Friday, August 31, 2007


Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to Drungo Hazewood:

A fascinating note in Jay Nordlinger's always-informative Impromptus:
[In Salzburg] I met a man whose store was established in 1656 — exactly 100 years before Mozart (whose home is just a few steps away from the shop). Would you like to know what the shop’s original phone number was? 9. That’s right: one digit: 9. (The shop, incidentally, is R. F. Azwanger, where you can pick up booze and meats.)

I have known people who once had six-digit phone numbers, and heard tales of five-digit numbers, but one digit? Now there are people who have ten phone numbers of their own. I'm not so sure that's progress, and indeed there are now services which will forward all of your phone numbers to a single phone so I must not be the only one.


I'm still stunned that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer stuck with their idiotic decision not to publish photos of two men whom the FBI had requested help in identifying after they were repeatedly seen "exhibit[ing] unusual behavior" on Washington State Ferries (the Seattle Times also refused to run them the first day before common sense set in). It's hard to imagine their thought process in obstructing law enforcement in investigating a potentially deadly threat to some of their readers for no reason other than mindless political correctness.

It's not like the FBI would take such an unusual action lightly after missteps in the past (Richard Jewell, anybody?). If the men are innocent it would be to their benefit to clear themselves, and the public at large would benefit no matter the outcome by either having two terrorists taken off the streets or by finding out that the ferries are safe after all. It boggles the mind that an entity purportedly devoted to serving the public interest could behave so irresponsibly.

Managing editor David McCumber's comment is telling: "I understand that people have a hard time with the concept that we get to decide what is news and what isn't [...]." McCumber is outraged that readers would ask the paper, even for a minute, to set aside the promotion of its political agenda to act in the public interest. Just incredible, and yet another example of the decline and fall of the American newspaper.


Move over Shawn Kemp, there's a new sheriff in town. Broncos RB Travis Henry has fathered nine children by nine different women in (at least) four states! And it turns out that Henry "isn't the most thrifty guy" either, which comes as a shock given that he's so responsible in other areas of his life.

I still wish I had gotten him in my fantasy draft...


For all of human history various the poor have struggled to get enough food to make it to the next day. Now, obesity is epidemic among the American poor. That one of the greatest dangers facing our poor is that they eat too much speaks volumes about this country.


I find it truly bizarre that an NFL assistant coach, in this case East Texas State's own Wade Wilson, was suspended five games and fined $100 grand for steroids. I can understand (even if I disagree with) the rationale for not wanting players to do PED's, but what possible harm to the game could come from coaches doing them? An epidemic of deafness as they blow their whistles too loud?

All I know is if you plan on attending an NFL game this year I'd stop cycling right now, they seem to be testing everybody.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Truer words were never spoken

The execrable Bill Moyers has gotten himself into some hot water for an over the top hate rant against Karl Rove, including a fabrication that Rove is agnostic. Chris Wallace had the brilliant idea to actually ask Rove about his religious beliefs. And Moyer, and I'm not making this up, proceeded to attack Wallace for believing Rove himself over Moyers' hit squad hearsay on the subject of Rove's own beliefs. Moyer has become such a mindless hate monger that he defies parody, the reality sounds more ridiculous than anything one could make up, and his vicious tirades are issued on your dime. Wallace has his number in this video excerpt:

"There comes a time, it seems to me, when a man has been so utterly discredited as a hateful ignoramus that, not only should he be shunned by all people of good will, he should even be cut off from taxpayer subsidies. Is there anything--anything at all--that is too low for PBS to countenance?"

Hear, hear, let's get this former-journalist-now-Michael-Savage-wannabe off the public dole.

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A man after my heart

I haven't even begun to think about who I will support for president in 2008, because after all it is 2007, but this quote from Rudy Giuliani is very encouraging:

"I'€™ve seen how pro-growth policies lead to broader prosperity. We'€™ll not only keep the current tax cuts in place or their equivalent, we'€™ll enact additional tax relief and give the Death Tax the death penalty. High tax rates hurt business and destroy jobs. I know that tax cuts are good for the economy. It's not just theory for me because I cut taxes and got results as Mayor of New York City. As President, I will cut taxes further."

