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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Outrage

CNBC reported last night that the average managing director on Wall Street received a bonus of 1.1 million dollars last year. This year he is expected to receive a bonus of 600 thousand dollars. However, had it not been for the bailout, the average director would have gotten only 350 thousand.

The bailout money is going towards bigger bonuses?

If this turns out to be true, expect huge and justifiable outrage from that portion of the country which does not work on Wall Street. I've never heard a better reason for an overthrow of the government -- and the financial powers that be -- in my lifetime.

I'm sure their excuse will be something along the lines of, well, the TARP money didn't go towards the bonus pool, that money was used to shore up our bottom line and to increase liquidity, as it was supposed to.

But does anyone really believe that if the TARP money hadn't been there, some of the moneys used for those purposes might have come from the bonus pool?

How will all the taxpayers who make 50, 60, or 70 thousand dollars a year feel about this?

Don't be surprised if they get their torches and pitchforks and head for Wall Street. I know I'll be rooting them on.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Racism redefined

I have a black friend whose experiences with fairly blatant racism I've witnessed some of firsthand. I've been with him when a cabbie did not stop to pick him up, though my friend was dressed in a suit and tie; the cabbie then picked someone else up further down the block. And I was at a party in a New York City apartment one time when my friend knocked on the front door, and a girl wouldn't open the door for him after seeing him through the peephole. In both instances, the person was obviously reacting to his race. And I'm sure these two incidents constituted a very small fraction of the petty humiliations he's endured in his life.

If I were in his shoes, I sometimes wonder, would I become bitter? I probably would. When those types of experiences happen often enough, it's difficult not to retreat into a hardened us vs. them attitude. At the same time, I hardly blame either the cabbie or the girl for their actions. About a decade ago the actor Danny Glover made a cause celebre out of the fact that cabbies often didn't pick up black men after he had a similar experience. The newspapers picked up the story and there were several editorials expressing dismay at this situation. Within the next few months I noticed three stories in the paper about slain cabbies, all three of whom had been shot after being robbed in predominantly black areas. After that I heard no more of the Glover cause. It's easy for newspapers to wax self-righteous about how hard it is for a black man to get a cab, but editorialists are not the ones putting their lives at risk. The chances are, of course, that any random black person is probably a safe fare. But the odds of being robbed or even killed by a black are still much higher than by a white, so why would any sane cabbie not play the odds? Likewise, any white girl who opened her door to an unknown young black man in New York City in the mid-80's would also have been taking an unnecessary chance.

The question then becomes, whom should my friend be angry at, the whites who instinctively regard him as the Feared Other, or the young black men who commit crime and thereby instill that fear? Logically, he should be angry at those young black men, though I have to admit that in his shoes I'd probably also resent whites. My friend, by the way, doesn't show any overt hostility towards whites: he has plenty of friends who are white, and he is generally extremely congenial. But when you see whom he roots for in sports, and listen to him talk politics, it's obvious which team he's on. Would he still be rooting for his own team if he hadn't had those experiences? Probably, but perhaps with a touch less passion.

In an earlier post I alluded to the subtle racism that Colin Powell has presumably experienced. When whites are in the presence of blacks they are usually a little more polite than they would be with other whites, a little more guarded, and a little more ill at ease. And there are all sorts of ways they can unwittingly and unintentionally emphasize the gap between the races. These range from the outright insensitive ("Can I touch your hair?" or "You people...") to any excessive friendliness or flattery which rings false. I've seen a fair amount of this type of behavior (the latter usually exhibited by liberals), and it always makes me wince. Such awkwardness is in its way just as corrosive. While it doesn't indicate hostility, it does indicate a sort of fear, and emphasizes black peoples' otherness just as much. Every American black has been made to feel patronized this way. Worse, it's the type of racism which a decent person can only respond by silently stewing.

Again, one must ask why whites behave this way. I'm 54 years old, and for as long as I can remember I've been around whites who are absolutely terrified of being accused of racism, and blacks who feel much less need to censor themselves. Why the terror? Because all their lives whites have had drilled into them that the most despicable thing they can do is to discriminate on the basis of race. This message is drilled home again and again in school, in the newspapers, on TV shows, and in the movies. And it's hard to be cool when you're terrified. (Blacks are not similarly terrified because the racism depicted only goes one way.)

