November 2008 Archives

It looks like there were only ten gunmen involved in the Indian terrorist attacks, which begs the question: could an armed citizenry have put the series of attacks to a much quicker end?

(Anyone know about the right to bear arms in India? Doesn't seem like concealed-carry is very widespread there.)

You can't always count on the police to protect you. Writes a photographer on the scene:

But what angered Mr D'Souza almost as much were the masses of armed police hiding in the area who simply refused to shoot back. "There were armed policemen hiding all around the station but none of them did anything," he said. "At one point, I ran up to them and told them to use their weapons. I said, 'Shoot them, they're sitting ducks!' but they just didn't shoot back." ...

The militants returned inside the station and headed towards a rear exit towards Chowpatty Beach. Mr D'Souza added: "I told some policemen the gunmen had moved towards the rear of the station but they refused to follow them. What is the point if having policemen with guns if they refuse to use them? I only wish I had a gun rather than a camera."

Everyone in the crowd that trampled Jdimytai Damour at Wal-Mart should face manslaughter charges.

1 Timothy 6:10 "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil."

Kimberly Cribbs, who witnessed the stampede, said shoppers were acting like "savages."

"When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling 'I've been on line since yesterday morning,'" she said. "They kept shopping."

I'm thankful for:

  • my wife
  • my unborn baby daughter
  • my salvation
  • my country
  • my church
  • my home
  • my job
  • my family
  • my friends
  • my health
  • living in Missouri
  • the dinner I smell cooking

Lots more, but I've gotta run!

Mumbai has been hit by a coordinated set of distributed terrorist attacks involving the use of machine guns against crowds of people in at least nine locations throughout the city. Three of the city's top law enforcement officers were apparently targets and have been killed.

Gunmen have opened fire at a number of sites in the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay), killing at least 78 people and injuring about 200 more.

Police said shooting was continuing and that the incidents were co-ordinated terrorist attacks. Gunmen have taken hostages at two luxury hotels. ...

On Wednesday, gunmen opened fire at about 2300 local time at sites in southern Mumbai including a train station, two five-star hotels, a hospital and a restaurant popular with tourists.

Police said the gunmen had fired indiscriminately.

"The terrorists have used automatic weapons and in some places grenades have been lobbed," said AN Roy, police commissioner of Maharashtra state.

Much easier than building a bomb, but these are the first attacks of this kind I've heard of. Pray for India and her people.

Physician Paul Hsieh has written a great op-ed explaining how the lessons of the financial crisis should be applied to calls for universal health care.

When Obama's proposed national system inevitably collapses under the weight of market inefficiency and bureaucratic overhead, this will merely pave the way to fully socialized single-payer health care. Health care spending now comprises one-sixth of the U.S. economy. Forcing taxpayers to pay for everyone's medical expenses would make the $700 billion Wall Street bailout look like pocket change in comparison. ...

The fundamental problem with "universal health care" is the mistaken premise that health care is a "right." Rights are freedoms of actions (such as the right to free speech), not automatic claims on goods and services that must be produced by others.

Individuals are legitimately entitled to health care that they purchase with their own money, are promised by prior contractual agreements, or are given to them via voluntary charity.

Attempting to guarantee an alleged "right" to health care must necessarily violate someone's actual rights - the rights of those compelled to pay for it. The ultimate victims will again be the taxpayers, just as they were the ultimate victims of the Wall Street bailout.

Hsieh has been a consistent voice of sanity on this issue, and I hope other medical professionals are paying attention.

This interpretation of events will obviously be contentious, but I generally like it! Lyle Rossiter argues that Obama's election is the result of idealization on the part of immature adults who are clinging to their childhood.

When a child's development proceeds well enough, his tendency to overvalue others is gradually neutralized to become a mature capacity for realistic admiration. Instead of starry-eyed worship of grand illusions, the mature citizen admires and idealizes proven values. He reveres, among other things, certain time-honored virtues and the people who practice them, especially the personal ideals of honesty, integrity, self-reliance, courage, persistence and dependability; the political ideals of individual liberty, the rights of property and contract, and the rule of law; and the ethical ideals of mutuality, decency and charity, among others.

