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Saturday, March 22, 2008
 
SLA Member Sarah Jane Olson Back in Chokey

Good to hear that she'll still have to serve a couple more years for her part in the murder of Myrna Opsahl.

Authorities arrested Olson - known as Kathleen Soliah during her SLA days - just before midnight Friday at Los Angeles International Airport. Olson, 61, had spent her brief freedom with relatives in Palmdale. She was minutes away from boarding a plane with her husband to return to family in Minnesota when eight corrections officers stopped her.


Almost brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it. Six years seems quite a long stretch for murder, doesn't it?

But it turns out that a clerical error resulted in her release and so she's headed back to the rockpile for another two years.

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Barack's Typical White Grandmother

I didn't pay too much attention to Barack's anecdote about his grandmother showing racism because she was nervous when she passed a black man on the street, or when he commented the other day that she was a "typical white person". Unfortunately for Obama, he wrote about the incident in his book, and his grandmother does not come off as racist:

"A man asked me for money yesterday. While I was waiting for the bus."

That's all?"

Her lips pursed with irritation. "He was very aggressive, Barry. Very aggressive. I gave him a dollar and he kept asking. If the bus hadn't come, I think he might have hit me over the head."


Sounds to me like she had the situation sized up pretty well; any panhandler who remains aggressive after you've given him a buck is clearly up to no good.

Sorry Barack, but I'm rapidly getting the feeling that you're the racist here.
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Eleanor Clift Fudges

In an otherwise reasonable column on the Obama/Clinton battles:

Some 50 delegates were reportedly poised to unite behind Barack Obama if he had won by even 1 point in Texas. He lost the popular vote by 100,000 ballots, and now we learn that 100,000 Republicans voted for Hillary Clinton, probably not because of some change in party allegiance but because they thought she would be the easier candidate to beat.


Gee, Obama lost Texas by 100,000, Hillary got 100,000 votes from Republicans, so if we exclude Republicans, Obama would have won? Congratulate yourselves if you weren't duped by the little sleight of hand there. In fact, Obama got more votes from Republicans than Hillary did, according to the exit poll:



In fact, working the numbers out reveals that Hillary got about 116,000 votes from Republicans in Texas, while Obama got about 134,000, so if Republicans had been excluded, Hillary would have won by 18,000 more votes. Of course, you can probably figure out whom Clift is supporting. Note that she assumes Republicans only voted for Hillary because she's the weaker candidate. Why did Republicans vote for Obama? It can only be because he's good and noble and wants to bring us change and hope.

She doesn't mention Rush Limbaugh's exhortation to his Texas listeners to vote for Hillary. Why? Because it doesn't fit her argument. Rush specifically urged them to vote for Hillary not because she was the weaker candidate, but because it would keep the race going.

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Friday, March 21, 2008
 
Poll: Obama's Speech Fails

Oh, it's still getting plenty of accolades, but if the goal was to erase the stain of Reverend Wright's remarks, it was a failure:

“Taking all this into account, are you more or less likely to support Obama for president?”

Less likely (52%)
More likely (19%)
About the same (27%)
No opinion (2%)


Note in particular that the "About the Same" category is not necessarily supportive of Obama's candidacy; I had no intention of voting for him before the Wright scandal, so it certainly didn't move the needle in my case.

And get this staggering result:

Even so, the poll displays no numbers flattering to Obama. Most startling is that blacks by 56% to 31% said the speech made them less likely to vote for him.
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Thursday, March 20, 2008
 
Has Obama Hit the Iceberg?

It's beginning to look like it. He's down 16 points in Pennsylvania.

Clinton of New York leads Obama of Illinois by 16 percentage points -- 51 percent to 35 percent -- according to the Franklin & Marshall Poll conducted for the Tribune-Review, WTAE-TV in Pittsburgh and other news outlets. Nearly one in seven likely Democratic voters -- 13 percent -- are undecided.


And an amazing 28 points in West Virginia.

The first Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of the race shows that Clinton attracts 55% of the Likely Democratic Primary Voters while Obama is supported by 27%. Eighteen percent (18%) are not sure.