This raises another point, the definition of racism. Traditionally it has meant discriminating against someone on the basis of race. More recently, the definition has grown to include the belief that one's own race might be "superior"; superiority at what is rarely specified. Any fair-minded person would agree that to judge people by their race is patently unjust. However, the distinction which is never made is that judging a race by its people is entirely different from judging people by their race. If a black person thinks that blacks are superior at, say, sprinting, does that make him a racist? I doubt that any levelheaded person -- black or white -- who has watched the last few Olympiads could come to any other conclusion. This is one component of human abilities which can easily be graded on a superior to inferior scale. And while no reasonable person would ever conclude that all blacks are faster sprinters than all whites, it's hard to escape the conclusion that at the top levels, blacks are, to put it bluntly, superior. Does noticing this fact of life make one a racist?

Of course, and most of you will have anticipated where this discussion was heading, the far more sensitive topic is racial differences in intelligence. There the salient fact is pretty stark: the average white IQ is 100, and the average black IQ fifteen points lower. (The average Jewish and East Asian IQs are supposed to be somewhere in the 110 range, but I've never heard anyone take offense at their mention; these are evidently less sensitive topics.) The only real controversy attached to the subject of IQ is the extent to which the differences are due to genetics rather than upbringing, the classic nature vs. nurture debate. Most of the evidence (the separated monozygotic twin studies, the separated sibling studies, regression toward the mean, etc.) points to a strong genetic component (in addition to an environmental one). Does being aware of this evidence make one a racist? A mere statistic hardly seems to have a moral value, but any politician who dared mention this would be called upon to resign from office. The few individuals who have dared broach this subject in public -- James Watson and Richard Hernstein come to mind -- have inevitably paid for it. Or how about the differences in the rate of violent crime? Does noticing such statistical disparities make one a racist? The new definition of racism seems to be, the ability to be empirically observant.

Of course, there are subtleties involved here: a white acquainted with the IQ statistics is morely likely to assume that any black he meets is dumb. This then fits the original definition of racism, to judge someone by his race, which virtually everybody would agree is unfair. How then does one balance an acquaintance with the statistics with an aversion to judging people by their race? My own experience is that if you're merely polite to everyone you meet, they will inevitably give you enough information within a minute or two for you to be able to judge them individually. I think this is all anyone can ask. If I had jumped prematurely to a hard conclusion -- as opposed to just weighing likelihoods -- I would never have gotten to know the abovementioned friend, who, by the way, scored an 800 on his Chemistry AT at age 14, an 800 on his physics AT at age 15, and is one of the most broadly knowledgeable -- as well as charming -- people I know.

If my friend represented the average black, I would be the first one to say that on average, blacks are far, far smarter than whites. But that's just not the case. My friend's existence doesn't negate the statistics, nor, in general, my life experience. And the history of sub-Saharan Africa, and for that matter, the entire world, is pretty clear proof of those statistics. I don't think my recognition of this makes me evil.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sympathy for Socialists

The recent bailout of Wall Street has been enough to make even the staunchest believer in free markets reconsider. A free market should mean that a firm is free to survive or fail itself, not free to take down the entire country with it. A firm simply cannot be allowed to make such gigantic, intertwining bets that its failure could possibly take down the entire financial system of the country and lead to another Great Depression. The size and scope of these bets must be regulated.

This is just sane capitalism, not socialism. But the next issue is, should the managers of these Wall Street firms get such outrageous bonuses for making bets at taxpayer expense? If you make huge bets which succeed wildly for two years in a row, and you're paid tens of millions for each of those years, but in the third year your bets sour and the taxpayers must foot the bill, there should be some provision whereby you have to give up at least part of the money you were paid in the first two years. There are currently no such clawback provisions, and changing the rules of any game midstream seems unfair in principle, but the larger principle here is the well-being of the taxpayers.

How did we get to the point where our CEOs are so grossly overpaid? It's not just capitalism; Japan has a capitalist system and their CEOs are generally paid no more than 30 times the lowest-paid employee of their corporation. (In fact, this was true in the U.S. until the last few decades.) But now, corporate chieftains are sometimes paid 500 or even 1000 what their lowest paid employees are; this happens nationwide, not just on Wall Street. Why is this tolerated? Because virtually every CEO of a large corporation stacks his Board of Directors, so that his cronies just rubber stamp whatever salary he decides to pay himself. Sometimes an "independent" compensation firm is consulted, but they are essentially paid by the CEO, so their independence is illusory.

