Tag Archives: Roger L. Simon

Subterranean Agenda Blues

Kenneth T. Walsh at US News:

On March 12, 2010, President Obama welcomed me into the Oval Office for an interview for this book. Dressed in an elegant dark blue business suit and tie with an American flag pin in his left lapel, he was serene and confident. Behind him was the portrait of George Washington that has hung in the Oval Office for many years. Flanking that portrait were two busts added by Obama, reflecting his own values and heroes—behind him on his right was a likeness of Martin Luther King Jr., and on his left was one of Abraham Lincoln.

Obama was in a reflective mood. He began the interview by saying he had been “fully briefed” on my topic and was ready for me to “dive in.” He proceeded to methodically defend his effort to build a race-neutral administration. “Americans, since the victories of the civil rights movement, I think, have broadly come to accept the notion that everybody has to be treated equally; everybody has to be treated fairly,” the president told me. “And I think that the whole debate about how do you make up for past history creates a complicated wrinkle in that principle of equality.”


But Obama, in his most candid moments, acknowledged that race was still a problem. In May 2010, he told guests at a private White House dinner that race was probably a key component in the rising opposition to his presidency from conservatives, especially right-wing activists in the anti-incumbent “Tea Party” movement that was then surging across the country. Many middle-class and working-class whites felt aggrieved and resentful that the federal government was helping other groups, including bankers, automakers, irresponsible people who had defaulted on their mortgages, and the poor, but wasn’t helping them nearly enough, he said.

A guest suggested that when Tea Party activists said they wanted to “take back” their country, their real motivation was to stir up anger and anxiety at having a black president, and Obama didn’t dispute the idea. He agreed that there was a “subterranean agenda” in the anti-Obama movement—a racially biased one—that was unfortunate. But he sadly conceded that there was little he could do about it.

His goal, he said, was to be as effective and empathetic a president as possible for all Americans. If he could accomplish that, it would advance racial progress for blacks more than anything else he could do.

Mike Riggs at Daily Caller:

Pres. Obama has successfully avoided reducing the complex populist outrage of the Tea Party to racial anxiety–in public, that is. Behind closed doors, however, he allegedly has no problem distorting the motivations of anti-government types.

Roger L. Simon at Pajamas Media:

That was May 2010, according to Walsh. Ironically, only a few days before, on April 29, 2010, your humble scribe wrote the following:

The real reason liberals accuse Tea Partiers of racism is that contemporary America-style liberalism is in rigor mortis. Liberals have nothing else to say or do. Accusations of racism are their last resort.

The European debt crisis — first Greece, then Portugal and now Spain (and Belgium, Ireland and Italy, evidently) — has shown the welfare state to be an unsustainable economic system. The US, UK and Japan, according to the same Financial Times report, are also on similar paths of impoverishment through entitlements.

Many of us have known this for a long time, just from simple math. Entitlements are in essence a Ponzi scheme. Now we have to face that and do something serious about it or our economy (the world economy) will fall apart.

Liberals, leftists or progressives — whatever they choose to call themselves — have a great deal of trouble accepting this. To do so they would have to question a host of positions they have not examined for years, if ever, not to mention have to engage in discussions that could threaten their livelihood and jeopardize their personal and family associations.

Thus the traditional wish to kill the messenger who brings the bad news: the Tea Partiers. And the easiest way to kill them — the most obvious and hoariest of methods – is to accuse them of racism.

When I wrote that, it was a month after Andrew Breitbart issued his as yet unanswered $100,000 challenge for evidence of racism at a Tea Party demonstration. So this is now already a relatively old debate. And the same arguments keep coming up again and again. The left keeps accusing the right of racism and the right keeps denying it, demanding evidence, which is never forthcoming. Not once. But that doesn’t stop the left. They continue the accusations — and the president, at least according to Walsh, believes them.

Bryan Preston at PJ Tatler:

There was, of course, no evidence at all that the Tea Parties had any racial motive whatsoever, and there still isn’t. None. They’re not motivated by race, but by policy. They consider Obama’s policies to be dangerous and destructive, and they’re right on both counts.

But this president, and the people he hires (think Eric “nation of cowards,” “my people” Holder, Van Jones, etc) can’t seem to abide opposition based on policy. Either that, or they’re using race cynically as a way to freeze the shallower thinkers around them and try to put legitimate critics out into the political outer darkness. Charges of racism do both quite nicely.

Tom Maguire:

I think (hope?!?) he was being polite to some fat-cat donors rather than describing his own convictions (and I am bitterly clinging to the notion that he has some convictions).  Huckabee going on about Obama’s Kenyan attitudes would be an example from the right of pandering to the nutters rather than challenging them.

Obviously, your mileage may vary.

THEN AGAIN:  The First Panderer is also the First Condescender, so he might very well believe the worst of these lowly Tea Partiers…

Patterico at Patterico’s Pontification:

Of course, it’s difficult to know what he said and how he said it from this report, as it is admittedly full of paraphrases, and lacks the clarifying aids of a recording or even direct quotes longer than two words. Depending on what he said, he may have been accurate — there clearly is a racial component to some of the opposition to Obama. The issue is how widespread he portrayed this aspect of his opposition to be. Because most of us really don’t care about the color of his skin. The color we’re worried about is red — all the red ink required to document the effects of his disastrous policies on our national balance sheet. (Look at it as a stimulus program: Obama will save or create thousands of jobs at the manufacturers of the red ink hues!)

Given how uncertain it is what he said, how’s about a journalist asks him at his next press conference? Let’s get some clarification on just how racist he thinks Tea Partiers really are.

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:

What a horrible disappointment this man has been as president.
2012 cannot get here soon enough.

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Filed under Political Figures, Politics, Race

How Do You Say “Whodunit?” In Farsi?


Prof. Majid Shahriari, who died when his car was attacked in North Tehran Monday, Nov. 29, headed the team Iran established for combating the Stuxnet virus rampaging through its nuclear and military networks. His wife was injured. The scientist’s death deals a major blow to Iran’s herculean efforts to purge its nuclear and military control systems of the destructive worm since it went on the offensive six months ago. Only this month, Stuxnet shut down nuclear enrichment at Natanz for six days from Nov. 16-22 and curtailed an important air defense exercise.

