New Op-ed at Fox News: Obama's Running Mate Biden Has Rare Political Trait: Decency

This is the beginning of my newest piece:

Decency is rare in life, but it seems even rarer in politics where so much often is at stake. As government has grown and more is at stake, the niceties that make life civil have become expendable.

I have always been struck by the decency of Senator Joe Biden, Barack Obama's Vice Presidential nominee. But there is one memory that I particularly recall when I think of him.

Back in late May 2001, when the Senate was evenly divided with 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, every vote counted in trying to pass President Bush's tax bill. Senator James Jeffords hadn't yet officially become an independent. Democrats were putting up amendment after amendment to try to defeat the tax bill, and the debate was lasting late into the evening.

Senator Joseph Biden noticed that 98-year-old Republican Senator Strom Thurmond was looking quite ill. But Thurmond couldn't leave because the Republicans needed his vote. Biden, seeing the predicament, offered a solution. He offered to "pair" his votes with Thurmond. Biden promised not to vote while Thurmond left the floor so that the passage of amendments would remain unchanged. It was the decent thing to do.

. . .

The piece goes on to discuss how Obama could learn something from Biden on how to deal with people.

UPDATE: Here is an alternative viewpoint from David Greenberg at Slate:

The sheer number and extent of Biden's fibs, distortions, and plagiarisms struck many observers at the time as worrisome, to say the least. While a media feeding frenzy (a term popularized in the 1988 campaign) always creates an unseemly air of hysteria, Biden deserved the scrutiny he received. Quitting the race was the right thing to do. . . .

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Some whoppers of exaggerations by Biden

On Biden exaggerating his record from SanDiego.com:

Most of Mr. Biden's statement was in response to a report in this week's issue of Newsweek magazine on a tape recording made by the C-SPAN network of an appearance by Mr. Biden at a home in Claremont, N.H., on April 3. It was a typical coffee-klatch style appearance before a small group. The network regularly records and broadcasts such events as part of its coverage of the Presidential campaign.

The tape, which was made available by C-SPAN in response to a reporter's request, showed a testy exchange in response to a question about his law school record from a man identified only as ''Frank.'' Mr. Biden looked at his questioner and said: ''I think I have a much higher I.Q. than you do.''

He then went on to say that he ''went to law school on a full academic scholarship - the only one in my class to have a full academic scholarship,'' Mr. Biden said. He also said that he ''ended up in the top half'' of his class and won a prize in an international moot court competition. In college, Mr. Biden said in the appearance, he was ''the outstanding student in the political science department'' and ''graduated with three degrees from college.'' Comments on Assertions

In his statement today, Mr. Biden, who attended the Syracuse College of Law and graduated 76th in a class of 85, acknowledged: ''I did not graduate in the top half of my class at law school and my recollection of this was inacurate.''

As for receiving three degrees, Mr. Biden said: ''I graduated from the University of Delaware with a double major in history and political science. My reference to degrees at the Claremont event was intended to refer to these majors - I said 'three' and should have said 'two.' '' Mr. Biden received a single B.A. in history and political science.

''With regard to my being the outstanding student in the political science department,'' the statement went on. ''My name was put up for that award by David Ingersoll, who is still at the University of Delaware.''

In the Sunday interview, Mr. Biden said of his claim that he went to school on full academic scholarship: ''My recollection is - and I'd have to confirm this - but I don't recall paying any money to go to law school.'' Newsweek said Mr. Biden had gone to Syracuse ''on half scholarship based on financial need.'' Says He Also Received Grant

In his statement today, Mr. Biden did not directly dispute this, but said he received a scholarship from the Syracuse University College of Law ''based in part on academics'' as well as a grant from the Higher Education Scholarship Fund of the state of Delaware. He said the law school ''arranged for my first year's room and board by placing me as an assitant resident adviser in the undergraduate school.''

As for the moot court competition, Mr. Biden said he had won such a competition, with a partner, in Kingston, Ontario, on Dec. 12, 1967.

Mr. Biden acknowledged that in the testy exchange in New Hampshire, he had lost his temper. ''I exaggerate when I'm angry,'' Mr. Biden said, ''but I've never gone around telling people things that aren't true about me.'' Mr. Biden's questioner had made the query in a mild tone, but provoked an explosive response from Mr. Biden.

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One of Biden's weaknesses

Revisiting Biden's tendency to speak without thinking:

Loose Lips Sink Ships

Over the course of his presidential bid, Biden cemented his reputation as -- how to put this nicely? -- less than disciplined on the campaign trail.

