Cheat-Seeking Missles

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday Scan

Saul Alinsky's Playbook

What do you make of a quote like this, from Mike Huckabee?
"Many of us who have been Republicans out of conviction . . . the social conservatives ... were welcomed in the party as long as we sort of kept our place, but Lord help us if we ever stood forward and said we would actually like to lead the party."
As a Christian social conservative, I think it's just not true, since there are a lot of conservative Christians in the GOP in positions of authority. President Bush, for example. At NRO, Mark Levin feels the same way, and has found the right way to put it:
Huckabee continues to use his faith as a weapon against those who question not his faith, but his political populism — much of which he shares with secular progressives. And he is clearly hoping to stir up resentment among Evangelical Christians against the other elements of the conservative movement and Republican Party as a way of encouraging them to vote in the caucuses and primaries. This is a tactic right out of Saul Alinsky's playbook. Of course he wants us to believe the Reagan coalition is dead because he cannot win with it intact. But he cannot win either the nomination or presidency with the narrow focus of his appeal. This is why I find Mike Huckabee's tactics and candidacy so deplorable.
In the primaries, we are not voting for who we want to win our local primary; we are voting for who we think should be our next president. That's why Huckabee is not even on the margins of my consideration for the Cal primary.

As much as I wish Huckabee was the pastor of my church, were he just a pastor, I wouldn't have him as the pastor of my church, given the dishonorable way he's running his campaign. (hat-tip: memeorandum)

France Offers Atoms To Arabs

Give 'em an inch of nuclear technology, M. Sarkozy, and they just might take a mile.

Nicolas Sarkozy might be a Bush ally of sorts -- after all, he's touring the Middle East at the same time W. is -- but he has that cavalier Gallic attitude about selling nuclear technology. If it brings money to France, how bad can it be? Read this from BBC and ponder:
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has begun a Gulf tour, during which he is due to sign an nuclear co-operation deal with the United Arab Emirates.

He has arrived in Saudi Arabia and will go on to Qatar and the UAE over the next three days. All three are seeking to develop civilian nuclear programmes.

Mr Sarkozy has said the Arab world should have the same rights to such programmes as other states.

France has already signed nuclear agreements with Algeria and Libya.

Mr Sarkozy said the sale of such technology could foster trust between the West and the Muslim world.

Or a terrifying thermonuclear nightmare of obliterating consequences. Your choice.

But if that's the way it's going to be, then any nation threated by the thought of Sunni theocracies having nuclear power -- be it bombs or reactors -- should also have it. Ethiopia, the Balkan states, Central African states like Kenya and the Congo Republic.

Fine and dandy. Atoms for all. But just this, Nicolas, mon ami, the first time one of 'em screws with an inspection, the whole program must be withdrawn and their facilities destroyed. No more Irans, no more North Koreas.

All That Glitters

Here's a long list of celebrity contributions to political campaigns. Yes, folks, it's true: Movie stars like Obama best. The contribution edge over Dem runner-up Clinton includes such glitterati as Jennifer Aniston, Tyra Banks, Halle Berry, George Clooney, Larry David, Morgan Freeman, Leonard Nimoy and Brooke Shields.

Almost completely, black entertainers are lined up behind Obama. Starlets overwhelmingly put race ahead of gender ... you don't really think they're poring over the issues with the intensity they pore over scripts, do you? Exceptions (not counting those who contribute to multiple campaigns) are: Quincy Jones (Clinton) and ... oh, that's it; Quincy Jones.

GOP donors? Well, that's pretty easy: Pat Boone (Brownback and Romney), Jerry Bruckheimer (McCain, natch), and Kelsey Grammer, Adam Sandler and Ben Stein, all for Giuliani.

It's not at all curious that the most curious contributor was SNL major domo Lorne Michaels, who gave $4,600 to Dodd and $2,300 to McCain. I'm trying to figure that one out.

Now Be Nice!

Sacramento, like many cities around the country, is facing fiscal hard times: Budget shortfall, huge and costly infrastructure needs and various local controversies that are stymieing the city's vision and future.

So here's what Sacto mayor Heather Fargo said in a State of the Downtown speech:
We each need to change one light bulb to a compact fluorescent because it's good for the environment. Oh, and be sure to walk more and drink tap water to promote a "green Sacramento."
If politicians think Greenie platitudes will fix anything, they should ready themselves for legions of voters who are green around the gills with Greenie platitudes. Or, as SacBee columnist Marcos Breton put it:
There is no political risk in promoting the idea of a "Green Sacramento." It's like saying we should all be nice to each other.
Ouch. Breton is right on here, but way off course here:
When you have a room full of large-scale developers, as Fargo did, why not use your pulpit to educate them on how "green" building materials can be cost-effective too? Why not show them that they can still make their money and build projects that are better for the environment?
The arrogant little pencil-chewing twit! Who knows more about the economics and benefits of green development than builders? They started the movement in the 1970 energy crisis, putting their existing and planned buldings through rigorous energy audits and investing in more energy technologies that would pay for themselves.

Who do you think has saved more energy in the last couple decades, free market building owners who are seeking lower costs, or power-hungry bureaucrats who are seeking to force their view of reality on the world? Of course, a newspaper columnist, so far removed from reality, would wrongly think the latter.

