Goodnight, Mr. Newman:

We'll remember you this way:

Newman's two greatest films were in company with Robert Redford, the famous Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid and the less famous -- but equally good -- The Sting.

In both roles he played a criminal, one who used not violence but cleverness and charm to rob and steal. Indeed, his characters attempted to use their talents to limit the violence inherent in the world they inhabit.

In life, he used his cleverness and charm instead to create charitable foundations. Here as in the films, he used his talent to limit the hardships that inhabit the world.

UPDATE: Greyhawk adds some details I didn't know: that Mr. Newman was a torpedo plane gunner and radioman in WWII's Pacific theater. He was decorated with the American Area Campaign Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

Some Economics:

Ten minutes, but worth it if you haven't seen it:

If, like me, you are spinning up on things like "Credit Default Swaps" for the first time, you may find this post helpful.


The First Debate:

It appears that the general consensus is that your guy won, whoever 'your guy' is. Obama supporters point to the focus groups, which suggest that he did well among undecideds, chiefly because they liked his economic answers better, and the economy is big-time #1 on people's minds right now. The actual subject of the debate, foreign policy, was a McCain winner.

Sixty-six percent of uncommitted voters think Obama would make the right decisions about the economy. Forty-two percent think McCain would.

Forty-eight percent of these voters think Obama would make the right decisions about Iraq. Fifty-six percent think McCain would.
So, what are the 'right decisions' about the economy that Sen. Obama stated he would make? Well, spending: 'spend, spend, spend, no freeze on spending, and here's a few more spending programs I'd like to do.'

The problem is, that decision is at variance with basic reality. Assuming there is no bailout bill, the economy could turn south in a severe and lasting way, drying up the taxpayer pool. Assuming that there is a bailout bill in the next little while, the government's capacity for such new spending is going to be quite limited. Once we've added $700B to this week's budget, just where is this additional money coming from? McCain's approach -- that we will need to cut or at least freeze spending levels on noncritical programs -- is not just right, it's necessary. There is no alternative.

McCain supporters point to the fact that Obama got flustered numerous times, and was clearly out of his depth on foreign policy issues. The problem for Sen. McCain here is that no one is thinking about foreign policy this week. However, if the bailout gets credit flowing and things start to improve financially, attention may return to it before the election -- this is a store of goods that may yet prove more valuable.

First impressions of the debate are rarely lasting. Given time to reflect, things that sounded good at first may sour. McCain's campaign would do well to hammer not just the point they've been hammering -- that Sen. Obama said 'McCain is absolutely right' a bunch of times -- but also the point that there is just no way that Sen. Obama can actually do what he's claiming he will do economically.

Sen. Obama's response to economic distress is to ramp up spending in every area. This isn't merely 'countercyclical' economics: we're getting that with the $700B bailout. Trying to stack vast new spending on top of that is a refusal to admit to reality.

Finally, a number of people are talking about the OODA Loop again:
John McCain out-thought Barack Obama early on, and increased that throughout the debate.

I don't pretend to know if John McCain is smarter than Barack Obama, but in their first head-to-head, it was clear that thinks faster on his feet.

Looking back through the campaign season at the various "3 A.M." moments and the candidate's reactions, this doesn't appear to be an isolated event.
As we've discussed before, Sen. McCain's reported IQ is reasonably high: at 133, in the 98th percentile. It wouldn't be at all surprising if he were more intelligent than Sen. Obama, because he'd be more intelligent than most people.

That doesn't necessarily translate into votes. Still, Sen. McCain manages to be intelligent without being pretentious, and that can be powerful with voters. No one wants a dunce for a President, but they also don't want someone who thinks he knows better than they do how to run their lives.

Message for tonight: the economy is #1, and for now voters haven't realized just how big $700B is, and how it will cut into future government spending. We can't have it all, and will have to prioritize. Sen. McCain promised to do that. Sen. Obama refused.

Foreign policy is almost considered a distraction at this point, but it will be important in the next term. On that ground, Sen. McCain is vastly superior.