In the summer of 2006, as he was publicly mulling the race, Biden set off a controversy over comments he made about Indian Americans.

"I've had a great relationship [with Indian Americans]," Biden said. "In Delaware, the largest growth in population is Indian-Americans moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking."

On the day he formally announced his candidacy, a New York Observer story that quoted Biden as calling Obama "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy" came out, and the resultant uproar effectively undercut any momentum Biden was hoping to build.

While Biden was on his best verbal behavior for much of the rest of the campaign, there is no question that his tendency to shoot from the lip worries some in Obama world. As one Democratic consultant put it: "You know there will be three days in the campaign where someone in Chicago will get a call and respond -- 'What did you say he said?.'" . . . .

At least Biden doesn't lack for self-confidence:

"I think I have a much higher IQ than you do."

Some Democrats in the media are not too happy with Obama's choice:

The picks say something profound about Obama: For all his self-confidence, the 47-year-old Illinois senator worried that he couldn't beat Republican John McCain without help from a seasoned politician willing to attack. The Biden selection is the next logistical step in an Obama campaign that has become more negative - a strategic decision that may be necessary but threatens to run counter to his image. . . .

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No room for balloons at the Dem's green convention

This just shows how far the silliness goes. Even though the balloons are made out of latex, "whose chief ingredient is made from the sap of rubber trees, will degrade at the same rate as an oak leaf, in similar conditions," the Dems have set up their own compost pile to test this out.

The Democrats might let the air out of a convention tradition at August's party confab in Denver. Concern over the environment, intensified by the fact that Barack Obama's nomination speech will be outside, has the Democrats unsure what they'll do. Meanwhile, the Republicans won't have the same problem, since their nomination speech will be indoors, but say they're concerned about the environment, too.

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Relationships during the Olympics

The London Times has this discussion about relationships that develop during the Olympic games:

it is worth noting an intriguing dichotomy between the sexes in respect of all this coupling. The chaps who win gold medals - even those as geeky as Michael Phelps - are the principal objects of desire for many female athletes. There is something about sporting success that makes a certain type of woman go crazy - smiling, flirting and sometimes even grabbing at the chaps who have done the business in the pool or on the track. An Olympic gold medal is not merely a route to fame and fortune; it is also a surefire ticket to writhe.

But - and this is the thing - success does not work both ways. Gold-medal winning female athletes are not looked upon by male athletes with any more desire than those who flunked out in the first round. . . .

This certainly sounds consistent with what one would expect given social biology.


Ethics problems in Washington State: Governor negotiating behind closed doors with unions who contribute large amounts to her campaign

A podcast of Sonya Jones' interview on KIRO with Dori Monson is here.



Even the NY Times recognizes that Women will never run as fast as Men

Testosterone is apparently the key difference.

BEIJING — No matter what happens in the men’s marathon here Sunday, one thing is all but certain. The winner will run the 26.2-mile course faster than the winner of the women’s marathon last Sunday.

The woman who won, Constantina Tomescu of Romania, was fast, of course, finishing the race in 2 hours 26 minutes 44 seconds — more than a minute ahead of the second-place finisher. But for a variety of intrinsic biological reasons, the best women can never run as fast as the best men, exercise researchers say.

Women are slower than men in running, in swimming, in cycling. Whether it is a 100-meter race on the track or a marathon, a 200-meter butterfly swim or a 10-kilometer marathon swim, the pattern holds.

And even though some scientists once predicted that women would eventually close the gender gap in elite performances — it was proposed that all they needed was more experience, better training and stronger coaching — that idea is now largely discredited, at least for Olympic events. Researchers say there is no one physiological reason for the gap, although there is a common biological thread.

“To a large extent, it’s a matter of testosterone,” said Dr. Benjamin Levine, director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Presbyterian Hospital and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “That’s why systematic doping of women is even more effective than systematic doping of men. That’s why the East German women were so much more successful than the East German men.”

The hormone affects everything from muscle size and strength to the size of the heart to the amount of oxygen-carrying blood cells in the body to the percentage of fat on an athlete’s body. Every one of those effects gives men a performance advantage.

Testosterone, Levine said, gives men what he calls a bigger and better-fueled engine. Their skeletal muscles, which do the work during exercise, are bigger. And their hearts, which provide fuel for the work, are bigger, too.

It is not that every man is inherently better than every woman.

“A very lean, well-trained woman will be faster than a less lean, less fit man,” he said. But that is not the issue in the Olympics, where the men and women are among the world’s best. . . .