Most large firms don't get bailed out by the government, so it's not the taxpayers who are being stolen from. It's the shareholders. Profits that by all rights should be going to them are instead funneled into the pockets of the CEO and his top management. And what exactly is it that these guys are so skillful at which is worth so much money? Corporate climbing. This means they're good at internal politicking, backstabbing, taking all the credit and none of the blame. These are generally not the qualities which make someone good at the job he was actually hired to do. In fact, such climbers often expend so much energy on climbing that their actual jobs get neglected. After twelve years on Wall Street, I can vouch that the Street attracts more than its share of such narcissistic personalities and even sociopaths.

Note that this suggestion would not prevent a Bill Gates -- or an Edwin Land, or a Henry Ford -- from becoming fabulously wealthy. They were visionaries who formed their own companies, and were thus their own primary shareholders; this is how they got rich. It's telling that such people generally do not pay themselves princely salaries or award themselves huge stock options. (As primary shareholders, why would they want to rip themselves off?)

Here's where the socialism comes in: I heard the suggestion recently that a law be passed preventing any manager of a company from being paid more than thirty times what his lowest-paid employee is paid. As a Libertarian, I dislike unnecessary laws. But with the current situation having spun so totally out of control, such a law seems increasingly necessary.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Pinocchio

I've always thought Joe Biden a near pathological liar. Here's a link to an editorial in the NY Post detailing his untruths during his debate with Sarah Palin:

http://www.nypost.com/seven/10042008/postopinion/editorials/the_lies_biden_told_132104.htm

Joe Biden is living proof that if you've served 37 years in the Senate, dress nicely, have a cultured accent, and speak with seeming authority, you can say anything and people will believe you. The problem is that instead of his nose growing with every lie he tells, his poll numbers go up instead.

The media tends to dismiss his mistakes as "just Joe being Joe," or as Biden "being gaffe-prone" in the same way that Gerald Ford was stumble-prone. But there's a difference. Ford's physical klutziness said nothing about his character; Biden's willingness to make up "facts" on the spot does.

Let's not forget that this is the same man who during his Presidential run in 1988 gave a speech about his grandfather who worked in the coal mines. The only problem was, Biden never had any ancestors who worked in the coal mines. It turned out that he had plagiarized the entire speech from British Labor leader Neil Kinnock, whose grandfather had been a miner. It's one thing to appropriate someone else's words; it's another to appropriate his entire family history. This type of persona-stealing is usually the province of con artists.

On another occasion in 1988 Biden told an interviewer (this was caught on CSPAN) that he undoubtedly had a higher IQ than the interviewer, as he had graduated in the top third of his law school class and had three undergraduate degrees. More lies. He graduated 76th out of 85 in his class at Syracuse Law School, and had only one undergraduate degree.

To all those who give an effete shudder at the thought of Sarah Palin being only a heartbeat away from the Presidency, think hard about the alternative.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Not about race

Colin Powell has always been an eminently respectable figure. He deserves more kudos than he gets for having been the only high-ranking member of the Bush administration who argued against the Iraq invasion. He was overruled, and pretty much directly as a result, resigned shortly thereafter. (Even better.)

Two days ago Powell, a lifelong moderate Republican who had given money to the McCain campaign in 2007, publicly endorsed Obama. He gave McCain, whom he referred to as "a lifelong friend," a lukewarm pat on the back, took the usual jabs at Sarah Palin, and then called Obama a "transformational candidate." He added that his decision was "not about race."

Of course not Colin.

In what way is four year senator Obama "transformational" if not by virtue of his race? Because he's the furthest to the left of any Presidential candidate in history?

How much better it would have been if Powell had simply said, "Yes, to be honest, race did enter into my thinking. As someone who has suffered from various sorts of racism in his life, most of it of the subtle variety, I have to admit it would give me a measure of satisfaction to see a black man as President. Frankly, I also think that it would do this country, with its troubled racial history, some good. It would be a sort of salve on the wounds of the past, and would give black people more of a sense that they are not as disenfranchised as they often feel. And I think it would even elevate our country's standing in the eyes of the world, especially the Third World, if we showed that we were open-minded enough to put a black man at the helm."

I understand this viewpoint, even if I don't see it as a reason to vote for Obama. If Powell had been straightforward enough to voice it, he might have scored even higher on the respectability meter. As it was, he lowered his credibility.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Manna From Heaven

Imagine how happy the Obama campaign is about this financial crisis. The entire country has gone into meltdown mode just one month before the election. They couldn't have asked for better timing.