Prof. Shahriari was the Iranian nuclear program’s top expert on computer codes and cyber war.

The Jawa Report

David Frum at FrumForum:

Perhaps Iranian parents should be advising their science-minded youngsters to consider a less hazardous specialty.

Aaron Worthing at Patterico:

The last few days we have seen quite a few interesting stories about the Stuxnet virus/malware currently wreaking havoc in Iran’s nuclear program.  First was this very interesting Fox news reportage on the program:

Intelligence agencies, computer security companies and the nuclear industry have been trying to analyze the worm since it was discovered in June by a Belarus-based company that was doing business in Iran. And what they’ve all found, says Sean McGurk, the Homeland Security Department’s acting director of national cyber security and communications integration, is a “game changer.”

The construction of the worm was so advanced, it was “like the arrival of an F-35 into a World War I battlefield,” says Ralph Langner, the computer expert who was the first to sound the alarm about Stuxnet. Others have called it the first “weaponized” computer virus.

Simply put, Stuxnet is an incredibly advanced, undetectable computer worm that took years to construct and was designed to jump from computer to computer until it found the specific, protected control system that it aimed to destroy: Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.

The target was seemingly impenetrable; for security reasons, it lay several stories underground and was not connected to the World Wide Web. And that meant Stuxnet had to act as sort of a computer cruise missile: As it made its passage through a set of unconnected computers, it had to grow and adapt to security measures and other changes until it reached one that could bring it into the nuclear facility.

I mean that passage is so “holy sh-t” I wonder if the correct name for this thing should be “Skynet.”  Of course I urge you to read the whole thing.

But then there was a moment this morning that I liken to the second plane striking the WTC.  Now let me be clear.  I am not about to compare this thing to the evil of the 9-11 attacks, or anything like that.  But like a lot of you, I remember hearing about the first plane striking, and thinking it was an accident, or maybe just one lone crazy pilot.  And then I heard about the second plane and I knew this was an attack, and it had to be more than just one nut.  That was the feeling I had learning the next few facts.

You see, this morning we learn that two of Iran’s nuclear scientists were attacked in car bombs—meaning their cars were blown up.  One died and one is hospitalized.

Tom Maguire:

I suppose that some dissident Iranian faction could have pulled this off but the money bet has to be the Israelis.  (Hmm, might the Russians be on the board?  They could be playing both sides, publicsly sorta-supporting Irana while privately getting worried about a nuclear crazy on their border.)

Roger L. Simon at Pajamas Media:

Ahmadinejad et al, of course, blame Israel and the West, and no doubt this “blame” is deserved. How it should be apportioned may be forever a mystery, but it is unlikely we will find out via WikiLeaks, which have thus far done little more than ratify the obvious and make the Obama administration look foolish for its ludicrously ineffective security. Intelligence work evidently has two levels – a completely incompetent one that produces WikiLeaks and a brilliant one that produces Stuxnet.

Speaking of Stuxnet, some recent reports have added Russia to the list of nations (in this case with the US and Germany, not Israel) who have conspired to construct the malware. Now that’s interesting – and undoubtedly crazy-making to the Iranians.


Moe Lane:

The Iranians are blaming Israel, of course… despite the fact that this would be precisely the sort of cinematic attack that generally stays in cinemas*.  That would be because you don’t start a war to kill two scientists; and if Mossad had done this, it would have been an act of war.

On the other hand: between this situation and the Stuxnet worm, this entire Iranian nuke situation is starting to get an action-movie feel to it.  Which is not actually a good thing, given a). the number of extras that typically die in action movies and b). the amount of real estate that typically gets blown up…

Gateway Pundit

Ace of Spades:

I sure would like to think my government was capable of stuff like this. Or had the balls to do it. But I don’t.

Reza Aslan at The Daily Beast:

Earlier this year, I wrote about a clandestine CIA program to delay or perhaps even derail Iran’s nuclear ambitions by convincing high-level Iranian nuclear scientists to defect to the United States. The program, called Brain Drain and put in place by the Bush administration as early as 2005, came under intense scrutiny after the botched defection of a 30-year-old junior staff member of Iran’s Atomic Agency named Shahram Amiri, who was picked up by U.S. intelligence agents in Saudi Arabia last summer but who later asked to be returned to Iran.

Part of the CIA’s clandestine efforts apparently include selling faulty nuclear components to Iran, some of which have been booby-trapped to explode and destroy the machinery altogether. There have been scattered reports of explosions at various enrichment facilities, including one that destroyed 50 centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz plant. And, just recently, we learned of the so-called Stuxnet computer virus, which seems to have been developed (likely by the U.S. and/or Israel) specifically to target Iran’s centrifuges. The virus reportedly shut down thousands of centrifuges at Iran’s controversial Natanz enrichment facility.

I reported then about the possibility that these covert activities, which seem to have been successful in slowing Iran’s nuclear program, may also include targeted assassinations of high-level nuclear scientists and members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In 2007, the intelligence website STRATFOR claimed that Mossad agents had used “radioactive poison” to kill a nuclear physicist named Ardashir Hosseinpour who was suspected of being involved in Iran’s secret nuclear program. Another Iranian nuclear scientist, Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, was also mysteriously assassinated by a car bomb in January 2010. Add to this a number of high-profile “disappearances,” like that of a former defense minister and general in the Revolutionary Guard, Ali-Reza Asgari, who vanished while on a trip to Turkey, and a distinct pattern starts to emerge.

Reva Bhalla, a senior analyst at STRATFOR, puts it plainly. “With cooperation from the United States, Israeli covert operations have focused both on eliminating key human assets involved in the nuclear program and in sabotaging the Iranian nuclear supply chain.”

If that is true and Monday’s assassination attempt of Iranian nationals signals a shift in U.S. or Israeli strategy toward Iran (perhaps emboldened by what the recent WikiLeaks dump shows is growing Arab government support for a harder line toward Iran’s nuclear program), then we may be entering a new and extremely dangerous phase in the nuclear standoff with Iran—one that could quickly get out of hand. The head of Iran’s nuclear program, Ali Akbar Salehi, sounded a dire warning to the U.S. and Israel. “Don’t play with fire,” he said. “The patience of the Iranian people has its limits. If our patience runs out, you will suffer the consequences.”