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FEC rejects Dems claim that McCain violated Public Financing Laws

The Politico has this story:

John McCain was spared some potentially embarrassing legal trouble early Thursday afternoon, when the Federal Election Commission voted unanimously to let his presidential campaign out of the primary election public financing system.

The vote takes the air out of Democrats’ claims that McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, had broken the rules of the system, an accusation Democrats have wielded to try to undercut McCain’s image as a campaign finance reformer.

The Democratic National Committee in February filed a complaint with the commission asserting that McCain ran afoul of the system by qualifying for its funds, using the possibility of receiving them to secure a loan, but then withdrawing from the system and exceeding its spending limits.

But the commission ruled that McCain did not actually receive the funds or pledge them as collateral for a loan — and that, therefore, he could withdraw from the system without penalty. . . . .

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Right Now Dems Looking to Pick up Six Seats in Senate

If true, this would probably effectively let Dems overcome any filibusters. A detailed discussion can be found here.


Why McCain is doing better in the polls

Blake Dvorak from the WSJ's Political Diary:

Reasons for the McCain Surge? Republicans (not Independents and Democrats)

One surprising finding in last week's Pew Research poll on the presidential election is that Sen. John McCain has stronger support among Republican voters than Sen. Barack Obama does among Democratic voters. Since June, Mr. McCain has increased his support among Republicans by five points, from 82% to 87%. By contrast, Mr. Obama increased his support among Democrats by just one point, 82% to 83%.

These numbers are surprising because they go against conventional wisdom. Mr. McCain was supposed to be the one having trouble with his base, while Mr. Obama was supposed to quickly sew up the schism with Hillary Clinton supporters and unite his party. In fact, according to Pew, Mr. Obama has 72% support from former Clinton backers, exactly where it was a month ago.

So what can we glean from Pew's numbers in terms of optimizing each candidate's respective vice presidential choice? First, although the poll suggests that Mr. Obama should choose Mrs. Clinton, he has likely already made his decision and it's not Hillary, which won't make wooing alienated Clinton fans any easier. For Mr. McCain, who is believed to be still mulling his options, Pew's numbers should bring a sigh of relief as well as a sense of caution. Mr. McCain's relationship with the Republican base has always been contentious, so its support should not be taken for granted. His Veep selection should be aimed at shoring up that support even as he makes a play for the middle. . . .

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Salaries for careers: study engineering and economics?

Picking a career. Interestingly, economics tends to have the largest absolute increase in salary over one's career. It seems like there is an interesting economics question about to what extent the higher salaries are due to being more difficult majors and the students being smarter and the value added from the major.


The penalties for Identity Fraud

47 years for six stolen identities.

A 1400 SAT, a Stolen Identity, and Now a Guilty Plea From a Former Columbia Student

A woman pleaded guilty on Tuesday to stealing the identity of a missing woman in order to attend Columbia University, the Associated Press reported.

Esther Elizabeth Reed, who is 30, faces up to 47 years in prison and $1-million in fines for identity-theft, mail-fraud, wire-fraud, and loan-fraud charges. Ms. Reed was arrested earlier this year and accused of using the identity of Brooke Henson, a South Carolina woman who has been missing since 1999, to get into Columbia and obtain student loans.

Prosecutors say that, starting in 2001, Ms. Reed juggled six false identities to attend Columbia and California State University at Fullerton, according to the AP. Previous news reports have said Ms. Reed was also admitted to Harvard University under a false identity. At Columbia, at least, prosecutors say Ms. Reed did gain admission using her own SAT score, a 1400. —Elyse Ashburn


Microsoft Enlists Jerry Seinfeld in Ad War Against Apple, but media doesn't he is a Mac user

Microsoft has hired Jerry Seinfeld for $10 million to help with Vista's image problems. Yet, Seinfeld is reportedly a Mac user.


Government putting private universities at a disadvantage

After Walter WIlliams' column this week on my book, Eugene Hiller, a former member of the Alumni Board for the University of Buffalo wrote his:

I am surprised you know about the University of Buffalo. I was on the Alumni Board when it happened; Rockefeller was Governor.
They ccame to us and said as you wrote: "We will put a low cost State U. next to you and wipe you out". At the time, UB was an excellant private university. Though underendowed, it served the area well providing most of the Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants and Pharmacists for the area.
The community plus is that Suny Buffalo is now the largest employer in Western Nrw York.