Grim's Hall Movie Club: Broken Arrow

I would like to nominate this movie, available online for free, as the newest entry. Let us discuss it on Monday.



FbL at The Castle points to this story:

CBS New anchor Katie Couric ordered staff to drop all references to "Governor" or "Gov." from her interview with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. When a staff member pointed out that in other venues, Couric and CBS News had referred to Governor Palin's opponent, Joe Biden, using his title of "Senator" or the abbreviation, Couric, according to a CBS News editorial aide, sought approval from CBS News management to drop the "Governor" reference during her broadcast interview with Palin that began on Wednesday night.
FbL says, "[Y]ou gotta laugh at the smallness of it all."

Maybe. Even I refer to Sen. Obama with his title, and I have come to despise him and think him unfit to speak in the company of men. In spite of my powerful feelings of disdain, however, I don't deny him the honor given him by the people of Illinois.

Gov. Palin is treated with a special hate by the media. It's not the "Liberal Media," either: it's the Beltway conservative media as well. It's the media generally.

You would be hard pressed to find a journalist whose actual accomplishments in life were half of hers. They may be able to speak eloquently on a given subject, whether it is the difference between Sunnis and Shi'ites or the exact calibrations of the various Bush Doctrines. Yet which of them has accomplished so much, or half so much?

Forgive them, though, if they don't feel she merits even her current title -- the one already achieved in an honest election. Forgive them, for they know better than the people of Alaska, or than us.

Obama Gardens

"Obama Gardens"

I like Hot Air's take on this story as well. As a state senator, Obama got a hundred grand from taxpayers to build a botanical garden in his district:

A $100,000 state grant for a botanic garden in Englewood that then-state Sen. Barack Obama awarded in 2001 to a group headed by a onetime campaign volunteer is now under investigation by the Illinois attorney general amid new questions, prompted by Chicago Sun-Times reports, about whether the money might have been misspent.

The garden was never built. And now state records obtained by the Sun-Times show $65,000 of the grant money went to the wife of Kenny B. Smith, the Obama 2000 congressional campaign volunteer who heads the Chicago Better Housing Association, which was in charge of the project for the blighted South Side neighborhood.
Smith wrote another $20,000 in grant-related checks to K.D. Contractors, a construction company that his wife, Karen D. Smith, created five months after work on the garden was supposed to have begun, records show. K.D. is no longer in business.
Eighty-five percent of the funds wound up going no farther than the pockets of Obama’s campaign volunteer. Chris Fusco and Dave McKinney track down the contractor who supposedly got most of this funding to find out what happened. He told the Sun-Times reporters that he only was asked to cut down a few trees and to grade the surface of the park, which would have been overpriced at $3,000. So what happened to the other $82,000? No one knows, and the Smiths don’t have any explanation.


The McCain/Clinton Economic Recovery Act of 2008:

What are the prospects for Senator McCain -- the most successful Senator in living memory at reaching across the aisle -- will provoke a compromise bill that will please both parties and pass the Congress at this time? I think you can look at these statements for some evidence:

[Bill Clinton], just a week after calling McCain a “great man” and mere hours before stressing how “personally, profoundly honored” he is to have him speak at his charity....

The best part of this isn’t the “good faith” bit but his point — which he repeats, so that no one misses it — that Maverick actually wanted more debates, not less. That’ll be a handy riposte tomorrow if McCain ends up skipping out and the left starts accusing him of being scared.
So, which is more likely: that McCain and Sen. Clinton will be the ones who put together the compromise bill (next week's headline today: "Markets Soar as McCain/Clinton Act Signed Into Law")? Or that the threat of such a bill will push Reid, Pelosi et al into a compromise today?

Mother on Palin

A Southern Lady on the Media and Sarah Palin:

About once an election cycle I mention my mother, whose views on politics always interest me. She is one of those undecided voters most years, a swing voter who can be persuaded to support either candidate usually until the last (and even then, with some uncertainty: as she said tonight, she is glad that there are millions of others also casting votes, as she doesn't want to be the one who decides for us all).

