October 2012 Archives

James O'Keefe's latest sting operation against Democrats has hit the voter fraud jackpot as he catches a congressman's son coaching the stinger on how to forge utility bills and vote illegally.

In the video, O'Keefe's plant tells Moran that he has a pile of names of inactive voters. The plant wants to drive a van around and vote for them. Because Virginia's voter ID law is a joke, and a utility bill will suffice, the plant intends to use phony utility bills. Moran suggests ways to advance the scheme, including forgery using Microsoft Word.

Enter the "election protection" efforts of the civil rights groups. In case these phony utility bills create a stir inside the polls, Moran has the solution - the army of left-wing lawyers who will be embedded inside the polls from groups like the ACLU, the NAACP, and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights.

Every person should be required to show a photo identification card to cast a vote. This is common sense stuff.

Also note: if there are any Republicans out there doing this kind of thing you'd better stop it right now. Voter fraud is a serious crime and I hope that we catch and prosecute as many fraudsters as possible.

Is a "mega-storm" bigger than a hurricane? Perhaps... Sandy is shaping up to be "historic", so us political geeks should pay attention to what the weather nerds are saying.

There is a consensus forming in weather forecast models that hurricane Sandy is unlikely to go out to sea. Instead, it more likely will merge with a strong fall cold front and transition into a powerhouse, possibly historic mid-latitude storm along the mid-Atlantic and/or Northeast coast Sunday through Wednesday. ...

As a hurricane transitions into a mid-latitude weather system, the storm's core tends to unwind. This means the most extreme winds around the storm's center diminish some, but very strong winds spread out over a larger distance, affecting a much broader region. In other words, sustained winds above tropical storm force (39 mph) will be possible for locations well-displaced from the storm's center, meaning a high power outage risk.

Severe inland flooding is another possibility. But again, it's impossible to pinpoint if/where this will occur. Recall that the inland flooding - as opposed to wind or storm surge - was the greatest cause of death and economic damage during hurricane Irene in 2011 bringing torrents to upstate New York and Vermont.

Finally, snow may be an issue at high elevation in the interior mid-Atlantic and Northeast as cold air pours down on the storm's west and southwest flank. Some models suggest over a foot of heavy, wet snow could fall in places like western Maryland and central and western Pennsylvania. This amount of snow on top of existing foliage could result in tremendous tree damage and power outages.

Significant infrastructure damage and other storm-related inconvenience could reduce voter turnout in the North-East.

  1. If more enthusiastic Republican voters turn out even more heavily than projected this will help Romney in New Hampshire and at least one of Maine's non-winner-takes-all districts.
  2. Depressed turnout in the North-East will increase the likelihood that Obama wins the electoral vote but not the popular vote.
  3. Storm damage will give Obama the opportunity to look "Presidential" right before the election.
  4. If the storm reaches natural disaster proportions the campaigns will need to re-calibrate their attacks on each other.

And of course if you live in the affected area you should be making preparations!

Newly released emails prove that Obama knew about the true nature of the Benghazi attack while it was in progress and then lied about it to America for weeks.

Three separate e-mails were sent to the White House on Sept. 11:
The first email, timed at 4:05 p.m. Washington time -- or 10:05 p.m. Benghazi time, 20-30 minutes after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission allegedly began -- carried the subject line "U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi Under Attack" and the notation "SBU", meaning "Sensitive But Unclassified."

The text said the State Department's regional security office had reported that the diplomatic mission in Benghazi was "under attack. Embassy in Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well."

The message continued: "Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four ... personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support."

A second email, headed "Update 1: U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi" and timed 4:54 p.m. Washington time, said that the Embassy in Tripoli had reported that "the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi had stopped and the compound had been cleared." It said a "response team" was at the site attempting to locate missing personnel.

A third email, also marked SBU and sent at 6:07 p.m. Washington time, carried the subject line: "Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack."

The message reported: "Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and has called for an attack on Embassy Tripoli."