Of course, if you asked any of their operatives if they were happy about it, they would undoubtedly reply, "Oh, of course not, we don't want to see people suffer this way. I suppose, to the extent that it helps Barack, it's beneficial in a way, but we certainly don't want to see people lose a good part of their 401-K's. No. Not at all."

Translation: "Are you kidding?! This is the best thing that could possibly have happened to us! This is wonderful! We're laughing all the way to the voting booth. Hooray!!"

Enough Villains for Everyone

This financial crisis has a villain to suit every political viewpoint, enough to make pundits of every stripe happy. Republicans are to blame, as are Democrats. Rich people are to blame, as well as poor people.

The most obvious target has been George W. Bush, under whose watch our economy fell apart. Presidents almost always get too much credit or blame for the economy. Economies tend to be huge, independent-minded beasts with cycles of their own, and usually pay scant attention to the machinations of whoever happens to be dwelling at 1600 Pennsylvania at the time. For instance, Clinton was given credit for erasing the deficit, though that was later demonstrated to be pretty much entirely a function of the higher tax receipts occasioned by the tech bubble. I'll go even further out on a limb here and say that the Fed Chairman himself has less to do with economic cycles than usually thought, though he usually has more control than the President. (Speaking of which, Fred Chairman Bernanke was snoring away at the wheel dreaming of inflation well past the point where a dangerous, Depression-era-type deflation was a strong possibility.)

In fact Bush does bear part of the blame for the current mess, if for no other reason than that he appointed Christopher Cox head of the SEC. In 2004, Cox rescinded the uptick rule, which stated that stocks could only be shorted on an uptick (and thus prevented large shorts from driving down the price of a stock via their superior firepower/deep pockets). He also changed the capital ratios so that the investment banks, instead of merely having $12 in equity for every dollar they actually owned to $30. Think about that for a moment. You know how you're constantly warned not to invest on margin, i.e., borrow against your stock to buy even more stock? The most that any of us as individuals can borrow is 99% of our collateral, i.e., have $1.99 of stock for every dollar we own. And having that much is usualll considered playing with fire. But the investment banks could carry thirty times their net worth, meaning, their assets had only to decline roughly three percent before they were totally wiped out. So Bush, through Cox, does bear a substantial portion of the blame.

What kind of person allows his investment bank to get leveraged to the tune of 30 to 1? Someone who is extremely greedy, who is terrified of losing market share, and who worries that his bonus this year may not be as much as the next CEO's. In other words, every CEO on Wall Street. In their thirst for today's profits, virtually every one of them forgot about the lessons of yesterday (ever heard of Long Term Capital?) and the risks of tomorrow. But in the faux-macho culture of Wall Street, taking financial risk -- almost always with other people's money -- is how you prove your masculinity.

Remember all the publicity about redlining, the practice of doling out mortgages in such a way that minorities ended up with fewer of them? The Community Reinvestment Act of 1995 was created in order to put a stop to this. But there was one little hitch. In order to accomplish this, they had to ask the mortgage banks to lower their lending standards, stop paying attention to such pesky details as credit records, job histories, and the like. The CRA had Democratiic fingerprints all over it, but President Bush did not help matters when in 2002 he announced that it was his goal to get 5.5 million more minority families into houses in the next ten years. Thus, the subprime disaster was born. And even worse, once subprime mortgages became accepted practice, plenty of white people horned in on them as well, and plenty of fairly well-to-do white people at that, every last one of them taking on more house than they could afford, completel confident that the housing boom would never end.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did their best to keep the disaster on track by hiring lobbyists to kill any legislation intended to rein them in. Among these lobbyists is the man who is in charge of John McCain's Presidential campaign. And the second largest recipient of campaign contributions from the two agencies is Barack Obama. When McCain tried to introduce legislation calling for stricter oversight in 2005, guess who killed it? Barney Frank, one of the heroes of the bailout, who said at the time that tightening lending standards would just be an excuse to cut lending to minorities.

There's virtually no one who's been in power in the last ten years whose hands are completely clean. Remember "Murder on the Orient Express"? (In Agatha Christie's book, every single passenger on a certain car has a motive for -- and a hand in -- murdering the evil man whose corpse turns up on the train.) This plot is not dissimilar.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Too Much to Ask?