It was interesting that today I came across a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education about special regulations being impoased on for-profit universities:

California Assembly Approves Bill to Revive Oversight of For-Profit Colleges

Berkeley, Calif. — The California Assembly approved a bill on Tuesday that would renew oversight of the state’s 1,700 for-profit colleges, the latest attempt to settle a long-running battle over how strictly the colleges should be regulated.

The 132-page measure, SB 823, was approved in a 43-to-32 vote and now heads to the Senate, the Contra Costa Timesreported. The authority of the state agency that previously oversaw for-profit colleges expired on July 1, and lawmakers have been unable to agree on a way to restore it. Without such oversight, students at proprietary colleges are unable to file complaints or to recover expenses if their institutions go out of business.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has not taken a position on the bill.

The argument over for-profit colleges here, which is being watched closely in other states, has stretched on for several years. Consumer groups have argued that students need better protection and colleges need to report more-accurate data about their performance. Companies that own for-profit colleges have argued that bureaucratic red tape has prevented them from offering new programs.

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Study: Women live longer if they have grandchildren, men live longer if they have multiple wives

From Fox News:

Some men may think one is bad enough. But a study suggests the key to a long life may be to get a second wife.

Researchers from the U.K.'s University of Sheffield looked at men older than 60 from 140 countries that practice polygamy and found that they lived an average of 12 percent longer than men from 49 monogamous nations, according to a report from the Times of India.

The study's findings were presented last week at the International Society for Behavioral Ecology’s annual meetingin Ithaca, New York, according to the report.

Researchers looked to previous research on women to answer why polygamous men live longer and chalk it up to a variation of the "grandmother effect."

Scientists believe women, who live considerably longer post-menopause than other mammals, do so because the longer they live the more grandchildren they have to dote on. Caring for grandchildren, it seems, gives women a reason to live long after they're no longer able to reproduce.

Doting on grandchildren, however, does not have the same life-lengthening benefits for men. But men are able to reproduce into their 60s, 70s and 80s. So it would seem, researchers said, that polygamous men experience a sort of father effect, meaning, the more wives they have, the more children they father. Fathering children gives them a reason to continue living longer than monogamous men who often stop fathering children at much earlier ages, researchers concluded.



"Too cold for Global Warming Relay"

Here is an amusing story from the Lithgow Mercury in Australia:

Climate change may be THE hot international issue of the moment but enthusiasm for the cause clearly wanes on a freezing Friday afternoon when the campaign moves to a mountain top where the wind chill factor is below zero.
This was perhaps the predictably disappointing outcome when the GetUp! climate change lobby group organised an enviro torch relay from Hassans Walls Lookout to Queen Elizabeth Park to focus public attention on the issue.

Ironically, global warming would probably have been welcomed by the handful of hardy souls who turned up to lend their support to the campaign on one of the coldest Lithgow days of this or any other year.

The wind and solar powered torch — created by the designers of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Torch — was carried to The Walls by two pedal cyclists.

There it was handed over to the small group of supporters who stuck to their task and ignored the big chill while on their way to Elizabeth Park.

The climate change torch continued its journey around Bathurst on Saturday where it was greeted by a big crowd at a schoolboy Rugby Union carnival at St Stanislaus College oval. . . .

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Walter Williams discusses Freedomnomics

Walter's entire piece can be seen here:

By taking a couple of courses in economic theory, we could immunize ourselves from nonsense spouted by politicians and pundits, but in the meantime check out Professor John R. Lott's "Freedomnomics: Why the Free Market Works."

His first chapter is "Are You Being Ripped Off?" It addresses myths about predation where it's sometimes alleged that corporations will charge below-cost prices to bankrupt their rivals and then charge unconscionable prices. There's little or no evidence that corporations would choose predation as strategy; there are too many pitfalls. A major one is that in order to recoup losses from charging low prices to bankrupt rivals, the predator would later have to charge higher-than-normal prices. That would attract new rivals who might have purchased the bankrupt assets of the predator's prey and be able to undercut the predator's prices. . . .

Thanks, Walter.

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The Craziness of Academia: the Association of American Law Schools boycott

The Chronicle of Higher Education notes this:

Law-Schools Meeting Finds a Way to Deal With Boycott Threat

The Association of American Law Schools may have found a way out of a sticky situation. The association had contracted with the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel, in San Diego, several years ago to hold its annual meeting there next January. But The San Diego Union-Tribune reported in March that the hotel’s owner was a prominent contributor to an effort to amend the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages, and several groups had threatened to boycott the meeting unless the association moved it to another hotel.