Doug Mataconis:

Of course, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever really know who’s behind this, which is of course the point of a covert operation. However, it seems pretty clear that there is an ongoing effort, perhaps international in origin, to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program. That in and of itself is a fascinating story.

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Filed under Middle East

Pabst Blue Ribbon, Man

Stephen Saito at IFC:

At the risk of being tacky to bring up Dennis Hopper’s personal travails late in life, as they unfortunately will be alongside the glowing career retrospectives now that he finally succumbed to prostate cancer at the age of 74, it’s worth mentioning that he wouldn’t let his weakened state keep him from being a daring rabble-rouser until the very end.

Although Hopper’s long battle with disease robbed us of one of cinema’s great rebels too soon, it also allowed for moving considerations of his work while he was still alive as the New York Times‘ Manohla Dargis and Matt Zoller Seitz did of both his work as a director right here for IFC.com and his career as a whole for Moving Image Source around the time he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. (Hopper’s speech for the occasion can be found here.)

Of course, Hopper was always an odd fit with Hollywood — a fiercely talented actor with all-American looks whose early roles opposite James Dean in “Rebel Without a Cause” and “Giant,” always hinted at his independent streak with the ever-present mania behind those blue eyes. It may not entirely have been his plan to overthrow the film business in 1969 (and using studio distribution to do it, no less) with “Easy Rider,” a film that helped bring counterculture to the masses and kickstarted one of the most creatively fertile periods in Hollywood history, not to mention its influence on shaping the modern independent film movement. (In a study of extremes, Hopper acted in Tinseltown stalwart John Wayne’s “True Grit” the same year.)

Showing my age, I grew up with Hopper in the era long after his exploits offscreen and on (let’s just say it was a long time before I got to appreciate his turn as Frank Booth in “Blue Velvet”) had given way to a steady stream of villains in mainstream Hollywood fare. His appearance alone was instant code for crazed mastermind in such films as “Super Mario Brothers,” “Waterworld” and “Speed,” even though he was doing some of the most nuanced work of his career in films like the May-December romance “Carried Away” and his pivotal supporting turn as Christian Slater’s blue collar father in “True Romance.”

David Thomson at The New Republic:

There was a time when Dennis Hopper exulted in the reputation of being the first kid who knew what was wrong with Hollywood. What he said, more or less, was that the movies have gone dead, man, that it’s just old-timers doing it all on automatic pilot, that there’s no truth, anymore, man, and they won’t put me in lead parts.

There was some truth in what he said, and it was certainly the case that a number of veteran directors found Hopper an intolerable smart-ass who said he had known Jimmy–Jimmy Dean–and that what he was saying now was only what Dean would have said. Which may have been true. But which also allowed that Nicholas Ray–the director of Rebel Without a Cause, one of their two films together–also knew some of what was wrong about Hollywood, even if there was very little he could do about it. Come to that, Orson Welles, 15 years earlier had known, too, and had done his best to indicate another way out of the jungle.

Dennis Hopper was not a Dean or a Welles; he was not a Ray. But he was a bright-eyed, wide-browed kid with a slightly frozen beauty who looked a little like some silent screen actors.

Though he had come out of Dodge City, Kansas, he got to California early on and for a moment it was reckoned he had a career. He was a guy in the gang that hazes Dean in Rebel, and just a year later he played the grown-up son to Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor in Giant.

He did a few other films–Westerns, like Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (that’s the Burt Lancaster-Kirk Douglas version) where he played Billy Clanton, From Hell to Texas, and The Sons of Katie Elder (with John Wayne).

In 1961, he married Brooke Hayward, the stunning daughter of agent Leland Hayward and actress Margaret Sullavan. The young couple was good looking enough to be taken for the next generation of Hollywood royalty, but no one quite noticed that the kingdom was melting like an ice sculpture out in the sun. Hopper fought with directors. He spouted a lot of Method talk about the actor feeling “right,” and his career was going nowhere.

Then something happened. Roger Corman was making his exploitation films of the moment and the subject was bikers on drugs having sex. One of these pictures was The Trip, with a scene where Hopper, Peter Fonda, and some others were at a campfire, passing round a joint, and improvising. Was that a real joint? Corman would ask later. He was shocked to think that could be going on. But others noted that the joint gave Dennis a gift of tongues–he made up a speech using the word “man” 36 times.

As a reward, he said, Corman sent Hopper and Fonda off into the desert with a nonsynch camera to get some atmosphere shots. They had a terrific time as can happen with gorgeous kids, a camera, and what may be joints. As Fonda remembered, “So we shot for a couple of days in Yuma, in Big Dune and back towards L.A. Dennis got some beautiful, beautiful stuff of me in the dunes with water behind me, water going into my profile and bursting behind me.”

Gee, this is easy, they thought, and so they reckoned they’d make a whole movie more or less that way. They called it Easy Rider and they did it without Corman. And Dennis would direct. A wild bunch of Hollywood kids came on board–Hopper and Fonda, Terry Southern, Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider, Donn Cambern, Henry Jaglom and Laszlo Kovacs. Anyone they knew, passing by, was likely to be asked to help in the editing. Another kid they knew, Jack Nicholson, got the third acting role, the disenchanted lawyer–though there was a good deal of argument (and money in court later) over how he got the part when Rip Torn had been in line first. Thy shot stuff–beautiful, beautiful stuff. They had desert, sunrise-sunset, and girls. Kovacs was a terrific camera man. They laid music on the soundtrack and the film has a quest if not a story–of these cowboys driving across America for drug money (Phil Spector made a cameo as their connection–I’m not making this up).

Andrew O’Hehir at Salon:

On the one occasion when I met Hopper, at a film-festival party in San Francisco about 15 years ago, he gave a vintage performance, drinking wine and laughing it up with a group of people he barely knew (or, in my case, didn’t know at all). He wore a white linen suit and a trim goatee, regaled us with yarns from his heyday as a “total madman” in the 1960s, and looked terrific against what I remember as a crisp, sunny day. At some point his female companion — I’m not going to try to figure out who that was, and it doesn’t matter — stalked off after some heated private conversation, but he didn’t seem concerned.