That kind of thinking is pretty much a prerequisite for me to even consider a given candidate.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

The perils of "free" health care

A telling post from Don Surber of the Toronto Globe and Mail:

The Dionne quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934, to a humble, French-speaking couple in a farmhouse outside of Callander, Ontario, Canada. They were identical sisters and for the first 10 years of their lives, the five girls were the No. 1 tourism attraction in Canada.

Then came free health care for all Canadians. Which is why the four identical Jepp sisters were born in Great Falls, Mont., instead of Calgary this weekend. The Canadian parents flew 325 miles to get to an American hospital. [...]

Their mother, Calgarian Karen Jepp, was transferred to Benefis Hospital in Montana last week when she began showing signs of going into labour, and no Canadian hospital had enough neonatal intensive-care beds for all four babies. [...]

It’s not like Great Falls, Mont., is a teeming metropolis. With 56,215 people, it is slightly larger than Charleston, W.Va. Calgary has more than a million people. [...]

There is a difference between health care and health insurance. In capitalistic America, the concentration is on health. In socialistic Canada, the emphasis is on paying the bills. [...]

I’m sure most Canadians like their health system. Just remember, though, that Canada’s backup system is in Montana. Americans spend 15% of their income on health care. That’s why Great Falls has enough neo-natal units to handle quadruple births — and a “universal health” nation doesn’t.

After all, they didn’t fly Mrs. Jepp to Cuba, did they?

Two things are certain if we ever make our way to single-payer health care: total health care costs will go up, and the quality and availability of health care will go down. Socialized medicine has a perfect track record in those regards.

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Ideology as software

I have to pass on a genius analogy of political ideology to operating systems. In response to a story about some climate change protesters in London destroying Israeli property and raising a Palestinian flag, Tigerhawk advised "Lefties would make much more progress with the bourgeoisie if they promoted only one revolution at any given rally. We prefer to pick and choose our causes, rather than having them bundled together like pre-loaded software we do not want." Instapundit ran with it: "I like this: Leftism as Microsoft Vista -- promises a lot but doesn't deliver, and is kind of bossy. Meanwhile are rightie politics like Linux? You know, fairly efficient, but requiring more work than most people are willing to put in?"

This is right on the money. In general, leftist positions are pretty simple to get your arms around, because they are only concerned with motivations - save the planet, save the children, peace! Right wing positions require a little more depth, because they are concerned not with motivations but with results - will/did an action actually help the environment, help children or bring about peace, or did it do nothing or even the opposite (as is so often the case when government intervenes in anything). This intentions vs outcomes paradigm is, in my mind, the most fundamental difference between liberal and conservative ideology, and one that does not get nearly enough attention.

It's the reasoning behind the old saw that people are most conservative about those subjects they know best.

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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Odd post-Rove reaction

Karl Rove's retirement announcement drew reactions that ran the gamut from fawning admiration from some on the right to the usual profanity laced hate speech that his name usually invokes from some on the left. But something about this one from Barack Obama really caught my eye:

Karl Rove was an architect of a political strategy that has left the country more divided, the special interests more powerful, and the American people more shut out from their government than any time in memory. But to build a new kind of politics, it will take more than the departure of a man or even an Administration that constructed the old -it will take a movement of everyday Americans committed to changing Washington and reclaiming their government.

What strikes me is that the theme of Americans removed from the governing process comes on the heels of an incident that demonstrates exactly the opposite. We are not very far removed from a grass roots political movement unmatched by anything I can remember in my adult life, unless I'm missing something obvious.

I'm speaking, of course, of the bipartisan attempt to ram a "comprehensive immigration solution" bill, heavy on promises but light on guarantees that needed actions would actually occur, down the throats of the American public. The politicians assumed that we would just buy their bumper sticker style pronouncements on the bill, too dumb and/or uninformed to know what the it was really about and too lazy to research it for themselves.