According to a statement adopted by its executive committee late last week, the association had also booked rooms at the San Diego Marriott, and the contracts left the choice of where to locate specific events — such as registration, an exhibit hall, and representatives’ meetings — up to the association. “We will honor our contracts with both hotels, and we have exercised our option to hold all AALS events at the Marriott to ensure the maximum participation by our members,” the statement reads. . . .

The Chronicle left out one little embarrassing fact. What makes this story particularly funny and newsworthy is that the Association of American Law Schools went through huge efforts to boycott a hotel because of the owner's support for banning same-sex marriage but failed to see that the Marriott and Hyatt are BOTH owned by people who support amending the California Constitution to ban same-sex marriages. Here are some sources on this here and here.


Obama caught making up false record on abortion to mollify opposition from pro-lifers

John Fund at the WSJ's Political Diary:

Obama's Abortion Position? It's a One-liner

. . . Mr. Obama eroded many of those gains [with pro-life voters] last Saturday when he told Pastor Rick Warren during a nationally televised forum that deciding when the rights of personhood should be extended to the unborn was "above my pay grade." Even Doug Kmiec, a conservative Pepperdine University lawyer who has become one of Mr. Obama's most prominent pro-life backers, was unsettled. He called the candidate's answer "much too glib for something this serious."

Mr. Obama compounded his problems after the forum when in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, he accused pro-life groups of "lying" about his record in the Illinois State Senate on legislation that would have protected viable babies born after botched abortions. Mr. Obama acknowledged voting against the bill but said he would have voted "yes" if the bill had contained language similar to a federal bill's language making clear that the intention wasn't to diminish overall abortion rights. But, as recently revealed, the Illinois bill had indeed included such language and Mr. Obama still voted against it.

"Senator Obama got caught in the twisting of the truth," says Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council. "His campaign was later forced to put out a clarifying statement that it was the Senator himself who was actually wrong on the facts. He did indeed vote against a bill in the Illinois State Senate that was identical to the federal legislation that sought to protect babies who survive abortions."

Mr. Obama's stand on the issue is significant. The federal "Born Alive Infant Protection Act" sailed through the Senate in 2001 on a vote of 98 to 0. The bill was supported by Senator Barbara Boxer, the body's leading pro-choice spokeswoman, and was not opposed by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. By getting his facts wrong, Mr. Obama is now in the difficult position of trying to explain why he voted against a bill that the legislative record shows addressed infanticide rather than abortion. . . .

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Survey of Partisan Drinking Behavior

Beam Global Spirits & Wine (NYSE:FO) of Deerfield, Ill., partnered with a research firm to survey 100 bartenders in the D.C. area to find the drinking preferences of the competing political parties. . . .

Just a warning to begin with, I wonder whether these results tell us more about the political preferences of the bartenders than their patrons.

The survey found that 60 percent of area bartenders regard Democrats as the better tippers. Republicans had the edge when it came to being seen as serious drinkers.

Eighty-two percent of bartenders said Republicans are more likely to order a drink straight up, and 58 percent pegged Democrats as being more likely to order a fruity, pink drink.

Democrats had the edge in two other categories as well: pickup lines (74 percent said Democrats had better ones) and toasts (63 percent said Democrats were better at delivery them than members of the GOP).

It’s unclear which persuasion spends more time at the bar. More bartenders (53 percent) thought Democrats were the last to leave, but more (50 percent) also pegged Republicans as the first to arrive at happy hour.

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Finally a convincing explanation for why we need government education bureaucrats

Warning: you should be seated and not eating or drinking anything while you watch this.

If you want to see the rest of the program, here are part 1, part 2, and part 4. It is all quite good.

"The only people who will like this are the parents and the children . . ."


Great Grandmother holds Burglar at bay with gun

A video of the woman can be found here:

LAKE LYNN, Pa. -- An 85-year-old great-grandmother from Lake Lynn, Fayette County kept an alleged burglar at bay using a .22-caliber pistol.
According to police, a 17-year-old suspect was attempting to burglarize Leda Smith overnight.
That's when Smith grabbed her gun and told the teen that she would shoot him if he moved, police said.
"I had the gun on him before he turned around and said, 'you've had it,' " Smith told Channel 11-News.
According to police, Smith ordered the boy to dial 911 and then gave him some advice.
"Dial 911 and don't attempt to throw the phone at me, or do anything bad or i'll just shoot you," Smith said.
When police arrived, they took the teen into custody. . . . .


New Op-ed at Fox News: Obama's Tax Follies

The new piece for Fox News starts like this:

Not all tax cuts are the same. The question isn’t just how much money taxpayers get to keep or are given, but the impact that taxes have on how hard people work. Tax plans that try to help the poor can sometimes become traps, making it difficult for the poor to climb out of poverty.