Curses, Foiled Again!

Fars, the Iranian Propaganda Ministry news service, is not a trustworthy news source to put it mildly, so I'll give US fencer Ivan Lee the benefit of the doubt, but hardly a pass, on the comments he made while participating in a fencing competition in Iran recently. According to Fars, here's what Lee said:
"If the Iranian people and government posed a problem (for us), the US fencing team would never take a second trip to Iran," Ivan Lee, who is currently in Iran to attend the 2008 International Fencing Competitions in Iran's Persian Gulf island of Kish, told FNA on Sunday.

"Everyone analyzes issues by using his own mind and logic; we know that all the negative propaganda against Iran is unreal and, thus, we attended Iran's international competitions for a second time," he said.
Feint is the word, Ivan, feint. The Iranians showed you something that wasn't real in order to make you miss what was real. Anyone who thinks for a moment that a repressive, totalitarian regime would let any visit get a brush with reality has had one too many épée hits on the cognitive organ. (Yeah, yeah, everyone knows Lee is a saber fencer, but épée is such a cooler word.)

And Now From The Euro-Libs

It's not enough that some SCOTUS members think it's just fine to cite European Community law in their American legal decisions. Now Euro-Libs are asking for the right to vote in US elections. From an editorial in the Brussels rag De Standard, courtesy of Brussels Journal:

American presidential elections are not “home affairs.” American decisions have repercussions all over the globe. The American mortgage crisis affects banks in Europe. The insatiable American demand for oil makes the Arabian sheiks rich. The American refusal to care for the environment causes the North Pole ice to melt and coastal areas in Asia to flood. A weakened dollar and an immense budget deficit affect the global economy.

Hence, the world should be given the right to vote. Because the current situation is a blatant case of taxation without representation, against which the Americans rebelled in 1776.
Never mind that Brussels would be a Nazi nation were it not for decisions we Americans made as part of our "home affairs" sixty years ago; Europe can do no harm. It does not pollute, it does not have financial woes, it has never seen its currencies falter. Its efforts to impose a multicultural political mindset on the planet, and to spend our way out of the alleged human causes of global warming does not, apparently, also represent taxation without representation.

Did we have a say in any of that foolishness? Not that I recall. (hat-tip: What Bubba Knows)

A Chair By Any Other Name

The must-read read of the day is Armando Iannucci's column in The Guardian on Barack Obama and American politics. By the time you read this, at the beginning of the third paragraph ...
So why does Obama, billed by everyone as a cross between Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln, but without the terrible looks of either, just leave me puzzled? Maybe it's because his is a rhetoric that soars and takes flight, but alights nowhere.
... you'll be hooked.

Iannucci does a lovely spoof on Obama-speak by suggesting that this is how Obama would rhetoric to death a chair:
'This chair can take your weight. This chair can hold your buttocks, 15 inches in the air. This chair, this wooden chair, can support the ass of the white man or the crack of the black man, take the downward pressure of a Jewish girl's behind or the butt of a Buddhist adolescent, it can provide comfort for Muslim buns or Mormon backsides, the withered rump of an unemployed man in Nevada struggling to get his kids through high school and needful of a place to sit and think, the plump can of a single mum in Florida desperately struggling to make ends meet but who can no longer face standing, this chair, made from wood felled from the tallest redwood in Chicago, this chair, if only we believed in it, could sustain America's huddled arse.'
The problem with Obama and all our politicians is that that's enough; one must never bother with the harsh facts of what you're actually going to do about the chair, or be brave enough to say nothing needs to be done by government about the chair; one only has to stir the feeling of "chair" that's in all of us.

I can share two more lovely lines from the essay without giving away too much of your future enjoyment of it:
American politicians take time out from their busy lives to makes speeches that sound empty; British politicians fill the emptiness of their lives with words that make them sound busy.
The chair, by the way, was made in China.
We're All Gonna Die!

And I'll be 40,000,057 years old when it happens, according to this report in Science Daily.

Well, actually, that will be when Smith's Cloud impacts the Milky Way (the pink burst in the image above). Our sun is noted a bit to the right, so I'll probably have a few more years to spend with the grand, grand, grand, grand, grand, grand, grand, grand, grand, grand, grand, grand, grand, grand, grandkids.

Smith's cloud, which if flush with hydrogen (enough to fire up a million suns), is a bit bigger than a puff in the sky: eleven thousand light-years long and 2,500 light-years wide. It's 8,000 light years away and is rushing at us at 150 miles per second (a tad faster than my German V8).

And that's something that's close to us. No wonder SciFi writers have to invent hyperspace and worm holes to get their heroes from here to there.

It's really too bad we won't be around when Smith's Cloud hits, since this is what it'll look like, according to astronomer Felix Lockman:
When it hits, it could set off a tremendous burst of star formation. Many of those stars will be very massive, rushing through their lives quickly and exploding as supernovae. Over a few million years, it'll look like a celestial New Year's celebration, with huge firecrackers going off in that region of the Galaxy.
Shoot. It'll be a real shame to miss that!

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