When I asked Hopper what he remembered most about James Dean, with whom he appeared in “Rebel Without a Cause” and “Giant,” his demeanor changed. He became intensely earnest, explaining that Dean had changed his approach to acting and to life. Hopper had begun acting in television at a time when it was all about clarity and economy, he explained: You hit your mark, you said your lines clearly, you made your exit. Then he got on the set of “Rebel Without a Cause” (his film debut) and met Dean, who had been studying under Lee Strasberg at the Actors’ Studio in New York.

“Here was this kid, Jimmy — I mean, he was older than me, but he was still a kid,” Hopper said, “and the stuff he was doing was amazing, it just blew me away.” (I won’t pretend these are verbatim quotes; this is the conversation as I recall it.) He remembered Dean rolling around on the carpet of the set that was supposed to be the Stark family’s Los Angeles home. “I asked him what the hell he was doing. I mean, you just didn’t do that. It was completely from another planet.” Dean explained that Jim Stark, his alienated teenage character, had spent a lot of time on that carpet and was intimately familiar with it. He needed to know what it felt like.

Along with Marlon Brando, Dean was one of the principal vectors for the transmission of Strasberg’s “Method acting” approach into the Hollywood mainstream, and Hopper became an eager disciple. (Publicity photographs from “Rebel Without a Cause” show Hopper reading Stanislavski’s “An Actor Prepares” on the set, which can only have been Dean’s idea.) After Dean’s death, Hopper abandoned Hollywood for Manhattan and spent five years studying under Strasberg. In later years, as the Method came to dominate American film acting, several of its practitioners became much bigger stars than Hopper: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Sean Penn, along with Hopper’s close friend Jack Nicholson. But I’m not sure any of those men internalized the Method, or pursued its philosophical and psychological dimensions to their logical extremes, the way Hopper did.

Viewed narrowly, the Stanislavski-Strasberg Method is a means to an end: An actor employs his own emotions, memories and sensations in order to portray a character in more lifelike and convincing fashion. Hopper seemed to develop his own expanded, synthetic interpretation, probably shaped by his appetite for consciousness-altering substances, avant-garde art and thorny philosophy. Every Hopper performance was just a facet of his lifelong, overarching performance as Dennis Hopper, and the professional separation most actors maintain between themselves and their characters evaporated entirely. Apocryphal or not, the story of Hopper’s phone call to David Lynch after he had read the script for “Blue Velvet” is on point: “You have to let me play Frank Booth. Because I am Frank Booth!”

Of course Hopper wasn’t really an amyl-nitrite-huffing, psychopathic rapist any more than he was a disgraced Indiana basketball coach (as in “Hoosiers”) or a disgruntled bomb-squad officer (as in “Speed”). But he pursued roles as dangerous and damaged characters, at least in the second half of his career, with a fervor that suggests he found them personally therapeutic as well as financially rewarding. Frank Booth was a revelation because he was horrifyingly, recognizably real, in a way movie villains hardly ever are. Even with his exaggerated vices and mannerisms, his foulness was rooted in genuine pain. (And Frank’s profane preference for Pabst Blue Ribbon over Heineken launched a trend among young consumers that endures two decades later; the brewery should have paid Hopper and Lynch a lifetime commission.)

Roger L. Simon at Pajamas Media:

Unlike other Hollywood hot shots like Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, etc, who never once changed a single thought they ever had, whether on LSD or a glass of milk, Dennis Hopper was able to see that the very thing that allowed him to live the wild and crazy life he did was deeply obvious. Forget all the self-serving narcissistic left-wing baloney. It was good old fashioned American Freedom! Nowhere else could Dennis have been Dennis — and he knew it. He wanted that for everybody.

So when you think of Dennis on that iconic bike in Easy Rider, think of America at its best, out on the open road, optimistic and heading straight on with unflinching belief in liberty.

And to my Hollywood friends, let this be a reminder that traditionally an artist is not someone who goes with the crowd, especially when that crowd hasn’t revised an idea since the presidential campaign of George McGovern. Open your minds. What’s cool may not be so cool anymore. If Dennis can do it, so can you. He wasn’t afraid of losing his job.

Yes, I know, this is not exactly the perfect guy to pick as a role model — but in a way I do. In fact, in honor of Dennis I’m thinking of turning in my Prius for a Harley.

J. Hoberman at Village Voice:

“The man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad!” So Hopper described Marlon Brando towards the end of Apocalypse Now in a no-doubt improvised line that basically referred to himself. Hopper took Method Acting to the far side of the moon and turned Hollywood on to Pop Art, he appeared in Andy Warhol’s first narrative movie (Tarzan and Jane Regain… sort of) in support of Taylor Mead, and pioneered the naturalistic use of marijuana on the screen. He never won an Oscar or a lifetime achievement award but there are lines like “Hey man, I’m just a motherfuckin’ asshole, man!” (delivered while pouring a bottle of bourbon over his head in Out of the Blue) to which no other actor could possibly do justice. Blue Velvet is unthinkable without him.

As an actor, the young Hopper combined the image of the Cowboy with that of the Juvenile Delinquent; later, he was pleased to incarnate the chaos of the Sixties (and not just as a Ronald Reagan supporter). Eighteen years after Easy Rider, Hopper enlivened the youth film River’s Edge as a one-legged ex-biker living alone with an inflated sex doll called Ellie, selling loose joints to the local punks, and reminiscing about his colorful past: “I ate so much pussy in those days, my beard looked like a glazed donut.” Last seen, he was in heavy rotation on TV as a clean-shaven but acid-ripped investment services pitchman proposing to redefine his generation’s notion of retirement. (See his villainous turn in fellow Sixties-man George Romero’s Land of the Dead to see how.)

Not long ago I made a pilgrimage to Chinchero, the Indian town 14,000 feet up in the Andes where The Last Movie was shot–sacred ground for the Incas, man, even before Hopper re-sanctified it! There was no monument to, or even a memory of his antics, just the realization that this crazy gringo had somehow taken over the whole town as the set for his masterpiece. The Last Movie is the one Hollywood production since Orson Welles’ Magnificent Ambersons that deserves a place in Anthology Film Archives’ Essential Cinema. It used to be that Hopper had the only decent 35mm print in existence. What will happen to it now, I wonder?