She's still not at all sure who she'll vote for this year, but she was not happy with the way that CBS treated Sarah Palin. Two excerpts will explain her irritation. One, from Couric's interview with Palin:

Couric: If this doesn't pass, do you think there's a risk of another Great Depression?

Palin: Unfortunately, that is the road that America may find itself on. Not necessarily this, as it's been proposed, has to pass or we're going to find ourselves in another Great Depression. But, there has got to be action - bipartisan effort - Congress not pointing fingers at one another but finding the solution to this, taking action, and being serious about the reforms on Wall Street that are needed.
And two, from Couric's interview with McCain:
Couric: Earlier today, senator, I spoke with your running mate, Sarah Palin, and she told me that if action is not taken a Great Depression is, quote, "The road that America may find itself on." Do you agree with that assessment?

McCain: I don't know … if it's exactly the Depression. But I know of no expert, including Mr. Bernanke, the head of the Federal Reserve, and our secretary of treasury, and the outside observers ... every respected economist … in this country is saying, "You better address this problem, and you better do it now, or the consequences, obviously, of inaction are of the utmost seriousness." So I agree … with Gov. Palin. There's so much at stake here. That's why I am confident that we'll sit down and work together on this thing.

Couric: But isn't so much of this, Sen. McCain, about consumer confidence?

McCain: Sure.

Couric: And using rhetoric like the "Great Depression," is that the kind of language Americans need to hear right now?
Well, Katie, is it? You brought it up.

The AP went hook, line and sinker, of course.

Now that's a Priest

"May God Defend the Right"

A priest in Australia was confronted by a robber with a knife who had broken into the church. After the backside-kicking, the robber said: "I only wanted money … you're a priest and you're not helping."

The priest told the press, "I thought: 'I'm a priest but that's not the kind of help [we should give].'"

Oh -- and the priest is 72.

H/t: FARK.

An Argument in Pictures

An Argument in Pictures:

Via Southern Appeal, two pictures that accompanied an endorsement.

What's great about these images is that they work no matter which side you're on. If you are a liberal who wanted to endorse Sen. Obama as a sensitive, caring, gentle soul with echoes of Lincoln -- and to reject Gov. Palin as a bloodthirsty monster -- it works for you.

On the other hand, if you're a conservative who wants to endorse Gov. Palin as an outdoorswoman, mother and huntress -- and reject Sen. Obama as a pretentious light-in-the-loafers sucker apt to be run over by terrorists and Iranian nuke-mongers -- it works for you too. The same two pictures encapsulate everything that supporters love, and everything opponents detest, about the two candidates.

You can't say we don't have a clear choice this year. Except that, again, Gov. Palin is running for vice president -- an office that Sen. Obama is somewhat more qualified for than the one he has chosen to seek.

Obama: Already the President

Obama: Already the President

Dad29 points us to Obama's new coinage.

Democrats have begun striking coins with Barack Obama’s profile — and already proclaiming him President.... The coins show Senator Obama’s face, along with a picture of the White House and the legend “President of the United States of America”.
The link points to Hot Air, which says: "Barack Obama may be the first person in history to start striking coins in his image before taking power. Maybe he just wants to look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills[.]"

Yeah, maybe.


In Praise of Larry Munson:

Some of you probably saw this in the comments, but Mike informs us of the retirement of the voice of the Bulldogs. Larry Munson is the kind of announcer who never made any pretense to objectivity, but loved his team and the game with unreserved passion. Autumn won't be the same without him. He is 86, so we understand, but today is a sad day for football in America.



Fulton County, home of the Atlanta public school system:

H/t: FAILblog.

Confed Yank

Confederate Yankee on Rape Kits:

You know how Gov. Palin supposedly required victims to pay for their own rape kits?

Yeah, well, no. Her city picked up the cost even before the Alaska law requiring them to do so went into effect.

See the comments to his post also.