Problem was, Americans had a long memory on this issue, having fallen for the same exact scam in 1986. And they were not going to fall for it again. So many calls poured into congressional phone banks that the system overloaded. The ones that did make it through, along with an avalanche of e-mails, made a lot of those who would have to face the voters in 2008 reconsider their support for this whole thing, and it ended up going from certain passage to inglorious defeat.

It was the rarest thing in politics - a national grass roots movement that mobilized so quickly and so forcefully that it scared the politicians into following the overwhelming will of the people even though they badly wanted not to. And it should put to rest any talk of Americans being unengaged, apathetic or powerless in the political process. When we're riled up, we can still get some things done.

The irony is that Rove and Obama were united on the wrong side of this issue, hands covering their tin ears.

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And now for something totally politically incorrect

The news: On the same day that shock jock Don Imus reached a reported $20 million settlement on his lawsuit against CBS, Rutgers women's basketball player Kia Vaughn filed a slander and defamation of character lawsuit in state Supreme Court in the Bronx.

Reaction: If only he had said "money-grubbing hos" he'd be in the clear.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Some headlines speak for themselves

On Hillary morphing from Eleanor Roosevelt as First Lady to Eva Peron as presidential candidate:

Dolley Madison had a decent rack

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Global warming killing seals, melting icebergs and glaciers!

The president needs to act quickly!

No, no, not President Bush, I mean President Harding:

D.C. resident John Lockwood was conducting research at the Library of Congress and came across an intriguing Page 2 headline in the Nov. 2, 1922 edition of The Washington Post: "Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt."

The 1922 article, obtained by Inside the Beltway, goes on to mention "great masses of ice have now been replaced by moraines of earth and stones," and "at many points well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared."

"This was one of several such articles I have found at the Library of Congress for the 1920s and 1930s," says Mr. Lockwood. "I had read of the just-released NASA estimates, that four of the 10 hottest years in the U.S. were actually in the 1930s, with 1934 the hottest of all."

I'll leave it to you presidential historians to ascertain how President Roosevelt reacted to the warmest decade in the history of recorded US temperatures. I'm guessing he held some swing music concerts and banned SUV's.

Seal could not be reached for comment on this post, but I'd welcome anything wife Heidi Klum might have to offer.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Great moments in chutzpah

This reads like a parody, but it seems to be an actual news story:

In a move that might make some people scratch their heads, a loosely formed coalition of left-leaning bloggers are trying to band together to form a labor union they hope will help them receive health insurance, conduct collective bargaining or even set professional standards. [...]

[Susie Madrak, the author of Suburban Guerilla blog, said] "Blogging is very intense -- physically, mentally," she said. "You're constantly scanning for news. You're constantly trying to come up with information that you think will mobilize your readers. In the meantime, you're sitting at a computer and your ass is getting wider and your arm and neck and shoulder are wearing out because you're constantly using a mouse."

So Madrak would like for others to pay for some or all of her medical expenses so that she might more comfortably engage in her hobby. Could anything more perfectly illustrate the entitlement mindset?

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Slandering the troops (I)

One of the most disturbing aspects of the antiwar movement is the use of fabricated atrocities to smear the US military. The sad irony is that the Vietnam antiwar movement caused more deaths than the Vietnam war itself, and the current Iraq antiwar movement seeks the same result three decades later, but I digress.

Fake atrocities have traditionally been used by governments and their sympathizers to demonize the enemy and mobilize support for wars. But since the late 1960’s they have been a preferred tactic of those who work against their government to sabotage support for wars. The intent is still to demonize the enemy, but for antiwar types the enemy is their own country. They seek to impugn the service of their soldiers as part of a larger attack on the traditions and values of their nation, which they typically seek to replace with the Utopian flavor of the day (communism, socialism, etc). The lie is most powerful when it is told by a soldier himself, lending it faux authenticity.