When development does not proceed well enough, the longing of the child for a benevolent parent with superhuman powers persists into adulthood. The search for an Idealized Other easily contaminates the immature citizen's judgment on political matters, with grave implications for societal sanity. His wish for a loving caretaker in the flesh aborts his moral commitment to the abstract principles essential to civilized freedom. Instead of seeking through limited government those protections that allow him to make a good life for himself, the immature adult seeks an omnipotent leader and benevolent government to provide it for him. In his fondest fantasy, The Modern Parental State will meet his needs and desires, rescue him from his mistakes and quiet his existential angst; The Modern Permissive Culture will indulge his appetites and rationalize his sins. The Idealized Leader who brings "Change We Can Believe In" will make us all, as Jacquez Barzun observed in "From Dawn to Decadence," "safe and at ease in a hundred ways." ...

Ignorance combined with immaturity can be politically devastating. On Nov. 4, 2008, massive numbers of immature and ignorant American voters failed to understand the ominous implications of Barack Obama's personal history: his adolescent tutelage with Communist activist Frank Marshall Davis, his 20-year filial relationship with hate-filled Jeremiah Wright, his political and business dealings with terrorist William Ayers, his real estate transactions with felon Tony Rezko, his Fannie Mae connections to the sub-prime mortgage debacle, his vote in the Illinois Senate against medical care of aborted-live babies and his radically liberal voting record in the U.S. Senate. On Nov. 4, 2008, millions of immature and ignorant American voters saw Obama as a loving father of two little girls but ignored his choice to send them every Sunday to hear the vile racist and socialist rants of a mad preacher.

Read the whole thing. I think this characterization of the typical modern voter is spot-on:

The uneducated citizen expects government to run his life with myriad regulations, pay his bills with other people's money and force others to "cooperate" with him for his benefit. Like a dependent child, he seeks freedom from want and risk, not freedom to live responsibly as he chooses.

If America is going to stay free we either need wholesale education reform or a restriction of the voting franchise. I'd greatly prefer the former, but I'd take the latter in order to preserve our liberty.

(HT: SW.)

Ben Casnocha has written two excellent posts about how to successfully network with people: "It's Too Late to Get to Know a Fortune 500 CEO" and "To Find Good, Underrated People, De-Emphasize Popular Filters".

The point of the first is that if you want to know important people, you have to get to know them before they're important. This means you have to invest time in relationships with people you think may become important in the future.

The point of the second is that you'll be much more successful meeting "good" people (not just important people) if you don't use the same filters that everyone else uses. Everyone wants to meet the beautiful girl and the rich man, so they won't have time for you. He recommends cultivating interest in qualities that don't match these popular filters.

The Starr Bumble Bee is the world's smallest piloted airplane.

Here's a nifty article outlining several cutting edge military research projects.

Exodus 20:16

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

The Ninth Commandment is popularly abbreviated as "Thou shalt not lie", but I will explain why the truth behind the command is a bit more complicated than that.

First, is "bearing false witness" the same as "lying"? The Hebrews understood the phrase to be a formulation specific to official court settings, prohibiting "swearing falsely against your neighbor in matters of law and civil proceedings". Being generally honest and truthful is good, but such a broad interpretation of the Ninth Commandment is unsustainable.

There are clearly situations in which it is acceptable -- even laudable -- to deceive and lie. (Hat-tip to SS for these.)

Although our European and early American forebears believed that combat by stealth was dishonest and dishonorable and that soldiers should line up and fight face-to-face across a field of battle, God apparently disagrees. Furthermore, when playing a game or participating in a purposefully adversarial system it is not only acceptable to deceive, but expected. When playing basketball, it is not a sin to deceive by "feinting" one direction and then running another.

So it makes sense to interpret the Ninth Commandment narrowly and to understand the purpose God had when he wrote it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it well:

False witness and perjury. When it is made publicly, a statement contrary to the truth takes on a particular gravity. In court it becomes false witness.When it is under oath, it is perjury. Acts such as these contribute to condemnation of the innocent, exoneration of the guilty, or the increased punishment of the accused.They gravely compromise the exercise of justice and the fairness of judicial decisions.

Second, what do the above scenarios -- in which it is acceptable to lie and deceive -- have in common? I think the key is to be found in the oft-ignored, oft-omitted final phrase of the commandment: "against thy neighbor"... begging the question, "who is my neighbor?". How helpful of Jesus to answer that question for us!

The parable of the Good Samaritan is often interpreted to mean that everyone is my neighbor, but that's not what Jesus says. The Good Samaritan was "good" because he had an opportunity to be merciful, and then was merciful. The priest and the Levite were "bad" because they had the same opportunity and did not show mercy.

I don't want to read too much into any particular passage or twist myself in philosophical knots, but it appears to me that an underlying assumption of the Ninth Commandment is that you need to be truthful when there is an expectation that you will be. When you swear an oath, when you publicly assert a fact, when you make a business deal, or when you deal with an intimate acquaintance there is an expectation on the part of the listener that you are being truthful. The listener will act on and rely on what you have said, and if you are lying he will be injured.