And in a national poll, he trails Hillary by seven points.

The March 14-18 national survey of 1,209 Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters gave Clinton, a New York senator, a 49 percent to 42 percent edge over Obama, an Illinois senator. The poll has an error margin of 3 percentage points.


And there are signs of desperation as well. His surrogates are trying to prevent a revote in Florida and Michigan.

The Democratic National Committee said it would accept a proposal for a new round of balloting in Michigan, but the bill has been bottled up in part because Obama's campaign has raised objections to it.

Among those objections is that the legislation says that if an individual voted in the Jan. 15 Republican primary, he or she would be disqualified from voting in the do-over primary in June. Robert F. Bauer, an attorney for the Illinois senator's campaign, raised other potential problems with the latest Michigan proposal for a revote, saying it would be "unprecedented in conception and proposed structure," as no other state has ever "re-run an election in circumstances like these." While all sides had hoped they could avoid the controversy, the nomination standoff has made the results in Michigan and Florida potentially scale-tipping.


Remember, Obama got his start by similar skullduggery, challenging the signatures on his opponents' nominating petitions and getting the other contenders thrown off the ballot. He's no stranger to hardball tactics.

A lot of people have bought the meme that Hillary can't catch Obama. That's true in terms of the pledged delegates (barring a miracle), but it ignores the obvious; if Obama's sinking the superdelegates won't stay with him.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008
 
Ron Paul's Legions

I got a chuckle out of this story:

Ron Paul says the legions of newcomers his presidential campaign brought to the Republican Party are getting the cold shoulder from John McCain and from the party.


Paul typically grabbed about 4-5% of the vote with his antiwar, anti-Federal Reserve stance. It's hard to see the overlap with McCain. The Ronulans should like his pork-busting efforts.

The Texas congressman says neither he nor his supporters have heard from Mr. McCain or Republican National Committee Chairman Mike Duncan since March 4, when the Arizona senator accumulated enough delegates to clinch the party's presidential nomination.


Well, Mitt Romney didn't wait by the phone; he went out and announced that he was willing to take the second slot on the ticket. Has Paul conceded? As far as I recall, he only suspended his race when he went back to secure his congressional seat. Is he officially out? Nope:

Mr. McCain hasn't approached Mr. Paul's voters because Mr. Paul has not called to say he is ending his run, says McCain campaign senior adviser Charles Black.


Cart before the horse, there, gentlemen!
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008
 
A Candidate We Can All Support



The seldom-remembered finale of the Snoopy songs by the Royal Guardsmen. Cute but a bit too sappy.

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Oddball Note in Obama's Speech

Generally a good speech, and Obama successfully moved the focus from the anti-Americanism of his pastor's sermons to the anti-White people aspect. But there was one really jarring note in the middle of Obama's well-worn story about Ashley eating mustard sandwiches:

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.


Say what? What is he trying to say there? It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

Update: Allahpundit does an excellent job of highlighting some of the dodges that Obama's soaring rhetoric hides:

“[R]ace is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now,” saith the prophet, politely eliding the fact that he was only too happy to ignore it for 20 years when it was being belched at him from the pulpit in its most wretched form and then for another 13 months as a candidate until ABC dropped it on his plate and rubbed his face in it. Now, with his ass in a sling, suddenly it’s time for the great conversation. If any other politician tried a move this transparently cynical, to nudge the conversation away from his own craven tolerance of racial hatred to some sort of redemption narrative by which to hold that against him is to be, in effect, objectively anti-progress, the media would vivisect him. Instead, expect a full-body orgasm on “Hardball” tonight as the thrill in Chris Matthews’s leg spreads accordingly. Our commenters laughed at me the other day for calling him a spectacularly shrewd politician. How do you feel now?
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Monday, March 17, 2008
 
Great Minds Think Alike

Bill James shares his theory of when a college basketball game is no longer in doubt:

* Take the number of points one team is ahead.
* Subtract three.
* Add a half-point if the team that is ahead has the ball, and subtract a half-point if the other team has the ball. (Numbers less than zero become zero.)
* Square that.
* If the result is greater than the number of seconds left in the game, the lead is safe.