This phenomenon seems to be increasing with each war. Korean war vet Edward Lee Daily claimed decades later to have been a lieutenant, a POW, wounded in action, and present at a mass killing, all off which proved to be lies. John Kerry appeared in front of Congress to spout the now-infamous pack of lies (raping women, cutting off civilians’ ears, destroying villages like Genghis Khan) that jump-started his political career and may have, in an act of poetic justice, ultimately stopped that career short of its ultimate goal. Indeed, the entire book upon which the Winter Soldiers investigation was based proved to be a sham, all of the stories made up and many of them by men who never served in Vietnam at all.

The Iraq theater of the War on Terror has already featured more than its share of these smears. Marine Jimmy Massey has falsely accused his unit of genocide, claiming at various times to have killed children and other civilians, to have witnessed said killings, or to have merely heard stories of them – all lies. Jesse MacBeth and Micah Wright claimed to be Army Rangers who were involved with shooting children during parental interrogations, shooting protesters who were throwing rocks, and killing hundreds of innocent worshippers at a mosque – again, all lies.

And now comes the piece de resistance, Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp. Writing as Scott Thomas in a New Republic series called “Baghdad Diarist,” Beauchamp was too much of a coward to implicate himself in actual fake atrocities, so he settled for a safer fake narrative whereby fighting in Iraq so dehumanized him that he became a participant or an uncritical observer of some despicable acts.

In the Beauchamp fiction that has gotten the most play, he wrote of how he loudly made fun of a woman with severe facial scarring from an IED while eating with his friends: "I love chicks that have been intimate with IEDS. It really turns me on - melted skin, missing limbs, plastic noses. My friend was practically falling out of his chair laughing. The disfigured woman slammed her cup down and ran out of the chow hall."

Another Beauchamp tale concerned his unit finding the remains of children in a Saddam-era mass grave: "One private...found the top part of a human skull...He marched around with the skull on his head...No one was disgusted. Me included."

And just in case women and children don’t do it for you, Beauchamp threw in a fable for the animal lovers, telling of another friend "who only really enjoyed driving Bradley Fighting Vehicles because it gave him the opportunity to run things over. He took out curbs, concrete barriers, corners of buildings, stands in the market, and his favorite target: dogs. Since details help lies believable, he added an anecdote of the friend killing three dogs in one day: "He slowed the Bradley down to lure the first kill in, and, as the diesel engine grew quieter, the dog walked close enough for him to jerk the machine hard to the right and snag its leg under the tracks."

When it started to become apparent that the stories were a little, to be kind, light on facts, the New Republic launched some half-hearted fact-checking. As conservative bloggers identified the pseudonymous author as Beauchamp, the New Republic found that the first incident (if it happened at all) happened in Kuwait prior to Beauchamp ever going to Iraq. Thus the entire point of the narrative, that this decent man and his companions had become so dehumanized by the horrors of war, is self-evidently false right off the bat. If this happened (nobody at Camp Buehring remembers seeing such a woman), it had nothing to do with war, it was just a case of a low-life piece of crap human being who gets his rocks off by mocking the disfigured. I guess the “Fake, but accurate” defense has been replaced by “Fake, but inaccurate anyway so who cares?”

The other stories don’t hold up to scrutiny either. The child skull incident proved to be pure fantasy – no mass graves have been found in the time Beauchamp has been in the Baghdad area. And the Bradley-driving dog killer story isn’t even plausible – it would be physically impossible for the driver of that vehicle to see a dog to his immediate right, and the vehicles are not agile enough to make the kind of quick jerking move that is described. In the unlikely event that Beauchamp ever even witnessed a dog being run over, it was surely an accident.

So what we have is a guy who made things up out of whole cloth (and has apparently confessed it to military investigators), a fabulist suffering from what Michelle Malkin has coined “Winter Soldier Syndrome” and of whom Charles Krauthammer has said “We already knew from all of America's armed conflicts -- including Iraq -- what war can make men do. The only thing we learn from Scott Thomas Beauchamp is what literary ambition can make men say.” The interesting question is why would anybody lie in this way at all?