One approach is to lower the marginal tax rate, the percentage taken for each additional dollar they earn. The other increase tax deductions and credits, but phases them out as people’s income increases.

Take something such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, a program designed to help guarantee the poor a certain level of income. The desire to help the poor is understandable, but it also creates its own problems. Giving more money to people, the poorer they are, also means that the more income these poor individuals make, the more government assistance is taken away from them. Just as higher taxes discourage work, the loss of a significant portion of one’s deductions and credits will also discourage work.

Senator McCain’s proposals have top marginal income tax rates of 35 percent for individuals and 25 percent for corporations, while Senator Obama’s plan has rates of 39.6 and 35 percent respectively. But the official marginal tax rate isn’t the rate that people actually pay because they also lose tax breaks as their income rises. . . .

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The Washington Post acknowledges Bias in the McCain/Obama race

Good for the Washington Post Ombudsman:

Democrat Barack Obama has had about a 3 to 1 advantage over Republican John McCain in Post Page 1 stories since Obama became his party's presumptive nominee June 4. Obama has generated a lot of news by being the first African American nominee, and he is less well known than McCain -- and therefore there's more to report on. But the disparity is so wide that it doesn't look good.

In overall political stories from June 4 to Friday, Obama dominated by 142 to 96. Obama has been featured in 35 stories on Page 1; McCain has been featured in 13, with three Page 1 references with photos to stories on inside pages. Fifteen stories featured both candidates and were about polls or issues such as terrorism, Social Security and the candidates' agreement on what should be done in Afghanistan.

This dovetails with Obama's dominance in photos, which I pointed out two weeks ago. At that time, it was 122 for Obama and 78 for McCain. Two weeks later, it's 143 to 100, almost the same gap, because editors have run almost the same number of photos -- 21 of Obama and 22 of McCain -- since they realized the disparity. McCain is almost even with Obama in Page 1 photos -- 10 to 9.

This is not just a Post phenomenon. The Project for Excellence in Journalism has been monitoring campaign coverage at an assortment of large and medium-circulation newspapers, broadcast evening and morning news shows, five news Web sites, three major cable news networks, and public radio and other radio outlets. Its latest report, for the week of Aug. 4-10, shows that for the eighth time in nine weeks, Obama received significantly more coverage than McCain. . . .


Follow up on Jerry Lewis accidentally trying to carry a gun on a plane

Apparently, Jerry Lewis is a gun owner. The explanation that I posted to before that it was a prop gun that a relative had put in his bag was not correct. In any case, it is clear that Lewis made a simple mistake and was not a threat to anyone. Hopefully, the zero tolerance laws will show a little intelligence here.

LOS ANGELES (AP) Jerry Lewis tells "Entertainment Tonight" that a gun found in his carryon bag at the Las Vegas airport last month was a gift from an engraver that he put in a travel bag a year ago and forgot. His manager had previously said the weapon was a prop gun.

Hat tip to Jeff Soyer.


LaSalle County (Illinois) to Vote on Carrying Concealed Handguns

Given that Illinois is one of only two states that ban people carrying concealed handguns, this was interesting. It is nonbinding, but it is amazing that the resolution was passed 25 to 0.

LaSalle County Board members voted unanimously Thursday to put a referendum on the Nov. 4 ballot asking voters if they support the right to carry concealed firearms.

The resolution was passed 25-0, with board Chairman Jerry Hicks abstaining. Robert Jakupcak, Ronald Dittmer and Thomas Ganiere were absent.

"All comments made on the referendum were pretty much favorable," said board member Randy Freeman. "The only concern the sheriff (Tom Templeton) brought up was making sure it referenced House Bill 1304 to have state police doing the issuing, testing and background checks if it's passed."

The County Board's sheriff and rules committee recently passed a unanimous resolution to put a referendum on the ballot. During Thursday's full board meeting, State's Attorney Brian Towne said while he'd like to remain neutral on the referendum, he thinks it will have to go through several amendments before it's finally enacted. . . .

Hat tip to Jeff Soyer.


I am starting to like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt more and more

With wild, crazy attacks such as this, I have to believe that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are reasonable people.

Roseanne Barr slams Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in a post on her Web site, calling Jolie the "evil spawn" of actor Jon Voight and Pitt her "vacuous hubby."

