The handful of minutes away from the kaleidoscope are spent chatting with the scorpions of the press, the ill-dressed, ill-mannered reporters from the prints and the pretty, preening peacocks of TV, each of them either a know-it-all or a cynic or a dope, take your pick, and each of whom, for professional and other reasons, will deploy all his energies and cleverness to the task of trapping you into a misstatement or ungenerous remark or expression of irritation so he can convey to his editors and the world that–at last!–you’ve made a gaffe; and if you won’t make a gaffe then he will convey to his editors and the world how “scripted” and “over rehearsed” you sound; kind of slick, almost robotic, inauthentic.

When the scorps are dismissed, in the seconds before you pass from the freezing van to the overheated gym or boardroom, a sycophant whose name you can’t remember hands you a cell phone that connects you to a rich man whose face you dimly recall from another boardroom last summer and you beg him to give you money, or more often–considering the grinding pressure you feel for cash, always for cash–you beg him to assemble a circle of other rich men that he can beg on your behalf, and when you sign off you don’t have time to be grateful. There will be more calls before dinner and after dinner, and dinner is a cold thigh of chicken in a sump of clotted gravy served from a steam table in a freezing cinderblock banquet room at the Lions Club, and a hundred pairs of eyes fix themselves on you–a celebrity, someone they’ve seen on TV–as you dribble the gravy on your shirtfront. And after you release the same words and hear the same complaints you go to bed in a Hampton Suites for five hours of sleep on starchy sheets with dimly visible stains whose origins are impossible to discern, and from the corner the digital display on the microwave flashes 12:00 12:00 12:00 . . .

And you do all this so you can wake up the next morning and do it again. Because you like it.

Imagine liking that. Just for a second, try it. It’s too much for me, through the looking glass and straight into the sky past the second star on the left where troubles smell like lemon drops and way above the chimney tops that’s where you won’t find me.

Not only don’t I want to run for President after that, I don’t want anyone I like to run for President. Maybe this is an argument for John McCain, but if so it’s an odd one.

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Trackposted to guerrilla radio, Right Truth, Shadowscope, Pirate’s Cove, The Pink Flamingo, Cao’s Blog, Leaning Straight Up, The Pet Haven, A Newt One, CORSARI D’ITALIA, Conservative Cat, Adeline and Hazel, Right Voices, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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Go Ralph!

Ralph Nader is thinking of running for president, again. Since Denny K. left the 2008 race the Martians didn’t know who to vote for. Now Ralph may be getting in. The Martians (and the Jovians and Saturnines as well) are happier than you will ever know.

Vote Ralph Nader! Do it for the extraterrestrials among us.

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Trackposted to The Virtuous Republic, A NEWT ONE- PLEASE UNITE NOW!, The Random Yak, third world county, Shadowscope, The Pink Flamingo, Leaning Straight Up, Cao’s Blog, Big Dog’s Weblog, A Newt One, Conservative Cat, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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Even Jimmah Carter favors photo ID to guard against US voter fraud

Who wouldda thunk it?!

Former President Carter stated on March 22, 2006, “Within the next three or four years, all 50 states will move to some kind of voter ID.” Carter, along with former Secretary of State James Baker, recently led the Commission on Federal Election Reform. Among the commission’s recommendations was the requirement of photographic identification at the polls to curb voter fraud.

Related: How to Cheat the Vote

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Trackposted to The Virtuous Republic, A NEWT ONE- PLEASE UNITE NOW!, The Random Yak, third world county, Shadowscope, The Pink Flamingo, Leaning Straight Up, Cao’s Blog, Big Dog’s Weblog, A Newt One, Conservative Cat, and The Yankee Sailor, thanks to Linkfest Haven Deluxe.

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The Oil Parable Open Trackbacks

“Brethren,” said the preacher, “the Lord made the world round like a ball.”

“Amen!” agreed the congregation.

“And the Lord made two axles for the world to go round on, and He put one axle at the North Pole and one axle at the South Pole.”

“Amen!” shouted the congregation.

“And the Lord put a lot of oil in the center of the world to keep the axles well greased.”