UPDATE: Dana Stevens in Slate

UPDATE #2: Jesse Walker in Reason


Filed under Movies

Michael Oren Goes To Irvine

Jeffrey Goldberg:

Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S., tried to give a speech at UC Irvine but was shouted down by Muslim protesters, who apparently weren’t equipped to argue with Oren, just drive him from the stage. All this is par for the course, but I did find this one bit of information amusing:

The Muslim Student Union said in its statement: “We strongly condemn the university for cosponsoring, and therefore, inadvertently supporting the ambassador of a state that is condemned by more UN Human Rights Council resolutions than all other countries in the world combined.”
To the Muslim Student Union, the fact that the UN Human Rights Council has condemned Israel more than all the other countries of the world combined means that Israel is worse than all the other countries of the world combined. To more rational, less prejudiced people, this fact means that the UN Human Rights Council is not a serious organization, but one under the control of dictators and despots.

Scott Johnson at Powerline:

A young man began the outbursts with the slogan “Michael Oren! Propagating murder is not an expression of free speech!” As the Post’s report indicates, the man’s words echoed a statement released by the university’s Muslim Student Union prior to Oren’s appearance. The statement said: “As people of conscience, we oppose Michael Oren’s invitation to our campus. Propagating murder is not a responsible expression of free speech.” I rashly conclude that the agitators who disrupted Oren’s address were taking their cues from the Muslim Student Union.

Roger L. Simon at Pajamas Media:

The University of California Irvine has a severe free speech problem and has had one for a long time. Part of this stems from the school’s history of what is politely called multi-culturalism – actually a euphemism for cultural relativism, a bankrupt pseudo-philosophy that provides a phony intellectual veneer to totalitarian behavior. Another part is good, old-fashioned anti-Semitism, which seems to be cropping up everywhere these days. A third part is even more old-fashioned cowardice, working in tandem with the other two.

School officials say they were embarrassed. They should be a lot more than that. They should rectify this situation immediately and in a serious way, because this is a serious case of racism. The reputation of the whole University of California system is at risk here in an era when taxpayers are in a justifiably rebellious mood. Given what’s happened, outside the sciences, it’s hard to regard Irvine as a legitimate educational institution. Why would any of us pay for what is happening there? The California Board of Regents and the administration of UCI should think about that.

The Jawa Report

Jonathan Chait at TNR:

One of my fond memories from being an undergraduate in the early 1990s was the fervent conviction of the campus left that their opponents were not entitled to express their beliefs. Some of the more erudite among them, like Catherine MacKinnon, would formulate elaborate theories explaining why freedom of speech was a pernicious myth. But mostly the opinion took the form of slogans. Racism is not free speech. Sexism is not free speech. And since anybody to the right of, oh, Ralph Nader was a racist and a sexist, then that meant that nobody outside of the left-wing ought to be permitted to express themselves.

The principle, if you can call it that, was on display at Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s speech at the University of California-Irvine. I’m not a big Michael Oren fan, but this display of protesters disrupting his remarks is rather telling

UPDATE: Orin Kerr

Jolene Crixell at Spencer Ackerman’s place

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Filed under Education, Israel/Palestine

University of East Anglia, Yet Again

Ben Webster and Jonathan Leake in The Times:

The university at the centre of the climate change row over stolen e-mails broke the law by refusing to hand over its raw data for public scrutiny.

The University of East Anglia breached the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to comply with requests for data concerning claims by its scientists that man-made emissions were causing global warming.

The Information Commissioner’s Office decided that UEA failed in its duties under the Act but said that it could not prosecute those involved because the complaint was made too late, The Times has learnt. The ICO is now seeking to change the law to allow prosecutions if a complaint is made more than six months after a breach.

The stolen e-mails , revealed on the eve of the Copenhagen summit, showed how the university’s Climatic Research Unit attempted to thwart requests for scientific data and other information, and suggest that senior figures at the university were involved in decisions to refuse the requests. It is not known who stole the e-mails.

Professor Phil Jones, the unit’s director, stood down while an inquiry took place. The ICO’s decision could make it difficult for him to resume his post.

Details of the breach emerged the day after John Beddington, the Chief Scientific Adviser, warned that there was an urgent need for more honesty about the uncertainty of some predictions. His intervention followed admissions from scientists that the rate of glacial melt in the Himalayas had been grossly exaggerated.

Iain Murray at The Corner:

Yes, a crime was committed in Climategate. The Information Commissioner in the U.K. has now confirmed that the University of East Anglia broke the law by failing to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests.  The climategate e-mails clearly reveal the complicity of many of the leading names in climate science in that crime. Unfortunately, thanks to a spectacularly badly-worded statute, the Information Commissioner is unable to punish the guilty for this crime. As to whether the e-mails were “hacked” by “thieves,” that remains an open question. All we have is the knowledge that the e-mails came into the possession of the public without the express consent of the authors. That may be the work of thieves, or it may be the work of a whistleblower. If there is any under-reporting here, it relates to the failure of journalists to adequately investigate whether a leak, rather than a hack, occurred. The fact that the UEA’s own Mike Hulme is referring to the event as a leak might tell you something.

As for Glaciergate, the hysteria about sea-level rise is overdone. The IPCC itself estimates the current contribution of glacial melt to sea-level rise is 1.19 mm a year. The specific issue at play in glaciergate, the melting of Himalayan glaciers, has been a major factor in Indian politics, and therefore yet another example of supposed scientists hyping pure speculation in order to effect political action they view as desirable, thereby subverting the democratic process. The reaction in India — far from the reach of CEI — has been severe, with the Indian government now distancing itself from Rajendra Pachauri, the Indian national who is head of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The real issue here is that climategate, glaciergate, Amazongate, disastergate, Sterngate, and all the other “warmergate” stories that are currently making headlines reveal a consistent pattern of behavior: scientists making unwarranted politically-motivated claims from the data they are supposed to be objectively examining. It should be blindingly obvious that public trust in scientists would slip as a result. But the damage was done by scientists as well as to scientists.

Roger L. Simon at Pajamas Media:

Of course cap-and-trade relies on this hugely corrupted, possibly even one hundred percent incorrect and now missing data that was hidden by these scalawags. People have already been making fortunes on “Carbon Exchanges” based upon this despicable behavior and are poised to make billions more via so-called carbon credits. Critics have compared these to papal indulgences but they are far worse because they have tremendous economic and social implications in the midst of a fragile economy. (It is also a complete desecration of science.)