Yet the president and his advisers repeatedly told us the attack was spontaneous reaction to the anti-Muslim video and that it lacked information suggesting it was a terrorist assault.

Obama should resign. This is so far beyond Watergate... it's a national disgrace.

Google Trekker takes Street View into the wilds, breaking ground for the future of virtual vacations.

Google is doing for the backcountry what it has done for cities and towns -- making digital maps that can be accessed on the go. Will it change the experience of the wilderness? NPR's Steve Henn travels to the Grand Canyon as Google engineers make their first trip with the Street View Trekker.

Google's Street View maps are headed into the backcountry. Earlier this week, two teams from Google strapped on sophisticated backpacks jammed with cameras, gyroscopes and other gadgets, and descended to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. But this is just the first step in the search giant's plan to digitally map and photograph the world's wild places.

It's not better than being there... yet....

I just got a haircut over lunch and my brain decided to merge the experience with the stone age tools I saw while on my honeymoon in Ireland! The result: stone age haircut! I want to carve a stone knife and see what kind of hair style can be made with it.

This was Romney's strategy for the third debate, and I think it went pretty well. This is the strategy of a campaigner who thinks he is winning and wants to maintain his trajectory. Romney avoided several opportunities to "zing" Obama, not least on Libya. Conservatives were drooling for Romney to deliver a rhetorical uppercut and KO the President, but Romney played it safe.

I have no doubt that Romney's calm, stable vibe was a conscious strategy. Look like a commander-in-chief; don't say anything dumb; don't act like a warmonger. I think Romney accomplished these goals. Did he set the bar high enough for himself? I guess we'll find out.

President Obama, on the other hand, really wanted to nail Romney as inexperienced on foreign policy, "reckless", and "all over the map" erratic. Obama needed people to see Romney as an unacceptable, ignorant, dangerous commander-in-chief. I don't think he accomplished this. The President said most of the right policy talking points, but I think his attacks on Romney fell flat because of the Governor's calm demeanor and steady responses. The "horses and bayonets" snark might work in the Oval Office against your subordinates, but I think Obama will rue that comment in the following days.

(Romney didn't make up the "number of ships" metric he used -- that's now the Navy measures itself and makes its requests. The numbers Romney quoted came from the Navy. What's more, our infantry still uses bayonets in combat and we've got millions of them; we even used horses in Iraq and Afghanistan, though certainly not as many as 100 years ago.)

So, who won? The President came on strong. However, I think that Romney achieved his goals and Obama did not. It's a mistake to assume that both campaigns are aiming at the same target in each debate -- they're not. Each candidate uses each debate to achieve a strategic goal, not just to "win" on rhetorical points. So in that light, I'm going to call the debate a win for Romney.

Someone tell President Obama that we still use millions of bayonets.

I recommend reading the whole post by Sarah A. Hoyt about "The Myth that Kills, and please direct your wrath towards her, not me!

What I see is women who were freed by tech advances and who THINK they were freed by marching shoulder to shoulder and taking permanent offense. These women live in a state of paranoia, dreaming up male privilege that is invisible to anyone but them, and taking offense at ever more ridiculous things - even things that have nothing to do with gender - because they're so terrified of men taking the upper hand again.

I look at them going to war with spelling: Womyn, Herstory. I look at them dancing around dressed as vaginas (!) because apparently the most important thing in these women's lives is their sexual organs. I look at them acting as a pack and attacking whoever they're told to attack because "so and so is anti-woman" and I think... these are humans? These are civilized people? Don't they see they're being tools of the Marxist divide-and-conquer strategy? Don't they see the end of this is either societal destruction or TRUE backlash for the sake of saving civilization?

We need to treat people as individuals, not merely as members of easily labelled groups based on physical characteristics. The groups that an individual self-identifies with are far more important than the groups they're forced into by biology. Choosing to join a group (and/or remain in a group past childhood) says a lot about an individual. All the biological groupings are fine for evolutionary biologists and statisticians, but rotten for everyday use by the rest of us.