Is it too much to ask that the Republicans field a candidate who can speak in complete sentences and has a rudimentary knowledge of grammar? After eight years of suffering through George W. Bush's mangled syntax and mispronunciations and runon non-sentences, none of which were ever less than cringe-inducing, we now have John McCain. It is painfully apparent from the last debate that McCain did not ace the verbal SATs himself. Who knows, maybe it was the stress of the debate itself which caused McCain to sound so befuddled, maybe he actually sounds like Shakespeare in the privacy of his own house. But he came across like a deer in the headlights -- and a dumb, inarticulate, repetitive one at that -- next to the eloquent, smooth-talking Obama. McCain's goofy grin, worn mostly at inappropriate times, did not help matters either.

Another point. My statistics teacher in business school told us (back in 1983) that in 21 of the previous 22 Presidential elections, the taller candidate won. (By my count, 4 of the next 6 were as well.) Next to the tall, elegant, youthful Obama, McCain looked like a wizened runt. Now, you say, elections shouldn't be decided on such superficialities. And, of course, you're right. They shouldn't be. But they are.

Tall, handsome, and square-jawed Mitt Romney, who is capable of speaking in complete sentences, would have been a far more formidable candidate. But in the primaries he split the conservative vote with Mike Huckabee, another charismatic conservative, so McCain won by plurality. Obama would even have done Romney the favor of removing the "flip-flop" label from him by having changed so many of his own positions during his headlong rush to the center. But perhaps this was a blessing in disguise for Romney. It would have been a near impossibility for a Republican to be elected this year, after these last eight disastrous years. And four years from now, the electorate will be far better acquainted with the real Obama, the one he has so artfully kept hidden, after his post-inaugural rush back to the far left.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Jeremiah Wright Off-Limits

I started this election cycle off intending to vote for Obama, because I have a son in eleventh grade who wants to join the military straight out of high school. I may yet hold my nose and do so, simply because my son's safety is far more important to me than any other issue. But Obama has shifted his position on Iraq (no more timetables) and Afghanistan (he now wants two more battalions there). And he now says that he would follow Osama bin Laden to "the gates of hell" (i.e., Pakistan) in an effort to sound stronger on defense. (Is that what we want to call a nominal ally?) Yet Obama still seems more peaceable than the other candidate, who almosts visibly lusts to do the neocons' bidding.

But now I'll have to not only hold my nose, I'll have to suppress my anger as well. The way the Obama campaign -- with the help of their allies, the media -- has framed it, you are now considered racist if you even bring up the subject of Jeremiah Wright's racism.

Let's put this in perspective. Imagine there was a white candidate who had attended a white nationalist church where the pastor was caught on tape calling this country "the U.S. of Crips and Bloods" (instead of "the U.S. of KKK"), and saying that he was tired of living in a country "where white people work and black people shirk" (instead of a world of "people in need run by white folks in greed"). And let's say the white candidate had attended this church for seventeen years, had his children baptized by this pastor, and counted him among his close friends and mentors. Then, after the tapes were made public, and the media questioned the white candidate about his association, he claimed, "Oh, I wasn't there on the days when he said those things," and that this is not the pastor he knows. But we'd all know perfectly well what the spirit of the pastor's other remarks must have been from the snapshot we got.

Next the white pastor says that the media is just using these "sound bites" to further their own ends, but then he goes on the road to not only repeat but go further with what he was caught saying on tape, and adds that the candidate is only saying what he has to (in repudiating him) in order to get elected.

Is there any chance, any chance at all, that this white candidate would not be forced to withdraw from the race? Of course not. But if you so much as bring up the subject of Barack Obama's tacit acceptance of Jeremiah Wright's racism, you are the one who is considered racist.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Male Hormones and Politics

My son pointed something out to me the other day that had never occurred to me before, but rang true. He said, "The liberals at school, the ones who have long hair and wear Che Guevara t-shirts, are always the wimpiest guys." There does seem to be a correlation between hormones and politics. Guys who stick up for their own race do seem likely to have more testosterone.

After my son's comment, I thought of the guys I've known personally from both sides of the aisle and then sorted them by (at least the superficial appearance of) masculinity, and found a near perfect correlation. Guys of any race who stick up for their own are more likely to be muscular, belligerent, and aggressive, with typically male personalities. Think of the guys you've known whom you've thought of as hyper-androgenized (as opposed to androgynous): did any of them have a political viewpoint which favored others over their own group?