It was back in June when we talked about Georgia:

It is probably a sign of things to come that the Obama campaign is talking about winning without Ohio or Florida. I'm sure they intended that as a sign of confidence, but it's a remarkable formula -- 'We don't necessarily need to win battleground states, because we'll win red states.'

Consider the conceit that Georgia is 'in play,' for example. I live in Georgia. I've spent most of my life in Georgia. The suggestion that Obama will win Georgia is just whistling past the graveyard. It's never going to happen.
Today via Cassidy and Mary Katherine Ham, an observation:
Earlier, Obama halted television advertising in Georgia. Idaho was conceded a Democratic write-off early on, as is Alaska now, given the presence of its popular Republican Gov. Sarah Palin as the vice presidential running mate on the GOP ticket.
Let's take a little broader perspective on that.
Republican presidential nominee John McCain leads Democratic rival Barack Obama by 10 percentage points, 51 percent to 41 percent, among rural voters in 13 pivotal states, a poll released on Monday shows.
We won't be seeing any Red States go blue this year. We may see some swing states go blue: that's still to be determined. But the concept that Sen. Obama was a transformational politician is dead. If he wins, he'll win the hard way -- just like everyone else.

Preach it

Preach It, Son:

Allah notes that Sen. Obama lashed out at both the UN and Iran's President today, and loses his cool just a bit:

He must be joking. Am I hallucinating or hasn’t this tool made his own willingness to meet with either Ahmadinejad himself or the people who sent him to the UN the cornerstone of his foreign-policy approach?
Don't worry, Allah. Losing your cool on this matter just makes you cooler in my book. Sen. Obama's shamelessness is starting to grate on us all.
Dans ce pay-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un CEO pour encourager les autres.
Corporate India is in shock after a mob of sacked workers bludgeoned to death the chief executive who had dismissed them from a factory in a suburb of Delhi.

apologies to Voltaire (and Admiral Byng)

The Great Tragedy

The Great Tragedy:

A website called Abortion Changes You gives voice to those suffering from a "choice." It is remarkably moving, and restores something of the honesty so often missing from the discussion.


The Revolution Continues:

I don't remember Naomi Wolf being quite so... well, read for yourself:

In McCain-Palin's America, citizens who are protesting are being charged as terrorists. This means that a violent war had been declared on American citizens. A well known reporter leaked to me on background that St Paul police had dressed as protesters and, dressed in Black -- shades of the Blackshirts of 1920 -- infiltrated protest groups. There were also phalanxes of men in black wearing balaclavas, linking arms and behaving menacingly -- alleged "anarchists." Let me tell you, I have been on the left for thirty years and you can't get three lefties to wear the same t-shirt to a rally, let alone link arms and wear identical face masks: these are not our guys.


Almost everyone I work with on projects related to this campaign for liberty has been experiencing computer harassment: emails are stripped, messages disappear. That's not all: people's bank accounts are being tampered with: wire transfers to banks vanish in midair. I personally keep opening bank accounts that are quickly corrupted by fraud. Money vanishes. Coworkers of mine have to keep opening new email accounts as old ones become infected. And most disturbingly to me personally is the mail tampering I have both heard of and experienced firsthand. My tax returns vanished from my mailbox. All my larger envelopes arrive ripped straight open apparently by hand. When I show the postman, he says "That's impossible." Horrifyingly to me is the impact on my family. My childrens' report cards are returned again and again though perfectly addressed; their invitations are turned back; and my daughters many letters from camp? Vanished. All of them. Not one arrived.
So, the anarchists we've all been seeing at all these protests for more than a dozen years are really part of a Karl Rove plot? That seems like a testable claim: I would think a little Zombietime would resolve your mind on the matter. But: Sarah Palin's operative is stealing your daughter's letters home from camp?

There are probably some fringe blogs out there that posit that an Obama victory would mean the end of Democracy in America, and some sort of coup against the Constitutional Order. I believe it would mean the end of much of American power, through the defunding of the military's efforts to replace and improve their equipment, and wasteful social spending on a scale that would strip away much of our capacity to do much of anything except social spending (see Canada, Europe).