Yet Obama continues to back cap-and-trade. Some Republicans like to call it cap-and-tax. Too old fashioned. Taxation is the least of it. This is gangsterism. Massive international fraud is being perpetrated. Perhaps capo de capo would be more like it, making Obama the capo de capi. Or is that George Soros? Look for more on this on Pajamas Media in days to come.

Megan McArdle:

There won’t be any prosecution, since this happened more than six months ago, but it will probably be difficult for Phil Jones to be reinstated as the head of the climate unit at East Anglia University.

It’s important to note that there’s no finding that they lied or anything; just that they didn’t correctly comply with the FOI request.  The problem is, skeptics are naturally going to ask, “What did they have to hide?”

James Hoggan at Huffington Post:

The real damage caused by these scandals resulted from the lazy reporting done by most journalists on the subject.  The media failed to report the real story of “Climategate” – that a crime was committed by thieves who stole from a prestigious university in order to further an agenda of harassment against climate scientists.  And while “Glaciergate” was an embarrassing screw-up by the IPCC, it didn’t change the fact that glaciers are melting worldwide, causing sea level rise that is already affecting coastal communities.  In both of these cases, and in general, the media should shoulder the bulk of the responsibility, failing to remind the public that the body of science proving human-caused climate change is vast and global, published in peer-reviewed journals, and validated by major scientific bodies the world over.

Readers of DeSmog Blog know well that these recent polling results have much more to do with the decades-long confusion campaign designed by polluting interests to keep the public in the dark about how serious climate change really is.

“There is a real need for improved public education and communication on this critical issue. The science is getting stronger and public opinion is going in the opposite direction,” Leiserowitz says.

That’s an understatement.

This research underscores my view that climate advocates are incompetent communicators.  With all the science in the world behind us, and a good deal of the public credibility, we still can’t win a debate with people who have all the facts working against them.

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How Do You Say “Creigh Deeds” With A Boston Accent?

Jessica Van Sack at The Boston Herald:

Riding a wave of opposition to Democratic health-care reform, GOP upstart Scott Brown is leading in the U.S. Senate race, raising the odds of a historic upset that would reverberate all the way to the White House, a new poll shows.

Although Brown’s 4-point lead over Democrat Martha Coakley is within the Suffolk University/7News survey’s margin of error, the underdog’s position at the top of the results stunned even pollster David Paleologos.

“It’s a Brown-out,” said Paleologos, director of Suffolk’s Political Research Center. “It’s a massive change in the political landscape.”

Roger L. Simon at Pajamas Media:

A new poll taken Thursday evening for Pajamas Media by CrossTarget – an Alexandria VA survey research firm – shows Scott Brown, a Republican, leading Martha Coakley, a Democrat, by 15.4% in Tuesday’s special election for the open Massachusetts US Senate seat. The poll of 946 likely voters was conducted by telephone using interactive voice technology (IVR) and has a margin of error of +/- 3.19%.

This is the first poll to show Brown surging to such an extent. A poll from the Suffolk University Political Research Center – published Thursday morning by the Boston Herald, but taken earlier – had Brown moving ahead by 4%.

The special election is to fill the seat held by the recently deceased Edward Kennedy. Kennedy, a Democrat, served in the US Senate for 46 years. A Brown victory could stall legislation supported by the Obama administration, including health care.

Nate Silver:

Earlier today I tweeted about how there wasn’t enough evidence to describe the Massachusetts special election as a “toss-up”, as some other forecasters have done, based on the information available to us at that time.

Well, now there’s some new evidence. And it isn’t good for Martha Coakley.

In particular, the evidence is a Suffolk University poll that shows the Republican, Scott Brown, ahead by 4 points, 50-46.

Suffolk is a fairly average pollster, and I’m sure if we looked long and hard enough, we could develop some critiques of the poll. But there are no particular red flags and … c’mon, let’s not be silly, because there are a lot of other polls that you’d also have to critique in order to discredit the notion that the race is too close to call, including the PPP poll that showed Brown up by one point a week ago (since which time he’s almost certainly gained ground), the Rasmussen poll that showed a 2-point race for Coakley, and Coakley’s internals, which reportedly have shown her ahead by just 2-5 points. Look at what we get when take a simple linear trendline of all public polls conducted since the start of the year, excluding all published and rumored internal polls.

That’s a toss-up, ladies and germs! Both candidates are tied at 48 percent on the nose.

Byron York at the Washington Examiner:

Here in Massachusetts, as well as in Washington, a growing sense of gloom is setting in among Democrats about the fortunes of Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley. “I have heard that in the last two days the bottom has fallen out of her poll numbers,” says one well-connected Democratic strategist. In her own polling, Coakley is said to be around five points behind Republican Scott Brown. “If she’s not six or eight ahead going into the election, all the intensity is on the other side in terms of turnout,” the Democrat says. “So right now, she is destined to lose.”

Intensifying the gloom, the Democrat says, is the fact that the same polls showing Coakley falling behind also show President Obama with a healthy approval rating in the state. “With Obama at 60 percent in Massachusetts, this shouldn’t be happening, but it is,” the Democrat says.

Given those numbers, some Democrats, eager to distance Obama from any electoral failure, are beginning to compare Coakley to Creigh Deeds, the losing Democratic candidate in the Virginia governor’s race last year. Deeds ran such a lackluster campaign, Democrats say, that his defeat could be solely attributed to his own shortcomings, and should not be seen as a referendum on President Obama’s policies or those of the national Democratic party.

The same sort of thinking is emerging in Massachusetts. “This is a Creigh Deeds situation,” the Democrat says. “I don’t think it says that the Obama agenda is a problem. I think it says, 1) that she’s a terrible candidate, 2) that she ran a terrible campaign, 3) that the climate is difficult but she should have been able to overcome it, and 4) that Democrats beware — you better run good campaigns, or you’re going to lose.”

Martha Coakley, in other words, is to be thrown under the bus. She deserves it, to be sure, but the idea that anyone will believe that the Massachusetts Senate race has no national implications is absurd. Go here to get on the bandwagon and contribute to Brown’s campaign or volunteer to work for it.