I've been calling a Romney landslide ever since he sewed up the nomination, and the polls look favorable for my prediction.

Obama winning only 85% of black vote. Back in June I wrote that black voters should consider Republicans in 2012, so I'll take partial credit for Obama's declining approval.

Obama's firewall is collapsing. The President's path to re-election is narrowing every day.

I know we're constantly admonished to "don't get cocky", but....

Were Candy Crowley and President Obama conspiring to ambush Mitt Romney at the second debate?

Watching it unfold on live TV it did not seem right. It was awkwardly and comfortably scripted, and too smooth in execution. But watching it on replay the agenda filled manipulation was obvious. It appears Candy Crowley and CNN together with the Obama Administration scripted the Libyan injection into the Presidential Debate.

I'm not just talking about Candy Crowley interjecting on behalf of President Obama, and interrupting Mitt Romney, I mean the whole segment seemed like it was a set up.

Well, I certainly wouldn't think Obama above this sort shenanigans, but it seems too risky. I think James Taranto's explanation of how Crowley was manipulated by David Axelrod and Obama is more likely.

Here's what almost certainly happened: After the interview, Axelrod, or someone else from the campaign, called Crowley's attention to the White House transcript. She read the relevant portion and conceded that Axelrod was right: Obama had called the attack an act of terror. As we wrote yesterday, such an interpretation was reasonable, although it was a matter of opinion because the president's statement was ambiguous. Obama was briefed on all this during his debate preparation.

If this surmise is correct, then Crowley knew about the "acts of terror" Easter egg hidden in Obama's Sept. 12 speech, and Obama knew she knew. Romney did not know and was as incredulous as Crowley had been, because the administration had spent weeks peddling the claim that the video dunnit. Obama brought the matter up expecting incredulity from Romney and backup from Crowley. She therefore unwittingly played her role in Obama's little ambush of his opponent. She was just clarifying the facts--or so Axelrod & Co. had led her to believe.

In this scenario Crowley was a manipulated dupe rather than an accomplice. Neither role showers her with glory.

Seems like Romney's decimation of Obama in their first debate might be the only October surprise we're going to see this year. If President Obama is holding on to a card that he hopes will stall Governor Romney's momentum now is the time to play it. It takes time for even powerful news to percolate through the electorate, and Obama will want to give the surprise enough of a lead that when he brings it up during the final debate next Monday the audience will know what he's talking about.

John Tierney says that Advanced Placement classes and tests are a scam. These paragraphs stand out to me because they reflect my experience:

AP courses are not, in fact, remotely equivalent to the college-level courses they are said to approximate. Before teaching in a high school, I taught for almost 25 years at the college level, and almost every one of those years my responsibilities included some equivalent of an introductory American government course. The high-school AP course didn't begin to hold a candle to any of my college courses. My colleagues said the same was true in their subjects.

The traditional monetary argument for AP courses -- that they can enable an ambitious and hardworking student to avoid a semester or even a year of college tuition through the early accumulation of credits -- often no longer holds. Increasingly, students don't receive college credit for high scores on AP courses; they simply are allowed to opt out of the introductory sequence in a major. And more and more students say that's a bad idea, and that they're better off taking their department's courses.

I took eight AP courses in high school (if I'm remembering right) and passed all my AP tests. In 1995 I did receive credit for those courses at UCLA as well as being allowed to skip many introductory classes. Because of my AP chemistry test score I didn't have to take any chemistry classes at UCLA, even though I was an engineering student. (I was excited at the time, but now I regret missing exposure to college chemistry.)

At least two of these AP classes were harmful to me: Calculus AB and Calculus BC. Because I aced these AP tests I received credit for two introductory quarters of calculus and was skipped straight to the third calc class of the series. I struggled to make sense of the course content and was relieved to pass the class with a C-. The two AP calculus classes I had passed had left me completely unprepared for the material. I also received a C grade on my next math class before I figured out that I wasn't stupid, I was just way behind the other students. It took a lot of studying and make-up work for me to bring my grades and my comprehension up to an acceptable level.