Still, my operating assumption has been that he would mostly obey the law: and Obama, not McCain or Palin, is the one who was trained by men who advocated violent revolution (Frank Marshall Davis, Williaim Ayers) or self-described radical means to undermine the social system (Saul Alinski -- who actually dedicated his book on "community organizers," Rules for Radicals, to Lucifer; Ayers again; the Rev. Mr. Wright, who at least isn't on Lucifer's side; etc).

For that matter, he's the one whose supporters are calling for armed revolution. They're the ones who are trying to shut down news outlets that report opposition viewpoints.

Wolf says:
Am I trying to scare you? I am. I am trying to scare you to death and ask you to scare your Republican and independent friends most of all.
It's a remarkably unselfconscious thing to say, given:
Under the Palin-Rove police state, citizens will be targeted with state cyberterrorism. Bruce Fein of the American Freedom Agenda, a former Reagan official, warned me three years ago that the Bush team went after a Republican who had crossed them through cyberstalking: they messed with his email...
Whose email was hacked and published on the internet for all to see? Sen. Obama's, right? No?

Likewise, consider how she finishes:
Scharansky divided nations into "fear societies" and "free societies." Make no mistake: Sarah "Evita" Palin is Rove and Cheney's cosmetic rebranding of their fascist push: she will help to establish a true and irreversible "fear society" in this once free once proud nation. For God's sake, do not let her; do not let them.
Who was selling fear?

There are some people out there who should take a deep breath.

Just a Man

"Just a Man."

This weekend made me remember something, and reflect on it. It is in the desert around Las Vegas, lingering beyond the last of the lights. It was in the call for armed revolution from fools who never could manage their claim. It is in what we spoke of below, where the Milbloggers alone play taps among a conference filled with businessmen.

"It was an age akin to the Homeric or the Elizabethan, and a man bred to either age would have been at home in the West, and would have talked the language of the men about him.

"Achilles and Jim Bowie had much in common; Sir Francis Drake and John Coulter or Kit Carson would have understood the other.

"They were men of violence all, strong men of strong emotions, men who lived with strength and skill. Ulysses could have marched beside Jedediah Smith, Crockett could have stormed the walls of Troy."

-Louis L'Amour, How the West Was Won, 1962.

Sometimes it seems like there are not a lot of us left. A statistic often repeated at the conference: fewer than one percent of Americans choose to serve in uniform. It's not the only way, of course, but among the rest, how many? And how many just like what White People like, forgetting to be men?

Living The Dream

Living the Dream:

Doc Russia has what he would call a good night:

Last night was one of those nights were I got worked hard, and put up wet, but actually had a Hell of a time.

It was hard, demanding and stressful work, but I actually felt like I was 'living the dream.'
Go see what living the dream entails for Doc Russia. When you're done, don't forget to take a moment to thank God there are men like him.

Vegas AAR

Vegas AAR:

Some remarks:

1) Thanks to Allen for coming out. It was great to meet one of the Grim's Hall crew in person. He was the other guy in the cowboy hat, but since he runs tall by anyone's standard, it wasn't hard to tell us apart. I enjoyed meeting you.

2) When we announced the BlackFive party at the Penthouse Club (and once we had all understood that was Penthouse Magazine, not just some penthouse somewhere), Miss Ladybug asked: "I've been to Hooter's before, so is that too much different?"

I still haven't been to a Hooters. Nevertheless, I think I can now say with a high degree of confidence that there is indeed quite a difference.

3) I didn't really think I'd much enjoy all those hours of sitting at the various panels, but in fact they were quite interesting.

4) FbL was very proud that her coin outranks mine.

5) The DOD was paying close attention to what was said. I asked one question, and had answers from the staff of two general officers within ten minutes or so.

6) The Greyhawks were there and were, as always, great fun. Greyhawk hosted a panel and I must remark that he has a proud future career as a broadcaster in front of him if he wants it. He has the perfect voice for narration. News, documentaries, game shows, whatever he wants: he just needs to send in a sample to some agent.