In contrast, your wartime enemy and your basketball opponent have no expectation of honesty from you within the context of your confrontation: they are not your neighbors. Classically: the Nazis coming for the Jews in your attic are not your neighbors.

So the greatest part of discernment appears to rest on this final phrase, "against thy neighbor". A fool will be quick to define his neighborhood very narrowly, so as to permit a wide range of deception. Returning to the parable of the Good Samaritan, however, we see that Jesus intends us to define "neighbor" broadly. The parable is surprising specifically because the Samaritan was the traveler with the least expectation on him. Everyone knew that the Samaritans and Jews disliked each other. Of the three, the priest and the Levite were supposed to be the most spiritual, the ones everyone expected to help a person in need along the side of the road. But the Samaritan was the one who defined his "neighbors" broadly and who was consequently given the title "Good", a commendation which has resonated for 2,000 years.

I've heard stories from my parents about how wonderful California was when they moved there in the 1970s: wide open roads, beautiful scenery, plentiful attractions, and perfect weather. Well, the weather is still pretty nice, but most of the rest is gone. Which is why I left.

California is now a valuable touchstone to the country, a warning of what not to do. Rarely has a single generation inherited so much natural wealth and bounty from the investment and hard work of those more noble now resting in our cemeteries—and squandered that gift within a generation. Compare the vast gulf from old Governor Pat Brown to Gray Davis or Arnold Schwarzenegger. We did not invest in many dams, canals, rails, and airports (though we use them all to excess); we sued each other rather than planned; wrote impact statements rather than left behind infrastructure; we redistributed, indulged, blamed, and so managed all at once to create a state with about the highest income and sales taxes and the worst schools, roads, hospitals, and airports. A walk through downtown San Francisco, a stroll up the Fresno downtown mall, a drive along highway 101 (yes, in many places it is still a four-lane, pot-holed highway), an afternoon at LAX, a glance at the catalogue of Cal State Monterey, a visit to the park in Parlier—all that would make our forefathers weep. We can’t build a new nuclear plant; can’t drill a new offshore oil well; can’t build an all-weather road across the Sierra; can’t build a few tracts of new affordable houses in the Bay Area; can’t build a dam for a water-short state; and can’t create even a mediocre passenger rail system. Everything else—well, we do that well.

It's especially sad for me; I grew up in California, and I loved it once.

(HT: Instapundit.)

The whole idea of government "investment" is a sham. The government doesn't "invest" money, it takes money from taxpayers and then spends it. This is called "investing" because the government would like you to think that you'll earn a return that's more than what you put in. Generally speaking, though, the return goes to different people than those who made the "investment".

Barack Obama will expand access to jobs. Obama and Biden will invest $1 billion over five years in transitional jobs and career pathway programs that implement proven methods of helping low-income Americans succeed in the workforce.

That's not an "investment", that's just wealth redistribution. Maybe it's a good idea or maybe not, but the use of the word "invest" is Orwellian.

Second, there is no non-arbitrary way to determine whether a government program makes a profit or a loss. Indeed, government typically does not "talk" in those terms. If a private company is making losses for whatever reason, it must change and innovate in order to make a profit or it will continually make losses and go out of business. But with the government, if a program is labeled as failing, it receives more money—just think of FEMA, the current bank crisis, or, no doubt, Obama's future jobs program.

In contrast, when private companies fail it is not a proof of market failure; on the contrary, it is proof the market is working. It is eliminating failure; in sharp contrast, the government promotes failure: if you want more of something, subsidize it. Government's solution to government failure is consistent with Mises's theory of intervention: government meddling seems to require more government involvement (and more money). And there is nothing as permanent as a temporary government program.

I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. When the Left steals appealing terms and concepts from the Right and then redefines them to cover socialism and totalitarianism, it's a tacit admission that people don't want what the Left is offering and that they need to be tricked into accepting it (for their own good, of course).

Michael B. Oren explains some of America's history with pirates.

The answers to these questions can be gleaned from America's experience with Barbary. Lacking a navy and unwilling to bear the financial burden of building one, early American leaders opted to pay tribute to the pirates. By the 1790s, the U.S. was depositing an astonishing 20% of its federal income into North African coffers -- this in addition to costly naval stores and even cannons and gunpowder. In return for this tribute, America only received more piracy. Foreign corporations refused to ship their goods in American hulls and U.S. diplomats were forced to sail overseas on European-flagged ships for fear of seizure. Dozens of American sailors languished in captivity.