"Your evil spawn Angelina Jolie and her vacuous hubby Brad Pitt make about $40 million a year in violent, psychopathic movies and give away three of it to starving children, trying to look as if they give a crap about humanity as they spit out more dunces that will consume more than their fair share and wreck the earth even more," Roseanne writes in a post titled "Jon Voight." . . .

"Miss Jolie says she likes [John] McCain too and hasn't decided who to endorse....huh? Aren't you supposed to be somewhat enlightened, or do you not know that the African daughter you hold in every picture had parents who suffered and died because of the Republican party's worldwide economic assault on Africa over the last few decades since Reagan?" . . .

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John Fund on Obama's explanation for his poor showing on Saturday

John Fund in today's WSJ's Political Diary:

Sore Loser

The Barack Obama campaign apparently went outside the normal spin guardrails yesterday in trying to explain how John McCain did so well in Saturday's Saddleback Forum with Pastor Rick Warren. As NBC's Andrea Mitchell noted on Sunday's "Meet the Press," what the Obama campaign is "putting out privately is that McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama. . . . He seemed so well prepared."

But Pastor Rick Warren assured CNN that Mr. McCain didn't hear any of the questions in advance, even if the candidate was stuck in traffic and was a bit late arriving to the pre-arranged quiet room or "cone of silence." Charlie Black, a McCain adviser who was with him at the time, confirmed that Mr. McCain was in a motorcade and "then a holding room in another building with no TV." . . .

For its part, the Obama campaign officially says it now assumes both candidates were equally unaware of the questions and isn't interested in pursuing the matter. . . .

Byron York reports this:

In addition, according to Ross, Obama knew a third specific question that Warren would ask — the one about a "president's emergency plan for adoption." "[Warren] felt that since that was basically asking for a commitment, he felt that it was fair to tell them in advance that he was going to ask them that," Ross told me. So Warren told Obama, and planned to tell McCain when McCain arrived at Saddleback, but wasn't able to because of other distractions. So according to what Ross told me, Obama actually knew one more question in advance than did McCain. . . .

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McCain has a relatively small lead over Obama among hunters

Politico has this new poll from last week here:

According to a Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation poll to be released Wednesday, John McCain leads Obama by 45 percent to 31 percent. That’s only about half the 27-point edge respondents say they gave George W. Bush over Kerry four years ago and far short of the 65 percent gun owners gave to Bush over Gore's 15 percent in 2000.

The poll of 1,009 hunters and fishermen, conducted by Braun Research between July 10-24, could be a reflection of McCain’s up-and-down relationship with gun advocates and suggests the presumptive GOP nominee has not yet persuaded a core Republican constituency. . . .

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Any interesting lecture on why you "Don't talk to the Police"

This is outside my normal postings, but I thought that the lecture here was very interesting. Here is the "other" side from a former detective who agrees with the first speaker.


Why campaign finance limits will matter in the Fall

Chuck Todd had this to say on Meet the Press:

But the most remarkable thing, I think about the map is how the toss-ups are fairly steady. McCain is strong in the places that he's campaigning and advertising. Now, he is a limited amount of states that he's advertising in. He's only in about 11 of the battleground states, Obama's trying to expand the playing field, he's advertising in 18 and you see that difference. In those seven states that only Obama's in, his numbers have moved up a lot more and obviously McCain hasn't, but in those other states, McCain's holding steady and even has a lead in some of them.

Here is also what I quoted previously about the impact of Obama's large campaign expenditures in Florida.

These examples show why campaign expenditures matter and with Obama having a 5-to-1 or so advantage over McCain, this is going to be a very difficult campaign. The 50 state campaign planned by Obama is going to increase Democratic turnout everywhere. I worry about a huge down ballot benefit for Democrats.



2008 Democratic Platform on Gun Control

See page 48 here:

We recognize that the right to bear arms is an important part of the American tradition, and we will preserve Americans' Second Amendment right to own and use firearms. We believe that the right to own firearms is subject to reasonable regulation, but we know that what works in Chicago may not work in Cheyenne. We can work together to enact and enforce commonsense laws and improvements - like closing the gun show loophole, improving our background check system, and reinstating the assault weapons ban, so that guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals. Acting responsibly and with respect for differing views on this issue, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our communities and our children safe.

Despite Obama's claims about the Supreme Court agreeing with him on overturning the DC gun ban, the statement that "we know that what works in Chicago" sure seems to support the Chicago gun ban.

Meanwhile, Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer is telling reporters that Obama "ain't ever going to take your gun away." But the DNC Platform discussions about the Chicago ban and "reinstating the assault weapons ban" seem inconsistent with that.