I have thought about this a fair amount myself while watching basketball games and my own formula is much simpler, although probably not entirely as accurate. My theory is that if the team in the lead is up by ten points plus the number of minutes left in the game, the lead is safe. Consider this using James' formula:

Lead is 11 points with 1 minute left. James agrees if the team with the lead also has the ball; but says the lead is only 94% safe if the other team has the ball.

This highlights the main problem I have with the article; what does 94% safe mean? Does it mean that 6% of the time teams come back from being down by 11 points with one minute left? And if you get a 12 point lead with two minutes left but the other team has the ball, James says the lead is only 60% safe. That seems a little out of kilter, doesn't it? I'd guess the vast majority of teams in that situation go on to win; way more than 60%. So let's say he's starting from 50% and these percentages are the amount they collect of the remaining 50%. Even there you'd be putting the 12-point leader at 80% to win the game; I suspect 99% is more likely.
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Who Gave This Woman a Soapbox?

I have to say, this is one of the most vapid posts in a long history of vaporous posts at the HuffnPuff. Compared to Jane Smiley, Jim Lampley seems positively erudite and sophisticated. Writing on the evils of Hillary:

Clinton, of course, is not Cheney. Dick Cheney is the mad master of corruption, a person who literally doesn't know what integrity is. But Hillary is too smart not to know, and she has made up her mind to shelve her integrity for the sake of ambition. And let me be clear what I mean by corruption -- I have no idea what her financial gains have been over the years, and I don't care. What I mean by corruption is any and all support of the criminal policies of the Republicans while calling herself a Democrat, in order to gain power.


Typical airheaded liberal who thinks that Democrats should disagree with anything the Republicans come up with. But she's got a slot at the HuffnPuff, and it's not hard to gather that she pays some attention to politics. But get this:

Obama is not a known quantity. I have seen him one time and listened to one speech, and I was reasonably impressed by that speech. But Hillary Clinton is a known quantity. If you like the world that the Bushes and Clintons have made in the last twenty years, then you should by all means vote for her. But as of this week, I don't see her as the person I want answering the red phone.


She's listened to one speech? Sheesh, I'm in the "no way I'd vote for Obama camp," and I've listened to a half-dozen speeches of his and the audiobook of The Audacity of Hope. Maybe she's in the fruitcake 5% that is considering voting for Nader, but otherwise it seems insane that she's posting her thoughts on a major liberal blog with that ridiculously slender amount of attention paid to a major candidate.
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Sunday, March 16, 2008
 
More Manson Family Killings?

I have always had a fascination with the Manson Family, dating from the time in 1971 when our local paper ran a long article on the trial of Manson and his followers. I devoured the book Helter Skelter, one of the few non-fiction books I've read more than once. Turns out there's an investigation going on into whether there were other murders at a ranch where the family hid out.

And the results of just-completed followup tests suggest bodies could indeed be lying beneath the parched ground. The test findings -- described in detail to The Associated Press, which had accompanied the site search -- conclude there are two likely clandestine grave sites at Barker Ranch, and one additional site that merits further investigation.

Next step, the ad hoc investigators urge: Dig.


One of the investigators turns out to be the sister of one of the people murdered by the family, actress Sharon Tate:



"After the murder, my mom became a shell of herself," said Debra Tate, who was 17 when her sister, actress Sharon Tate, was killed. Her younger sister Patti was 11. "I filled in at home, as best I could."

Debra Tate's mother, Doris Tate, emerged from years of depression when she heard that a Manson family member was seeking parole.

She gathered 350,000 signatures, helping keep the murderer in prison. She also lobbied successfully to change state law to ensure the rights of victims' family members to make statements during sentencing and parole hearings.


I suspect the member who was up for parole was Susan Atkins. Atkins is by all accounts reformed, but at the same she participated in several particularly gruesome murders. This is one area where I am definitely conservative; prison is not, as liberals say, a place where one is supposed to be rehabilitated. I don't care that she's changed; she did terrible things and should have been executed for them years ago (her sentence was commuted to life after California's death penalty was set aside for a number of years in the 1970s).
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