Humiliated by these depredations, the American public grew critical of its feckless government and began to demand action. "Steer the hostile prow to Barb'ry's shores," wrote an anonymous poet, a veteran of the Battle of Bunker Hill, "release thy sons, and humble Africa's power." In response, in 1794, Congress passed a bill authorizing $688,888.82 for the construction of six frigates "adequate for the protection of the commerce of the U.S. against Algerian corsairs." By 1801, America possessed a navy capable of striking back at the pirates and a president willing to do so. In reply to Tripoli's declaration of war against the U.S., Thomas Jefferson ordered those frigates into battle.

Learn more about the First Barbary War.

(HT: TigerHawk.)

Here's a live piracy map, courtesy JV and IO9.

Some of the recent volatility may have less to do with investors' predictions of the future values of equities, and more with forced selling to meet liquidity demands and tax planning.

Don't get me wrong. The freezing of the credit markets is wreaking havoc on the world economy. Corporate profits are dropping. Central banks are fighting off deflation and may not turn off the spigots fast enough -- which could ignite runaway inflation. But because of the credit mess, I am convinced the stock market is at its least efficient today. Don't read too much into any move. Here are the five biggest dislocations taking place:
  • Tax-loss selling ...
  • Mutual-fund redemptions ...
  • Mutual fund cap-gain distributions ...
  • Hedge-fund redemptions ...
  • Margin calls ...

Which means it's a good time to be buying if you don't need the cash!

I'm in the market for the long-term, which means the recent drops don't unsettle me much. I've been buying into the market as much as I'm able. So far, all those purchases have lost money! But since I don't know when the bottom will come, I'm not going to try to time it. In a few years, the people buying now will be a lot happier than the people selling.

(HT: JB.)

I'm home sick today and just watched the Reid-Pelosi press conference about the proposed auto industry bailout. I have to say that I was impressed by the way it was handled by the Senate Majority Leader the Speaker of the House (to my great surprise).

The gist of their response was that:

  • the auto CEOs looked like fools for flying in on their private jets begging for money
  • the American people are pissed off about all the tax money being spent on bailouts
  • any bailout would depend on the auto makers coming up with a convincing plan to restore long-term viability to the industry

I can't disagree with any of that!

Pelosi was quick to reject calls that the companies be allowed to go into bankruptcy, but she can't wave a wand to prevent it. She and Reid were right to put the onus on the CEOs to come back with a solid plan in a few weeks.

I was quite surprised by the rationality of it all. Let's see what happens.

Here's an amazing story from Spain: a woman has been given a new windpipe that was grown in a lab from her own cells.

Four months later she was able to climb two flights of stairs, go dancing and look after her children – activities that had been impossible before the surgery. Ms Castillo has also crossed a second medical frontier by becoming the first person to receive a whole organ transplant without the need for powerful immunosuppressant drugs.

Doctors overcame the problem of rejection by taking her own stem cells to grow the replacement organ, using a donor trachea (lower windpipe) to provide the mechanical framework. Blood tests have shown no sign of rejection months after the surgery was complete.

Speaking at a press conference in London yesterday, called to announce the results, Professor Martin Birchall, an ear, nose and throat surgeon from the University of Bristol who collaborated on the case, said: "This is just the beginning. I think it will completely transform the way we think about surgery.

"In 20 years' time the commonest surgical operations will be regenerative procedures to replace organs and tissues damaged by disease with autologous [self-grown] tissues and organs from the laboratory. We are on the verge of a new age in surgical care."

Faster please!

Man, it's a sad age we live in. The Royal Navy has been ordered to ignore pirates.

THE Royal Navy, once the scourge of brigands on the high seas, has been told by the Foreign Office not to detain pirates because doing so may breach their human rights.

Warships patrolling pirate-infested waters, such as those off Somalia, have been warned that there is also a risk that captured pirates could claim asylum in Britain.

The Foreign Office has advised that pirates sent back to Somalia could have their human rights breached because, under Islamic law, they face beheading for murder or having a hand chopped off for theft.

1. Pirates face death or dismemberment as punishment if turned over to local authorities

2. These punishments violate the pirates' human rights

3. People whose human rights could be violated can seek asylum in the UK

4. Therefore, captured pirates can seek asylum in the UK

What a joke.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “There are issues about human rights and what might happen in these circumstances. The main thing is to ensure any incident is resolved peacefully.”

Really? The "main thing" isn't to eliminate all the pirates and protect the high seas?

Are there no men in Her Majesty's service?