This isn't true of just whites. The blacks who most aggressively demand special privileges and reparations -- think Jesse Jackson, or the Fruit of Islam, or the Black Panthers and all their spiritual descendants -- don't seem to be lacking in male hormones. Blacks who make fun of their own, on the other hand -- think Chris Rock, or Dave Chapelle -- tend to be skinny, even scrawny guys who are less bellicose by nature.

The primaries this year gave us some great examples of each type. Let's make the obvious assumption that among whites, those who stick up for their own tend to lean Republican, and those who don't, Democrat. Look at the contestants in the Republican primary: Fred Thompson, the former actor and basketball star. Mitt Romney, who bears a slight resemblance to Clark Kent. John McCain, former top gun who stuck by his fellow POWs while in captivity. Rudy Giulani, not a physical specimen but a tough former DA with a weakness for the ladies. Mike Huckabee, a big guy who recently ran a marathon. Ron Paul, former state champ at track. Duncan Hunter, the square-jawed former Army Ranger who servied with the 173rd Airborne and participated in 24 helicopter assaults. And Tom Tancredo.

Now let's look at the Democratic field: Hillary Clinton. Chris Dodd. John Edwards. Joe Biden. And Dennis Kucinich. Enough said. (I'm guessing Hillary ranked highest in testosterone.) The other two Democrats, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson, who is Hispanic, fall into a different category: by being Democrats, they are essentially sticking up for their own.

Think of it another way. You're a freshman in college and you've been assigned two roommates, both white. One is a burly football player who loves hunting and ATVing. He likes to drink and has been known to get into fights. The other is a 143 pounder who smokes pot, has lots of friends who are women (who truly are just friends), and looks down on athletes as "Neanderthals." Which one is the Democrat?

Yes, there are exceptions to both rules. But by and large the stereotypes hold.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Whence Obama's Accent?

Listen carefully to Barack Obama, and what you'll hear is a faint southern (whitish) accent, located roughly midway between a northern white (non)accent and a black accent. It's not quite black enough to scare the white electorate, though it does have a tendency to turn several shades darker when he's speaking to an all black audience. But it's not white enough to make him sound like a Tom or an effete Ivy leaguer.

So the question becomes, just where did he acquire this quasi-Southern accent? Did he get it from his Kenyan father, who disappeared from his life when he was two? From his Kansan mother? From his Kansan grandparents, who raised him while his mother went gallivanting around the world? From his schoolchums in Indonesia? Or is that the way they speak at Punahou, the exclusive Hawaiian prep school he attended?

One can't help but suspect that his accent, like everything else about him, was carefully constructed for maximal electoral value.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A temperamental warmonger and a black nationalist

Has there ever been a worse choice?

McCain won the nomination only because Huckabee and Romney split the conservative vote in the primaries. There seemed to be a sense among the voters that he "deserved" it for having been a victim of the Cong for five years and of W's dirty tactics in 2000. Who knows, maybe he did.

McCain evidently has a well deserved reputation for being snide and temperamental in the Senate. He ditched his first wife because she lost her looks and married his second because she was an heiress. He was one of the Keating Five. He knows nothing of economics and has said as much. He "suspended" his campaign to help out with the economic bailout plan, arrived in DC amidst great fanfare, and contributed exactly nothing, because he had nothing to contribute. His proposed solution to the current economic crisis is to cut earmarks and pork barrel spending, which have nothing to do with the current crisis. He says we should fight in Iraq for a hundred years if that's what it takes and wants to escalate the war in Afghanistan.

Because he suffered in wartime as a young man, Mr. Permawar wants to make sure that other young men suffer too.

Obama is running as a "uniter", which must be why he was named the most liberal U.S. Senator and only chooses allies and mentors like Ayres and Wright. (He must want to "unite" us with Cuba and Venezuela.) His entire campaign is a masterful work of obfuscation. He talks only of his concern for the middle class, but his past efforts have been purely on behalf of the black underclass. He left less of a paper record as editor of the Harvard Law Review than anyone before or since, seemingly by design.

Obama's solution to our economic crisis is to move us closer to socialism. If the twentieth century taught us one lesson, it's that socialism doesn't work, but that doesn't stop the True Believers, of whom he is one.

In an early speech he said that the Republicans' tactic against him would be to say, "He doesn't look like the other Presidents. Oh, and did we tell you, he's black?" (When was it exactly when McCain said that?) His campaign staff has encouraged his followers to shout down opposing views. And his campaign has paid $800,000 to ACORN to register voters multiple times.

Deep within Barack Obama beats the heart of Robert Mugabe.

If only Ron Paul were running as an independent.