First and most obvious is that he’s an antiwar guy, and as we have seen so many times for this group the ends justify the means, whatever they might be and whoever might be hurt by the consequences. Secondly, as an antiwar guy he knows that he will find a sympathetic and gullible media establishment who will uncritically repeat his claims, as they reinforce their own biases and advance their own agendas, leading him to believe that he can get away with it. Publicly slandering the military can lead to fame and fortune, the antiwar industry is big business. Lucrative speaking gigs, free travel and an extravagant life on the road as well as a huge advance for a book deal are certainties. Becoming a cult hero, at least as long as one keeps doing what they’re told and does not stray off message (anybody remember Cindy Sheehan?), has to be inviting for somebody in such dire need of attention.

The problem for Beauchamp is that the left does not have the monopoly on the media that it had two decades ago. Alternative media, especially talk radio and bloggers, will fact-check such fantastic claims and publish them for the world to see. A few gullible souls will become a little more brainwashed, but anybody who seeks to be informed will come to the truth and most likely react in the opposite way from what was intended. But perhaps that’s beside the point, if you’re just looking for fame and fortune you know that there is a segment out there who will believe pretty much anything if it is anti-American and particularly anti-military enough (the New Republic continues to stick by much of what he wrote), why not take advantage of them? For a Scott Thomas Beauchamp, it’s a winning lottery ticket.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Blast from the past

This is a fascinating quote from a Power Line post on journalism:

"It is also true that The New York Times is not a crusading newspaper. It is impressed with the responsibility of what it prints. It is conservative and independent, and so far as possible -- consistent with honest journalism -- attempts to aid and support those who are charged with the responsibility of government. There are many newspapers conducted along different lines, some of them vicious, ill-natured, and destructive of character and reputation, and for mere purposes of sensation they frequently terrorize well qualified and well meaning men to the point where they are discouraged from accepting invitations to give their ability, genius, and experience to the administration of public affairs."

Your immediate reaction will probably be "Huh?" as this is the exact opposite of everything the hyperpartisan Times represents in 2007. And that reaction would be justified; the quote is from a 1931 letter written by then-publisher William Ochs. It is impossible to imagine a contemporary journalist thinking, much less saying, such a thing.

Would it be possible to better capture the decline of American journalism in recent decades?

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Say what?

Joe Biden, a marginal Democrat presidential candidate who has long been known for his confusing statements and malaprops, sometimes even disagrees with himself on an issue, as this hilarious passage from an alternative lifestyle advocacy website (via James Taranto) illustrates:

Biden is known for slips of the tongue, but in June he strongly supported the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell when he said in a debate, "I've been in these foxholes with these kids, literally in bunkers with them. Let me tell you something, nobody asked anybody else whether they're gay in those foxholes. Our allies--the British, the French, all our major allies--gays openly serve. I don't know the last time an American soldier said to a backup from a Brit, 'Hey, by the way, let me check. Are you gay? Are you straight?' This is ridiculous."

So Biden calls for an end to Bill Clinton's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy because he...thinks that soldiers should not ask or be expected to tell. And that's why we love the senior Senator from Delaware.

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The Kobe of the Disco Era

Henry Abbott passes on this excerpt from Mark Kriegel's biography Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich is jarring in that it could be written almost word for word about Kobe Bryant right now:

Pete responded to the ball movement critique on a November night in New York. The score remained close, despite the fact that he declined to put up a single shot in the fourth quarter. After the game, a fifth consecutive loss, an anonymous teammate took him to task in the press for "not making sacrifices."

"If they want me to sacrifice, I'll sacrifice," said Pete, who went 4 of 5 while handing out 15 assists in the next game, a win over Seattle. Then, a couple of nights later, he was back to his old self, scoring 39, including the game-winning basket with 15 seconds left on the clock.

To pass or to shoot? Given Pete's excessive nature, these pendulum swings can be seen as his attempt to find some balance in his game, and his life. As ever, Pete was a creature of contradictions. On one hand, as if bent on proving his critics right, he had taken to wearing a pendant with the emblem "ME 1st." On the other, his reputation for generosity among teammates was unrivaled.