The proper way to deal with pirates has been known for centuries: you hang them on the spot.

(HT: Kenneth Anderson.)

While praying peacefully on a street corner in San Francisco, a Christian group is assaulted by a gay riot.

Then a crowd started gathering. We began to sing “Amazing Grace”, and basically sang that song the whole night. (At some points we also sang “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus” and “Oh the Blood of Jesus”.) At first, they just shouted at us, using crude, rude, and foul language and calling us names like “haters” and “bigots”. Since it was a long night, I can’t even begin to remember all of the things that were shouted and/or chanted at us. Then, they started throwing hot coffee, soda and alcohol on us and spitting (and maybe even peeing) on us. Then, a group of guys surrounded us with whistles, and blasted them inches away from our ears continually. Then, they started getting violent and started shoving us. ...

Roger got death threats. As the leader of our group, people looked him in the eyes and said “I am going to kill you.”, and they were serious. A cop heard one of them, and confronted him. (This part is kinda graphic, so you should skip the paragraph if you don’t want to be offended.) It wasn’t long before the violence turned to perversion. They were touching and grabbing me, and trying to shove things in my butt, and even trying to take off my pants - basically trying to molest me. I used one hand to hold my pants up, while I used the other arm to hold one of the girls. The guys huddled around all the girls, and protected them. Soon after, the cops came and stood between us and the mob. When it was getting more heated, the cops were like “You guys should leave.” and Roger said “We want to stay.”

The persecution Christians face in America is nothing like the persecution Christians suffer in other parts of the world, but it's still very real.

I'm conflicted over political efforts like California's Prop 8 (which amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage). On the one hand, I know that cultural acceptance of homosexuality is both a sin and extremely destructive to society itself. On the other hand, these sorts of political movements make it even harder to share the love of Christ with homosexuals, who are among the most in need of the Gospel. On the third hand, gays won't be tolerant of Christians unless we do more than tolerate them and fully affirm their lifestyle as "normal" and culturally edifying, which we can't do.

It breaks my heart to see people so desperately lost. It's difficult to coherently express love for someone while simultaneously trying to explain that the single characteristic they define themselves by (in this case, their sexuality) is offensive to God and needs to be brought into line with his will. The homosexuals I know have built up extremely high walls around their sexuality that make it almost impossible for them to consider anything (especially God) independently from their homosexual identity.

But I take hope in the knowledge that their sins are no more grievous than my own, and that God's grace is sufficient to rescue anyone who is willing to call on the name of Christ.

In this op-ed encouraging the purchase of American equity, Warren Buffet makes a connection between stocks and inflation that I hadn't heard before.

Today people who hold cash equivalents feel comfortable. They shouldn’t. They have opted for a terrible long-term asset, one that pays virtually nothing and is certain to depreciate in value. Indeed, the policies that government will follow in its efforts to alleviate the current crisis will probably prove inflationary and therefore accelerate declines in the real value of cash accounts.

Is Buffet claiming that the broad equity market automatically floats with inflation? I read a lot about investing, but I'd never heard that before. Presumably long-term bonds would react inversely.

Close on the heels of his other missteps, Obama has decided not to attend the upcoming G-20 summit. His aides say his presence would be "awkward" because he isn't yet the president, but couldn't he just go and listen?

Several Obama advisers, in separate interviews, all used the word “awkward” to describe the situation. But Robert Gibbs , a senior adviser to Mr. Obama, said: “While some may say it’s awkward that he’s not there, it would be far more problematic to be there. We firmly believe there is only one president at a time.” ...

The potential for even more significant misunderstanding was underscored last weekend when a quick, seemingly perfunctory telephone call by Mr. Obama returning the congratulatory call of Poland’s president led to a dispute about what was said about missile defense. If confusion over such a delicate issue could arise from a roughly five-minute phone call, Obama advisers reasoned, then the prospect of longer encounters in person with foreign leaders at this point would be fraught with peril. He has not even designated a secretary of state, Treasury secretary or national security adviser.

It's true that Obama can't set policy yet, but maybe there's something he could learn by listening to the visiting foreign leaders and watching the process.

Seeing as how, you know, he has no experience with this sort of thing.

(HT: TDS.)

I've wondered about a shortage of urban burial space for a long time, and it looks like the UK is facing just that.

The disturbance of human remains in burial grounds is to be allowed for the first time since the early Victorian era to deal with a shortage of graves, The Times has learnt.