“Amen!” cried the congregation.

“And then a lot of sinners dug wells in Pennsylvania and stole the Lord’s grease. And in Kentucky, Texas, Alaska, Mexico, Russia, Araby and Persia, and all through Africa, and pilfered more of the Lord’s grease. And some day they will have all the Lord’s grease, and them axles is gonna get hot. And then that will be hell, brethren, that will be hell!”

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Davy Crockett, modern populist politician

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Read some of Davy Crockett’s advice to them as aspire to politicking.

“Attend all public meetings,” says I, “and get some friends to move that you take the chair- if you fail in this attempt, make a push to be appointed secretary; the proceedings of course will be published, and your name is introduced to the public. But should you fail in both undertakings, get two or three acquaintances, over a bottle of whiskey, to pass some resolutions no matter on what subject; publish them even if you pay the printer- it will answer the purpose of breaking the ice, which is the main point in these matters. Intrigue until you are elected an officer of the militia; this is the second step towards promotion, and can be accomplished with ease, as I know an instance of an election being advertised, and no one attending, the innkeeper at whose house it was to be held, having a military turn, elected himself colonel of his regiment.” Says I, “You may not accornpb your ends with as little difficulty, but do not be discouraged- Rome wasn’t built in a day.

“If your ambition or circumstances compel you to serve your country, and earn three dollars a day, by becoming a member of the legislature you must first publicly avow that the constitution of the state is a shackle upon free and liberal legislation; and is, therefore, of as little use in the present enlightened age, as an old almanac of the year in which the instrument was framed. There is policy in this measure, for by making the constitution a mere dead letter, your headlong proceedings will be attributed to a bold and unshackled mind, whereas, it might otherwise be thought they arose from sheer mulish ignorance. ‘The Government’ has set the example in his attack upon the constitution of the United States, and who should fear to follow where ‘the Government’ leads?

“When the day of election approaches, visit your constituents far and wide. Treat liberally, and drink freely, in order to rise in their estimation though you fall in your own. True, you may be called a drunken dog by some of the clean shirt and silk stocking gentry, but the real rough necks will style you a jovial fellow, their votes are certain, and frequently, count double. Do all you can to appear to advantage in the eyes of the women. That’s easily done- you have but to kiss and slabber their children, wipe their noses, and pat them on the head; this cannot fail to please their mothers, and you may rely on your business being done in that quarter.

“Promise all that is asked,” said I, “and more if you can think of up thing. Offer to build a bridge or a church, to divide a county, create a batch of new offices, make a turnpike, or anything they like. Promises cost nothing, therefore deny nobody who has a vote or sufficient influence to obtain one.

“Get up on all occasions, and sometimes on no occasion at all, and make long-winded speeches, though composed of nothing else than wind- talk of your devotion to your country, your modesty and disinterestedness, or on any such fanciful subject. Rail against taxes of all kinds, office-holders, and bad harvest weather; and wind up with a flourish about the heroes who fought and bled for our liberties in the times that tried men’s souls. To be sure you run the risk of being considered a bladder of wind or an empty barrel, but never mind that, you will find enough of the same fraternity to keep you in countenance.

“If any charity be going forward, be at the top of it, provided it is to be advertised publicly; if not, it isn’t worth your while. None but a fool would place his candle under a bushel on such an occasion.

“These few directions,” said I, “if properly attended to, will do your business; and when once elected, why a fig for the dirty children, the promises, the bridges, the churches, the taxes, the offices, and the subscriptions, for it is absolutely necessary to forget all these before you can become a thorough-going politician, and a patriot of the first water.”

This may or may not have been what Crockett actually said. It was credited to him in a book published in 1860 (also see here and here). What is most remarkable is how Crockett’s rules of guidance, typical of Jacksonian Democrats of the time period, are such bold populism in warp and woof. We tend to think that our own de-generation of politicians is the most populist and pandering batch of thieves ever to make their hideout at the state or national capital. But things have been just as bad in the past. We shall always have Davy Crockett to remind us.

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Oh What a Sign: Clinton or Prosperity?

Pick one.