Those were the only C grades I ever received in college, and I blame them on the Advanced Placement classes.

This is actually a pretty good primer on the differences between liberal and conservative political beliefs as the terms are actually used (rather than just in theory).

Global warming stopped 16 years ago.

The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week.

The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.

This means that the 'plateau' or 'pause' in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.

The new data, compiled from more than 3,000 measuring points on land and sea, was issued quietly on the internet, without any media fanfare, and, until today, it has not been reported.

This stands in sharp contrast to the release of the previous figures six months ago, which went only to the end of 2010 - a very warm year.

Ending the data then means it is possible to show a slight warming trend since 1997, but 2011 and the first eight months of 2012 were much cooler, and thus this trend is erased.

"Concern" for global warming is primarily an excuse to justify ever-increasing government control of energy and industry. For a portion of the left, global warming is also used to push a Luddite anti-technology agenda. These ulterior motives will be unaffected by the science and will continued to be believed and pursued by faith.

Kevin DuJan explains why you never cross the Clintons.

I fully expect Hillary Clinton to do something to retaliate against both Jay Carney personally and also Joe Biden in the next few weeks. She'll do it before the election...but won't touch Obama until after he's defeated, in which case I'm sure a lot of things will miraculously be made available to the incoming Romney administration (and its Justice Department) that were supposed to be shredded or buried in vaults somewhere. Ooops! Remember: Hillary Clinton can never do anything that harms Obama because she needs black people for her 2016 campaign...and the only thing that can keep her from being the nominee in 2016 is if she doesn't have the support of blacks. Being Secretary of State for the last four years was to show blacks that there was no hard feelings between Hillary and Obama and that all the racial rhetoric Obama churned up against the Clintons in the primaries should be forgotten. Hillary can't be the next nominee without blacks firmly behind her, and she knows it.

I'm so excited!

Added bonus: when will CIA Director General Petraeus weigh in? It's his agency that the Obama and Biden are blaming for the wrong information, and there are few people with more stature and gravitas. Would you be eager to pick a fight with the Clintons and the most popular and successful living general?

I'm a Christian and I go to church every Sunday. My pastor is doing a series now on what it means to be a Christian and a citizen of the United States. He has never endorsed a candidate, and has explicitly said many times that his job isn't to push people to make certain political decisions.

So, "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" is misguided. The participants claim that their free speech rights are being violated because pastors can't endorse political candidates while simultaneously operating their churches tax-free. They want to have both, but why should they expect to? Being exempt from taxes and being able to receive tax-deductible donations is a pretty huge subsidy, so it isn't particularly offensive to me that society asks something in return.

The strongest argument in favor of the "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" protest is the fact that public employee unions are 100% funded from tax dollars (forcibly passed through public employees) and are still allowed to endorse candidates. Why not level the playing field and prevent all taxpayer-funded organizations from political activity?

As for the pastors participating in this protest, I think they'd do best to focus on sharing the gospel and God's Word. Jesus certainly engaged with the political leaders of his day, but he always kept his eye focused on winning spiritual victories.

Paul Ryan did reasonably well in last night's vice presidential debate. He was evasive a couple of times, but the biggest obstacle to his communication was Joe Biden, who was channeling The Joker with all the psycho mania he could summon.

Ryan maintained his calm and spewed facts, but the most effective parts of his performance were two personal stories, one about how his family benefited from social programs and one about Mitt Romney's generosity. Ryan successfully defused any accusations that he wants to shred Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid by describing how he, his mom, and his grandmother benefited from the programs and how he wants to protect them and ensure they're around for future generations. Ryan was also demonstrated a solid understanding of foreign policy and a quick wit.

Why did Ryan need to be fast on his feet?