Under a test scheme to begin in the new year, local authorities across the country will be allowed to exhume remains and rebury them deeper to create space for further burials on top. In some cases, new inscriptions will be added to the existing headstone to ensure that the heritage of the grave is not destroyed. Damaged or insignificant headstones would be removed and replaced with only the new name.

There are a few other options listed, but not the most obvious: vertical burial! Why must bodies be buried horizontally and stacked, when they could be easily buried vertically? Much less land required, and no one has to suffer the indignity of being buried beneath a rotting corpse.

Of course, as a commenter points out:

Nearly 1.2 million people can be buried per square mile (640 acres). Only about 200,000 of each year's crop of 600,000 dead Britons are buried. Thus, the UK needs only 106 acres per year of new graves out of 60,000,000 acres in the UK. There's simply no problem for millennia to come.

Don't have time to watch the whole I.O.U.S.A. movie in theaters? Well, here's the short version.

The national debt, explained simply enough for movie-goers to get it.

Newly formed Red Eagle Entertainment is planning to create films, television shows, and video games based on Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Sweet.

Former IBM executives Rick Selvage and Larry Mondragon are producers at Red Eagle Entertainment, a film company they started in 2003 after obtaining the series rights. News recently leaked that Universal will make the movie based on Red Eagle Entertainment’s rights on a $150 million budget, though no formal announcement has been made.

Selvage said in an interview that the game company will make a series of games that will be co-launched with the movies. In addition, Red Eagle Games will make a massively multiplayer online game based on the Wheel of Time universe.

“We’ve got a huge running start with this property,” Selvage said. “We expect to have a game based on every movie, and we expect no less than three movies, though that depends on how well each does.”

They'll do well, if they don't suck. The WoT storyline is very compelling fantasy, and the presence of very strong female characters will bring a lot to a movie franchise.

(HT: NW.)

No time to put up a nifty graphic, but I want to say thanks to all the veterans who sacrificed to much to secure our liberties.

The Federal Reserve is refusing to disclose who it lent $2 trillion to.

The Federal Reserve is refusing to identify the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers or the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.

Thanks Bernanke, but it's time to admit the truth: I borrowed the $2 trillion.

The archetypical fire-and-brimstone sermon: "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", by Jonathan Edwards.

It's hilarious that Democrat Congressman Charlie Rangel can't obey the laws he wrote himself. Not just won't, but apparently can't.

Rangel in September said he would hire a "forensic accountant" (think: "CSI: Charlie") to untangle a 20-year morass of tax returns and to determine just how much money he's made and how much in unpaid taxes he may still owe.

(Reminder: Rangel's committee writes the nation's tax laws.)

But as The Post's Isabel Vincent reported, two months later Rangel's lawyers claim they can't locate a single qualified firm that hasn't contributed to Rangel's campaigns or has no pending business before Ways & Means.

If Rangel were a Republican he would have been laughed out of office long ago. (He, Chris Dodd, and Barney Frank would three to start with. Tar and feathers.)

Here's an idea: how about a tax system that people can actually understand and obey?

(HT: JB.)

Missouri Prop C passed on Tuesday, but Allen Glosson says it was written by idiots. Now he tells us!

Don't worry, I predict that this prop will be dropped like a hot potato before its major provisions take effect.

(Not that my predictions have been all that great recently.)

Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff. Fine, he'll be aimed at Congressional Democrats, not Republicans. Have fun Nancy and Harry!

John Kerry, possible SecState. Are you joking?

Robert Gibb, Press Secretary. Who cares.

How about Colin Powell for SecDef?

If Obama could could convince Warren Buffet to be Secretary of the Treasury it would be a huge coup and would do a lot to restore market confidence.

How about John Bolton for Ambassador to the UN? That would put the world on notice.

From my wife: Obama can't even pay his own employees without chaos ensuing.

Lines were long and tempers flared Wednesday not to vote but to get paid for canvassing for Barack Obama. Several hundred people are still waiting to get their pay for last-minute campaigning. Police were called to the Obama campaign office on North Meridian Street downtown to control the crowd.

The line was long and the crowd was angry at times.

"I want my money today! It's my money. I want it right now!" yelled one former campaign worker.

Wow, how selfish! Quit thinking like a Republican.

"It should have been $480. It's $230," said Imani Sankofa.

"They gave us $10 an hour. So we added it. I added up all the hours so it was supposed to be at least $120. All I get is $90," said Charles Martin.

"I worked nine hours a day for 4 days and got paid half of what I should have earned," said Randall Waldon.

Welcome to my world! Maybe Obama redistributed your paychecks to people who needed it more than you.

Lots of high-speed photos and videos including my favorite kinds: bullets and explosions.