The problem, at least as it manifested itself on the court, was that ever since high school, the best way for Pete's team to win had been for Pete to shoot. He took all the shots, just as he took the pressure. He had been on his own for so long he had to learn how to play well with others. "I don't think it was ever a question of Pete being selfish," says Baylor. "He just felt more confidence in his own ability to get the job done than [in] the others'. But I kept talking to him and talking to him and talking to him, and finally I got him to play in a way that was beneficial to the team. He was getting his teammates involved, not taking burden so much on himself, not trying to win games on his own."

As Henry notes:
Haven't we also watched Bryant stare down his critics with stretches when, just like Maravich, he refused to shoot? Isn't that quote from Baylor something we've heard reiterated in various forms a hundred times by those around Bryant?

I know Pete Maravich and Kobe Bryant are different players from different times. But I also know that Bryant and Maravich wrestle with some of the same demons.

I have not read the book and had not drawn the parallel between the two players, but it makes perfect sense now that I think about it. And it makes me want to read the book.

Now to find my leisure suit, gold chains and coke spoon, it's time to go dancin'!

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Barack to the wading pool for you, kid

Are you starting to get the feeling that Barack Obama is out of his depth in running for president? I don’t think he’s an idiot, like John Edwards (has anybody ever seen Edwards and Dan Quayle in the same place?), and I think he’s basically a good man even if I disagree with many of his policy positions, but he’s just not experienced and savvy enough for this stage at this point in his life.

Take his naïve promise to meet separately, without precondition, the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar al-Assad, Hugo Chavez, Fidel Castro, and Kim Jong Il respectively) during his first year in office, first stated in a debate and reinforced later so it is his actual position. Even the most casual of political observers knows that brutal tyrants like these would only meet with a high US official in order to score propaganda points and justify more oppression of their unfortunate populations. Yes, I know that Nancy Pelosi allowed herself to be used by Assad in just this manner, but having a stupid Speaker of the House does not preclude us from asking for some basic diplomatic competence from a presidential candidate.

Then there’s his pledge to invade Pakistan, a rare US ally in the radical Muslim world, in concert with withdrawing from Iraq. Never mind that such an action would weaken, and probably ultimately remove, President Musharraf and leave an Iran-style (and already nuclear!) fascist Muslim regime in his wake. In Obama’s mind, the creation of a jihadist state where radical mullahs have their fingers on nuclear triggers is a small price to pay if it paves the way for unilateral and unconditional surrender in Iraq. This would be mildly amusing if it appeared on some far left blog, but from a leading presidential candidate it is just sad. The thing is, Obama could have sponsored a resolution to send troops into Pakistan at any time; that he has not is a sign that this is just another twisted justification for insisting on US defeat in Iraq.

And don’t forget Obama’s disturbing contention that a genocide in Iraq (which everybody agrees is a strong possibility) would be an acceptable price to pay for a US pullout. James Taranto nailed the disturbing implications of using our inaction in the Congo and Darfur to justify this position:

[T]here is an obvious difference between taking an action that you believe is likely to bring about genocide (as Obama urges in Iraq) and refraining from taking action to prevent genocide--between omission and commission. An unstated Obama premise is that America, despite having intervened militarily in Iraq for nearly 17 years, has no responsibility to the Iraqis.

Worse, Obama's argument leaves no room for any kind of humanitarian intervention. He comes perilously close to arguing that it is worse to prevent one genocide while failing to prevent others than never to act against genocide at all. To put it kindly, this seems morally obtuse

Bottom line, Obama is a foreign policy novice whose childlike ideas on how to solve real world problems would be charming coming from a young student, but coming from an adult with presidential aspirations they reveal a man who is just not ready for prime time, and indeed a little scary. As I said, I think he’s a good man and has potential, but let’s back off until 2016 or so, shall we?

UPDATE 8/6/07: Pakastanis are even less enthused about Obama than I am.

UPDATE 8/9/07: Obama let loose another gem in the August 7 AFL-CIO forum: "I would immediately call the president of Mexico, the president of Canada to try to amend NAFTA." Not sure who the president of Canada is supposed to be, but my money's on Geddy Lee.

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