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Trying to keep a rough count of a couple Soviet (oops, Russian) denials

See this:

Just hours before Mr Medvedev put his signature to the ceasefire deal, Russian forces blew up a Georgian railway bridge on the main line west of the capital, Tbilisi, an act that critics interpreted as a malacious attempt to cripple the country's infrastructure. Moscow at first issued a denial, but television footage shot by the Reuters news agency clearly showed the bridge's twisted remains. . . .

See this:

"Russia currently is not in compliance with that cease-fire," Rice said. "I don't have an explanation because I would think that when the Russian president says that a signed cease-fire accord will mean the withdrawal of Russian forces, that Russian forces would then withdraw. They did not. However, yet again, the Russian president has given his word, and this time, I hope he'll honor it." . . .

See this:

President Dmitri Medvedev promised European negotiators early Wednesday morning that Russia would halt its brutal attacks on Georgia and begin withdrawing its troops. A few hours later, Russian tanks rolled into the strategic crossroads town of Gori - just 40 miles from Georgia's capital, Tbilisi. . . .

Or this:

Russia's assertions that it was provoked into war by "genocide" in South Ossetia and that it is observing a cease-fire in Georgia came under new challenge Thursday, as the U.S. stepped up diplomatic pressure on Moscow. . . .

On the ground in South Ossetia -- the contested region where fighting broke out last week between Georgia and Russia -- there was little evidence that Georgian attacks killed thousands of civilians, as Russia has said. Doctors said they had treated a few hundred people and one cited a confirmed death toll in the dozens. . . . .

Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, said his nation is a victim of a "disinformation campaign of spectacular proportions." He said Russian troops "have never occupied Gori." . . .


Texas Authorities Again Goes After Polygamist Sect's Children

Well, eight children is a lot fewer than 440 children. The difference could hardly be more dramatic, but possibly the Child Protective Services felt that they had to do something to save face. After two months one would think that CPS would have had time to build a very strong case, but if CPS loses on these few cases, it will really show an agency that is out of control. The AP has the story here:

SAN ANGELO, Texas — More than two months after being forced to return children from a polygamist sect to their parents, Texas child welfare authorities want eight youngsters put back in foster care.

Individual hearings for the four mothers of the children, who range in age from 5 to 17, are set to begin Monday.

Child Protective Services has asked a judge to return the children to foster care because their mothers have allegedly refused to limit their contact with men accused of being involved in underage marriages.

"We continue to have concerns in particular for these eight children, which is why we have asked the judge to review the case," said CPS spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner.

None of the children live at the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, from where authorities took roughly 440 children into foster care in April. Officials said the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which established the ranch, was forcing girls into underage marriages and grooming boys to be adult abusers.

The Texas Supreme Court forced CPS to return the children to their parents six weeks after they were placed in foster care because the agency presented evidence of no more than a handful of teenage girls being abused. Many of the children taken into CPS custody were infants and toddlers. . . .


Something to remember: The sacrifices that others make for us

Thanks to Wade Price for sending me this link.


NBC Air Conditioned Outdoors Set for Beijing Olympics

Wasn't this the network that was haranguing everyone to cut back on their energy usage? Personally, if the benefits from them using energy exceed the costs, they should use the energy. Surely, one can understand that you don't want anchors drowning in their own perspiration while doing a show, but it would be nice if the news media understood this trade-off for the rest of the country. The Business & Media Institute has a discussion here:

The NBC family of networks has no problem showing viewers how to save the planet. But if it is a muggy, smoggy 85 degrees, as is the forecast for Beijing this week, consider looking elsewhere for eco-inspiration.

WTHR, the NBC affiliate for Indianapolis, reported from Beijing and described the NBC set used for the network's two highest rated news broadcasts, “NBC Nightly News” and “Today,” as air conditioned – even though it is outdoors.

“The set is outside, but air conditioning vents make the weather bearable,” Anne Marie Tiernon wrote for WTHR Eyewitness News on August 14.

Even NBC “Today” co-host Matt Lauer remarked about the air conditioning, but said it was still uncomfortable even with it.

“The first couple of nights even with the air conditioning it was steamy in here, but we've been lucky ever since,” Lauer said to WTHR. “It’s been overcast some days, takes the temperature down. We call it fog smog.”

Last fall, the network performed a publicity stunt on its November 4 broadcast of its highly rated Sunday Night NFL Football show, “Football Night in America.” The broadcast used limited lighting for the broadcast and even went completely dark for the final moments of the program. . . .

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