(HT: GeekPress.)

This post will be updated throughout the day.

- It's a travesty that Alaska is re-electing convicted felon Ted Stevens while John Sununu was tossed out by New Hampshire despite his long-ago attempts to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (which were blocked by Congressional Democrats).

- It's tragic that Barack Obama's grandmother passed away without seeing her grandson win the Presidency.

- Conservative group American Issues Project has released a survey it commissioned that explains why voters abandoned the Republican party. It's the economy, stupid.

The survey found that approximately 72 percent of those voters agreed that: "The Republican Party used to stand for keeping government spending under control, but not anymore." More than 75 percent of likely voters agreed with the statement: "When the Republican Party took control of Congress in 1994, they promised to reform government and clean up corruption in Washington, but they failed to live up to that promise." ...

On the immediate economic issue, the credit crisis and bailout, voters blame Republicans more than Democrats by 11 points (34 percent to 23 percent). By a huge majority (69 percent to 21 percent) the voters also believe the bailout passed by Congress is unfair to taxpayers.

- I thought the market would be up today no matter who won, but apparently not. I guess the markets like socialists less than they like uncertainty.

- Remember: for Christians, change doesn't come by electing the right guy or passing the right law. Those things are effects, not causes of the change God cares about. God calls on all people to repent of their sins and humble themselves to his will. Mere political change will follow suit.

- Both George W. Bush and John McCain are proof that trying to work with the Left is fruitless. During his last term Bush enacted more leftist policies than Bill Clinton ever did, and in exchange he was abandoned by the Right and vilified by the Left. McCain did more to appease race-conscious Hispanics than any Republican in history, and lost their vote to Obama 70-30... a worse showing that Bush in 2004.

- How long until we elect an artificial intelligence to public office? National office? President?

SDB has a set of Obama predictions that I generally agree with.

And it looks like Russia is adjusting quickly to the new world order.

President Dmitri Medvedev took advantage of the euphoria in America today to order the deployment of missiles inside Europe as a response to US plans for a missile defence shield.

Speaking within hours of Barack Obama's election as the new US President, Mr Medvedev announced that Russia would base Iskander missiles in its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad next to the border with Poland.

He did not say whether the short-range missiles would carry nuclear warheads. Mr Medvedev also cancelled earlier plans to withdraw three intercontinental ballistic missile regiments from western Russia.

Putin is going to eat Obama alive.

Looks like we're getting President Obama.

I'm not optimistic, but I say let's give him a chance. I'm not going to indulge in a right-wing "Obama Derangement Syndrome"... not yet anyway.

I'm sure I'll have plenty of criticisms on specific policy decisions, but I'll hold my fire until I've got something concrete to shoot at.

For now, congratulations to Barack Obama and his supporters. I'm not sure what you've gotten us in to, but let's face the future as a united country and see how things go.

(Yes, this post was very hard for me to write.)

Update:

John McCain just gave an excellent concession speech. "Classy", as everyone will say. He is a genuine hero, and a man of honor and integrity. He waged an honest campaign and frequently took the high road, which probably cost him votes in the end.

Senator McCain, thank you for your many years of service to our country. I hope you have the passion for many more.

The Corner has the most and best election day anecdotes.

Ever since reading about the Salem witch trials I've been fascinated with the idea. (Last night my wife and I were watching heretics being burned on The Tudors, which is what brought the topic to mind.)

For the sake of discussion, a definition: a witch is a woman with a connection to evil supernatural beings that grant her the power to afflict others with sickness, death, and misfortune without leaving any tangible evidence.

So let's set aside the question of whether or not there were or are real witches. Hypothetically, what would you do if you believed there were, and if you thought someone was a witch?

If someone were hurting others and it could be proven with tangible evidence, then you'd use that evidence in court to charge, convict, and sentence her according to law.

But if the person you believed to be causing the illegal harm were doing it via witchcraft -- and therefore leaving no tangible evidence -- what do you do? I can only see two options.

1. You appease the witch. There's no tangible evidence, and you won't act outside the law. The witch runs free, afflicting and extorting anyone she desires. (And remember, we're assuming she really is a witch.) Give her what she wants and maybe she'll go away (or at least bother someone else).

2. In collaboration with your fellow citizens -- who are all threatened by the witch -- you create some sort of extra-judicial proceeding designed to discover and neutralize the witch. You're very interested in justice, but since the crimes are being committed by witchcraft that leaves no tangible evidence your judgment will have to rely on testimony by witnesses. These witnesses will testify about what they've seen the witch do, and about her character. (Character is especially relevant since the witch derives her powers from evil supernatural beings.)