Joe Biden was a clown -- a mean, condescending clown. His performance created a pervasive atmosphere of discomfort and anxiety that emanated from the television screen. He was an egotistical, smirking, interrupting jackhole. He was a total drama queen who could barely contain his faux-rage that Ryan was allowed to speak even one sentence. I don't even remember anything Joe Biden said, because it was completely overshadowed by his bizarre and off-putting behavior. I've read in numerous places that Biden was well-liked by Democrats and Republicans and one of the most popular members of Congress, so I think he knows how to behave in public. His performance tonight was an act that went way beyond what was necessary to counter President Obama's weak performance last week.

The substance of the debate won't change many minds, but it was still a win for Romney and Ryan because it was yet another unfiltered look at the Republican pair. Ryan was solid, patient, and calm in the face of Biden's angry theatrics. He didn't get sucked into the whirlpool of emotion created by our Vice President. I expect that the reaction by women will be strongly in favor of Ryan over Biden. Heck, there's no one who would voluntarily spend a single second in the same room with the Joe Biden we saw tonight.

Proverbs 29:9 "If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet."

Obama's lies about the attacks in Libya are bad enough, but why hasn't America yet responded?

It took less than four weeks after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, for the Bush administration to gather intelligence, plan the full-scale invasion of Afghanistan and begin executing Operation Enduring Freedom. By October 7, 2001, multinational forces from the United States, Britain and Australia were on the ground, linking up with friendly Afghan forces, overthrowing the Taliban and driving al-Qaeda from the haven from which they had attacked our country. ...

This is not to suggest an invasion of Libya. But certainly by now we could have identified the groups responsible for the attack, targeted their compounds and retaliated in some fashion. Heck, the Libyan people have done more to retaliate than Obama has. The Associated Press reports that a few days after the attack, "Hundreds of protesters seized control of several militia headquarters ... including the compound of one of Libya's strongest armed Islamic extremist groups, evicting militiamen and setting fire to buildings as the attack that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans sparked a backlash against armed groups."

What kind of signal does it send when a Libyan mob does more to avenge the killing of an American ambassador than the president of the United States?

Our enemies need to learn that they cannot attack us and kill us with impunity. We need to respond to violence with violence. We must kill our enemies, because they're eager to kill us.

James O'Keefe captures video of a paid Obama campaign staffer assisting an undercover "volunteer" to vote twice. The gold is at the end:

The new O'Keefe video raises the question - how many other undercover videographers have penetrated the Obama campaign? O'Keefe obviously reached the heart of one operation. Who knows how many more Obama campaign offices are full of "volunteers" on the lookout for criminal behavior by other Obama campaign staffers?

O'Keefe provides a clue and taunts journalists, daring them to call this an "isolated incident."

(HT: J. Christian Adams.)

Despite my penchant for privacy I don't really have a problem with using tracking devices on kids at school as long as the parents consent.

A school district in Texas came under fire earlier this year when it announced that it would require students to wear microchip-embedded ID cards at all times. Now, students who refuse to be monitored say they are feeling the repercussions.

Since October 1, students at John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School in San Antonio, Texas, have been asked to attend class with photo ID cards equipped with radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips to track every pupil's location. Educators insist that the endeavor is being rolled out in Texas to stem the rampant truancy devastating the school's funding.

Obviously kids don't want to be tracked because they want to be truant without getting caught. If the students are minors and the parents consent to the tracking, then I've got no problem with it at all. Seems like a great idea.

When I get grumpy it's this.

Shinya Yamanaka was just awarded a Nobel Prize (shared with John Gurdon) for his work creating "induced pluripotent stem cells" from adult cells without killing embryos. This piece by William Saletan highlights Yamanaka's moral victory which was as important as his scientific accomplishment.