7) Carrie and I sat together on the bus. We remarked that we were sorry Cassidy couldn't make it out this year. I've never met her in person, but she was missed.

8) OldSoldier54 brought us outstanding cigars. Thank you.

9) Matt at BlackFive insisted I take the statue and camera that went with the BlackFive award he had me receive for us. So, now I have a statue for my office that says, "BlackFive: The Paratrooper of Love." I'm sure that will be confusing to my great-grandchildren when they're cleaning out my kit after the funeral. (Actually, one of the great pleasures of the afterlife may be sitting in on their attempts to make sense out of the relics.)

10) Speaking of which: I stayed at the Sahara. I have a money clip my grandfather left me that is ancient and burnished by long use. It's engraved, but you almost can't tell it anymore. If you hold it so the light reflects just right, though, it says: "SAHARA, LAS VEGAS" and has the hotel logo.

The Sahara was one of the earlier movements away from the old-fashioned Las Vegas casinos, and to a "theme" casino. The concept was a tremendous success. Now, the biggest casinos are all that way: Caesar's Palace is done up in a Roman style (especially the Forum shops: my favorite thing in Las Vegas was the fountain and statues honoring King Bacchus), "Paris" in a faux-Parisian style, there's one for New York City, one about Pirates ("Treasure Island"), one about castles and knights ("Excalibur"), one about Egypt (the "Luxor"), and so forth and so on.

The Sahara has ceased to be interesting as a theme, and so its star is fading. You can see that they tried to grab at the mantle of history -- there are pictures of Gary Cooper on the wall, Elvis, Jack Benny: Golden Age Hollywood and its decadence, which looks like elegance given the far deeper and worse decadence of the nation today.

That wasn't enough, and in a way, it's their fault. They were the ones who introduced the 'next big thing' concept, and started the change that is now undermining them. Trying to claim the mantle of history and 'old Vegas' only points up that they were the ones who undermined that old Vegas.

There is one exception to the otherwise general decline at the Sahara. The House of Lords has been with them since the beginning, and is still the best meal you can readily imagine. I had the Colorado Rack of Lamb. They also do steak, potatoes -- baked or mashed -- fresh bread, salads, fine wines, dessert and coffee.

Some things really are simple, and really are elegant. Those things last.

11) I didn't go to the other meetings at Blog World Expo, but I will lay you any odds you like that the MilBlogs Conference is different in one crucial way. I bet you no other part of the conference ended with a memorial to bloggers of that sort killed in action in the last year, a remembrance of those killed since the start of this war, and the playing of Taps.

In the short speech Matt asked me to give, I said: "We're not biased. We're partisans." That means we've left some behind. I doubt anyone in that room had not sacrificed something, whether it was months away from family, loss of time with children, being asked to do what was hard, or the suffering of injuries in the line of duty.

MAJ Olmstead, as Matt pointed out in our toast to Absent Companions, wanted us to honor him with joy. We had a lot of fun, and good for us. That's what he wanted: that we should live boldly while we can.


The Revolution Started While I Was in Vegas?

So, apparently The Huffington Post is calling for armed revolution? Following back to the original, it seems a little overwrought:

We are in a crisis so dangerous that should these people succeed in their coup, your party affiliation will no longer matter, your American flag will be a nice collectible item of something that once was, and your version of God will be worshiped in secrecy because your freedoms will be owned by the few.
Um, really? Can we wait until I get back home? I left my rifles at the house.

We'll discuss it at the BlackFive pub crawl tonight, see if we can't hammer out a strategy. I wouldn't want to miss out on a good revolution. Of course, I doubt we'll all be on the same side, Ms. Alexandrovna. I'd probably need to hear a more convincing argument for why the recent bailout plan was not just a hastily-written-law-with-bad-parts-that-might-need-ironing-out-later, but in fact an attempt to destroy America and God.

Anything's possible, though, I guess.