In modern times such circumstantial evidence is often used to convict criminals even when there is scant tangible physical evidence. People have been convicted of murder without even a dead body in evidence! So maybe your proceedings wouldn't even have to be that far outside the law.

Choice (3) is basically what the citizens of Salem chose to do. It's hard for me to argue that I'd have done any different, if I had been in their place.

Here's the Master of None voting guide for the issues on the Missouri ballot tomorrow.

Constitutional Amendment 1

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to add a statement that English shall be the language of all governmental meetings at which any public business is discussed, decided, or public policy is formulated whether conducted in person or by communication equipment including conference calls, video conferences, or Internet chat or message board?

Yes on 1. I've seen in California how ridiculous things can get when multilingualism is allowed in government offices. It's really not fun to go to the DMV and have them struggle to find a clerk who can speak English well enough to handle your case.

Constitutional Amendment 4

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to change provisions relating to the financing of stormwater control projects by:

  • limiting availability of grants and loans to public water and sewer districts only;
  • removing the cap on available funding and existing restrictions on disbursements;
  • requiring loan repayments to be used only for stormwater control projects?

No on 4. If passed, it appears that this amendment would transfer a lot of money and power to various special interest groups that care about stormwater issues.

Proposition A

Official Ballot Title:

Shall Missouri law be amended to:

  • repeal the current individual maximum loss limit for gambling;
  • prohibit any future loss limits;
  • require identification to enter the gambling area only if necessary to establish that an individual is at least 21 years old;
  • restrict the number of casinos to those already built or being built;
  • increase the casino gambling tax from 20% to 21%;
  • create a new specific education fund from gambling tax proceeds generated as a result of this measure called the “Schools First Elementary and Secondary Education Improvement Fund”; and
  • require annual audits of this new fund?

No on A. Although the $500 "loss limit" law is dumb and should be repealed, Prop A ties it to so many other issues that the waters get muddied. Why artificially limit the number of casinos by state law instead of local zoning rules? (To reduce competition for existing casinos, of course.) It's unlikely that Prop A will lead to a real increase in school revenues, since any gains would probably be offset by reduced funding from general revenue.

Proposition B

Official Ballot Title:

Shall Missouri law be amended to enable the elderly and Missourians with disabilities to continue living independently in their homes by creating the Missouri Quality Homecare Council to ensure the availability of quality home care services under the Medicaid program by recruiting, training, and stabilizing the home care workforce?

No on B. We don't need more councils. Let private industry handle it.

Proposition C

Official Ballot Title:

Shall Missouri law be amended to require investor-owned electric utilities to generate or purchase electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass and hydropower with the renewable energy sources equaling at least 2% of retail sales by 2011 increasing incrementally to at least 15% by 2021, including at least 2% from solar energy; and restricting to no more than 1% any rate increase to consumers for this renewable energy?

No on C. Prop C is idiotic. The "2% solar" requirement was just lifted from a similar California law where solar power is much more viable than in Missouri. Let market forces direct investment and power generation technology.

Thomas Sowell sums up Obama's ego and mouth as pithily as ever:

For someone who has actually accomplished nothing to blithely talk about taking away what has been earned by those who have accomplished something, and give it to whomever he chooses in the name of "spreading the wealth," is the kind of casual arrogance that has led to many economic catastrophes in many countries.

Obama's vacuousness and the blatant corruption of his campaign are staggering. Fortunately he's not going to win!

Argh, why the heck am I still awake?

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is pumping John McCain to Ohioans and he's got a pretty good line:

"He has proven what kind of a man he is. We don't have to wonder if he's ready to lead. We don't have to wonder is he ready to be president of the United States. John McCain has served his country longer in a POW camp than his opponent has served in the United State Senate."

And it looks like McCain had a good day in the polls as well!

Pollster John Zogby: "Is McCain making a move? The three-day average holds steady, but McCain outpolled Obama today, 48% to 47%. He is beginning to cut into Obama's lead among independents, is now leading among blue collar voters, has strengthened his lead among investors and among men, and is walloping Obama among NASCAR voters. Joe the Plumber may get his license after all. Obama's lead among women declined, and it looks like it is occurring because McCain is solidifying the support of conservative women, which is something we saw last time McCain picked up in the polls. If McCain has a good day tomorrow, we will eliminate Obama's good day three days ago, and we could really see some tightening in this rolling average. But for now, hold on."

If McCain wins Ohio and neighboring Pennsylvania, he wins America.

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