In the introduction to their Cell paper, Yamanaka and his colleagues outlined their reasons for seeking an alternative to conventional embryonic stem-cell research. "Ethical controversies" came first in their analysis. Technical reasons--the difficulty of making patient-specific embryonic stem cells--came second. After the paper's publication, Yamanaka told a personal story, related by the New York Times:
Inspiration can appear in unexpected places. Dr. Shinya Yamanaka found it while looking through a microscope at a friend's fertility clinic. ... [H]e looked down the microscope at one of the human embryos stored at the clinic. The glimpse changed his scientific career. "When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters," said Dr. Yamanaka ... "I thought, we can't keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way."

Sacrificing the lives of unborn children to treat adults is evil, and thanks to Shinya Yamanaka we don't need to debate the matter any more.

The Obama campaign raised a record $181 million in September and is trumpeting the claim that most of the money is from small donors. However, it seems likely that many of the the "small donors" are actually robo-donors operated for foreigners. There are two key facts in this report.

The unusual Obama.com website redirects traffic directly to a donation page on the Obama campaign's official website, my.barackobama.com, which does not require donors tob enter their credit card security code (known as the CVV code), thereby increasing the likelihood of foreign or fraudulent donations. The website is managed by a small web development firm, Wicked Global, in Maine. One of Wicked Global's employees, Greg Dorr, lists on his LinkedIn page his additional employment with Peace Action Maine and Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights. According to the GAI report, 68 percent of all Internet traffic to Obama.com comes from foreign visitors.

What are the implications?

Because of the lack of a CVV code requirement, the door is opened for OFA to accept robo-donations, or in other words, large numbers of small and automatic donations made online to evade FEC reporting requirements. Although it isn't illegal to decline the use of a secure CVV credit card code for campaign donations, it is illegal to accept campaign donations from foreign sources. Campaigns are required under criminal code not to solicit, accept or receive foreign donations in any amount. The Federal Elections Commission doesn't require campaigns to disclose the names of donors making contributions of less than $200 unless audited. In addition, FEC rules don't require campaigns to keep records of those giving less than $50. These rules combined with the lack of a CVV numbers make it easy for campaigns to get away with taking foreign donations.

So maybe the Obama campaign just made an oversight?

Not to mention, the campaign obviously sees the benefits in using a CVV code to prevent fraud. After all, OFA uses a CVV security code for merchandise purchases. To purchase a sweatshirt or other item in the OFA store, a CVV code must be entered at check out, but the donation page does not require a credit card security code to be used. In addition, the chief technology officer of the Obama campaign, Harper Reed, is a former chief technology officer of the T-shirt company Threadless. Threadless requires a CVV code for online purchases. They clearly know how CVV codes work.

This controversy would have been easy to avoid if the Obama campaign had simply flipped the switch to require CVV numbers for donations like the vast majority of retailers and charities do. The Obama campaign instead left this door open as an invitation to fraudulent donors. The questions are: is there any proof of actual fraudulent donations (rather than just the likelihood), and did President Obama know about it?


Setting forest fires is one of several terrorism tactics that many people have hesitated to mention because no one wants to give al-Qaeda any ideas.

"One should note that setting fires to forests in the countries of the European Union is a new tendency in al-Qaeda's strategy of a 'thousand cuts'," Alexander Bortnikov said, according to state news agency RIA Novosti, at a meeting of heads of security agencies.

"This method allows (al-Qaeda) to inflict significant economic and moral damage without serious preliminary preparations, technical equipment or significant expenses."

It's hard to prove arson, and it's hard to catch the arsonists when the fires themselves aren't discovered for a long time after they're started. There's no reason this tactic wouldn't work in America, if it hasn't already and we just don't know it.

We returned from our honeymoon just in time to see the first presidential debate! My quick reaction: Romney won by a mile.

Romney was clear, fairly detailed, and didn't get flustered. He should learn to control his motions while he's not talking however... it looked like he was bursting to speak rather than listening to Obama.

Obama rambled. He used the boom of the 1990s to try to justify his bid for re-election. When Romney was speaking directly to him, Obama stared down at the floor. A poor showing.

I can't wait to read the analysis tomorrow morning!

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