Jules Crittenden:

I dunno, a lot of born-and-bred blue Mass Dems, lifelong lunchpail Kennedy voters, I ran into during Coakley’s infamous vacation weren’t talking about her but they were talking about Obamacare. They didn’t like it. However, win or lose, Coakley’s campaign could well go down as historic … in the what-not-to-do annals of electioneering.

Erick Erickson at Redstate:

Right now the media is missing a really big story. It does not fit their narrative.

The narrative, of course, is that conservatives want a totalitarian pure party with a purity test for the GOP. You want gay marriage? No way. Pro-choice? No support. For government assisted health care options? We don’t recognize you. At least that is what the media claims.

So the media has and is ignoring the alliance between left and right among the GOP in Massachusetts.

Scott Brown is not a conservative. He makes no pretension of being a conservative. He defends Romneycare, which most conservative have rejected. He is pro-choice. But he is for less government interference in the free market and less spending. Like Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, he is the perfect sort of Republican candidate for New England.

Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund is encouraging its members to support and donate to Scott Brown.. Marco Rubio is supporting Scott Brown. RedState is supporting Scott Brown. We, well . . . I, suspect he’ll give conservatives heart burn as New England Republicans do. But all of us know he is a good, pragmatic fit for Massachusetts. He’ll vote against Obamacare and he’d vote against a second stimulus. Conservatives do know, despite media and liberal Republican (called “moderate” by the media) claims to the contrary, that the GOP needs 51 seats in the Senate to have a majority.

Conservative and liberal Republicans are united behind Scott Brown. You’d think a mainstream media that has generated millions of words on television, radio, and print about conservatives demanding a pure party would take notice.

But that would shatter their whole narrative. And the last thing anyone wants to do at the next party at the Met or Sally Quinn’s house is mention the latest liberal friend in rehab or that maybe their group think on conservatives is shallow, self-serving, and vain.

Robert Stacy McCain at The American Spectator:

While most media have focused on Brown’s surging momentum — he raised $1.3 million in a Monday “money bomb” and has moved ahead in the latest poll — perhaps the bigger story is Coakley’s complete flop as a candidate.

Massachusetts likes its liberals, but it likes them with a common touch that Coakley utterly lacks. The career prosecutor’s aloof style may explain why a young grocery clerk, asked what reactions she’d heard about the Senate campaign, responded: “I don’t know much about the election myself. I just know my parents hate Martha Coakley.”

Brown has spent the weeks since the Dec. 8 primary driving across the state and shaking hands with voters, while Coakley seemed to be awaiting her coronation. Only after she fared badly in a televised debate earlier this week (a “shockingly poor debate performance,” as Brown spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom described it) did Coakley launch her massive tsunami of negative ads. Brown responded in nice-guy mode with his own TV spot showing him in his kitchen as he described the Democrat as part of a “political machine.”

Coakley’s lack of charisma is not her only liability, however. The latest poll by Suffolk University for Boston’s WHDH-TV shows that opposition to the pending national health-care legislation is a major source of Brown’s support among independent voters. And, despite the enormous Democratic advantage in registration, a majority of Massachusetts voters are not registered as either Democrats or Republicans. The decisive influence of these unaffiliated “swing” voters explains much of the strategy for both the Coakley and Brown campaigns.

A lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard married to a popular local TV personality, Brown is portrayed in his campaign ads as a hard-working family man who speaks the language of “common sense.” The Coakley campaign, once it was forced to take notice of the Republican’s gathering strength, has tried to depict him as an ideological extremist — a “far-right tea-bagger,” as Sen. Chuck Schumer called Brown in a fundraising e-mail earlier this week.

Schumer’s pejorative reference to Tea Party protesters may generate contributions from panic-struck Democratic donors, but support from the grassroots movement can scarcely be considered a liability, in light of recent polls showing the Tea Party more popular than either Republicans or Democrats.

John Hanlon at Townhall:

Yesterday, Chris Cillizza from the Washington Post reported on the toss up development writing that “the two leading political handicappers in Washington have moved the contest into their ‘toss up’ category today.”  Cillizza went on to write how the Coakley campaign continues to show signs of anxiousness about the election. In the days before the election, he wrote that “Democrats will do anything and everything to activate their party base — from an expected appearance in the state by former President Bill Clinton to a new web video released today by President Obama.”

In addition to such predictable campaign tactics from a candidate who is struggling, Coakley campaign advocates also seem to be doing more to fight against Brown. As Politico.com reported, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee now seems ready to “play the Kennedy card” through campaign bulletins looking for volunteers. Additionally, Coakley supporter Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer has now stooped so low as to write in a fund-raising letter that Brown “is a far-right tea-bagger Republican”, according to Fox News. Let’s also not forget that earlier this week, another Coakley supporter admitted that he acted too aggressively during an encounter with a reporter who fell.

To frustrate the Democrats even further in their bid to win this seat, a new poll reported on by the Boston Herald has Scott Brown with a four point lead in the Bay State. That poll was conducted by Suffolk University / 7News. One of the most interesting items from the article was that Suffolk pollster David “Paleologos said bellweather models show high numbers of independent voters turning out on election day, which benefits Brown, who has 65 percent of that bloc compared to Coakley’s 30 percent.” (It should be noted that I once took a class with Mr. Paleologos as an undergraduate.) That finding is a great sign for Mr. Brown and another great sign is that according to the article, “with 99 percent having made up their minds, voters may be hard to persuade.” If Brown maintains a lead (even though the lead is in the margin of error), he could be the underdog who triumphs.

It is no wonder that this campaign is now a toss-up and that Coakley’s supporters are coming out so hard against Mr. Brown.

EARLIER: Right-Wing Bloggers Turn Their Sights To Massachusetts

UPDATE: Allah Pundit

More Nate Silver

Laura Clawson at Daily Kos

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2012 Ain’t Nothing But A Number


Twenty-nine percent (29%) of Republican voters nationwide say former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee is their pick to represent the GOP in the 2012 Presidential campaign. The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 24% prefer former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney while 18% would cast their vote for former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich gets 14% of the vote while Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty gets 4%. Six percent (6%) of GOP voters prefer some other candidate while 7% remain undecided.

These numbers reflect an improvement for Huckabee since July when the three candidates were virtually even. Huckabee’s gain appears to be Palin’s loss as Romney’s support has barely changed.

Allah Pundit:

The person Republicans would least like to see win the nomination is … Tim Pawlenty? I thought the rap on T-Paw, at least for the moment, is that he didn’t inspire strong feelings one way or another. As for Sarahcuda, on the same day that he took the July poll, Rasmussen ran another one asking if her decision to resign would help or hurt her presidential ambitions. The split was 24/40 — and yet she was still ahead of Huckabee at the time. If it’s not her resignation that’s hurting her now, as I speculated this morning, what is? Too much Levi Johnston freak show collateral damage, maybe? I don’t think most people even know who he is.

Bruce Drake at Politics Daily

Roger L. Simon:

With Obama’s poll numbers down and the hapless Democratic Congress thrashing about for traction on virtually every issue, you would think these would be the glory days for the GOP. But one look at the results of the new Rasmussen Poll, trumpeted as a “shock” on Drudge, leave little to be shocked, or even surprised, about. Despite Huckabee’s mild ascendance, there is not one new face here or one new idea. It’s the same old, same old. Indeed even Palin at this point represents pretty conventional conservative thinking.

Of course on the other side of the ledger it’s worse. Even (or especially) with Obama’s increasingly tedious exhortations for “hope” and “change,” the Democrats aren’t offering us anything the slightest bit original. It’s just recycled LBJ. You would think in our high tech era there would be some thing new, but no. All the creative intelligence in our culture seems to be being invested in iPhone apps these days.

We can’t entirely blame the politicians, however. It is in the nature of that political culture NOT to reward original thought. And the media makes it worse. They don’t seem to be interested in the slightest in the search for new ideas. Everything is a score card. Who’s up? Who’s down? And, of course, in preserving their own liberal status quo. Nothing new there.

Andrew Stuttaford at Secular Right:

Palin’s pain has been Huckabee’s gain, it seems, as he appears to have picked up some of her support. Given the selection on offer, it’s probably not that surprising that Mitt Romney emerges as the preferred candidate of the wicked secular right (or at least among those Republicans “who attend church once a month or less”). Meanwhile, Pawlenty’s nod to the Intelligent Design crowd doesn’t (I’m delighted to say) seem to have done him much good so far. He’s the candidate that GOP voters would least like to see as the party’s pick, although I suspect that glorious distinction may in reality simply reflect the fact that Pawlenty is just not that well-known. Perhaps he should try coming out for UFOs next time.

We’re a long, long way from 2012, but there’s nothing in this poll that’s bad news for Obama. And that’s bad news.

Daniel Larison responds to Stuttaford:

Andrew Stuttaford cites a new Rasmussen poll of Republican presidential preferences showing some sizeable support for Huckabee, and he wonders if this means that the GOP will become the “party of Huckabee.” I think this is extremely unlikely. While Huckabee was officially the second-biggest vote-getter in the primaries last year, he achieved this mostly through perseverance and concentrated support from evangelical voters. Had Romney continued to compete and waste his money on what would still have been a losing bid, it is not certain that Huckabee could have managed his second place finish.


Even if it seems irrational, movement activists who are not primarily interested in social issues distrust Huckabee intensely, and they will work to block him and deny him funding just as they did last time. The anti-Huckabee sentiment among movement activists is a useful reminder that all the Republican culture war defenses of Palin during the general election were aimed at mobilizing all the people whose candidate, Huckabee, they had just spent the previous 18 months mocking and ridiculing with all of the same language used against Palin. For turnout purposes, the GOP still finds Huckabee’s people useful, but its leaders and activists will not tolerate Huckabee taking the lead in the party as the nominee.

The effect this will have, as Stuttaford’s post suggests, is that most Catholic, mainline Protestant and secular Republicans will rally to whichever anti-Huckabee candidate appears strongest. This will most likely mean a coalition of voters arrayed behind Romney, who will then be a far weaker draw in the general election than Huckabee would have been. At first, that sounds implausible. Surely the more “moderate,” less “sectarian” candidate should be able to win more support, right? No, not really, because the things that make Romney more attractive to non-evangelicals in the GOP also force him to spend more time trying to prove that evangelicals and social conservatives can accept him. Aside from the complication that his religion introduces into this, this means that Romney has to emphasize social issues, on which he has no credibility, and public professions of religious faith, which are some of the things that so many Republicans and independents find viscerally unappealing about what they perceive to be the norm in Republican politics. Huckabee does not need to do as much of this because he would already have much of the right locked down. Like McCain, Romney will continually be trying to satisfy people on the right who cannot muster much enthusiasm for him, but who will wrongly conclude that he is more “electable.” That could involve another desperate VP nomination to generate interest or a campaign that actually moves right after the primaries are over. Fear of their own evangelicals could lead Republicans to embrace a technoratic wonk whom most voters will not be able to trust and whom most conservatives grudgingly accept because he is not Huckabee.

James Joyner, responding to Larison:

In fact, the 2008 Republican race wasn’t even a contest.  Mitt Romney quit the race during CPAC on February 7 and pledged his delegates to McCain.   Rudy Giuliani had failed to make his push in Florida — coming in way behind Romney, who finished second.  The race was over.

Except that, technically, it wasn’t.  Huckabee stayed in the race, along with Ron Paul, despite no chance of beating John McCain for the nomination.  As a result, they padded their totals as everyone not happy with McCain as the nominee had to vote for one of them.  And, really, since Paul was a fringe candidate, that meant Huckabee.

The results, per CNN, are at right.

The fact of the matter was the Huckabee, a virtual unknown at the beginning of the contest, was mostly a stalking horse.  Huckabee finally withdrew on March 5, once McCain mathematically sewed up the race on his own — that is, not counting Romney’s delegates.   As I wrote at the time:

“But let’s not get carried away, either. He’s a personable fellow who went a long way with very little money, a weak organization, and zero Establishment support. But there was no time in this race when it was plausible that he’d be the nominee. He won Iowa as the “anybody but Mitt Romney” candidate in a contest McCain, Giuliani, and others skipped. He didn’t win again until garbage time, when he was running as “the conservative alternative” to a man who had all but sewn up the nomination.

Huckabee will not win the nomination in 2012. Or 2016. Or 2020. He’d easily win a Senate seat from Arkansas if he changes his mind. But he’s not going to be elected president.”

I  stand by that assessment.

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