The Obama Chronicles

THE OBAMA CHRONICLES....Michael Ledeen is worried about Barack Obama:

I have nothing against hanging out with Marxist radicals. Some of my best friends are still Marxist radicals. I learn from them, even though I don't agree with them very often. But what's alarming about Obama is that he seems to have predominantly radical friends.

....And that pattern of behavior seems to me...to be a harbinger of the ideological nature of an Obama presidency....I fear that one of the catastrophes of an Obama Administration would be a high density of intellectual radicals, and not just on domestic policy, not just an increase in self-destructive political correctness in the schools and the media (the stifling of dissent in talk radio, etc. etc.), but also in foreign policy, where, as Andy tells us, Obama is a fan of dangerous characters like Odinga.

Remember way back in....oh....February? The conservative conventional wisdom at the time regarding Obama was remarkably sanguine. Sure, sure, he was a liberal, but he was thoughtful, cautious, nonradical, and always seemed willing to take the other guy's side into account. If this really did turn out to be a Democratic year — well, we could do a lot worse than Barack Obama.

Now, a change of heart was always in the cards. Once the campaign really heated up we'd hear about his likely Supreme Court nominations, his liberal voting record, his elite Ivy League background, etc. etc. That's all in a day's work. But it's not what happened. The conservative intelligentsia may not be quite willing to baldly support the "Obama is a secret Muslim" trope — that's a little too....common — but a significant chunk of them really, truly seem to believe that Obama is a Manchurian candidate of some kind. That he's a genuine 60s-vintage radical leftist hiding behind a carefully constructed, smooth-tongued exterior. And much like the John Birch Society conspiracy theorists of the same era, their best evidence of this is the very fact that he's thoughtful, cautious, nonradical, and always seems willing to take the other guy's side into account. Just look at his advisors — or should I say, "advisors"? His economic team is headed by Austan Goolsbee, Jason Furman, and these guys. His foreign policy team? Susan Rice, Tony Lake, and these guys. Domestic policy? David Cutler, Jason Grumet, and these guys. Of course, this is all a front for the rubes, deliberately designed to piss off guys like David Sirota and lull guys like David Broder into narcotic acquiescence. It's very, very clever.

But not quite clever enough. Despite a full quarter century of carefully hiding his radical views from the public while he ascended the political ladder, he screwed up. He palled around with Bill Ayers. He spent 20 years in an America-hating black nationalist church. He supported an Islamofascist opposition leader in Kenya. He approved grants to a guy who promoted Maoism in American schools.

Those seem like odd mistakes for a savvy guy like Obama to make if he was otherwise so good at hiding his inner radicalism, don't they? And yet, a lot of conservatives really seem to believe this stuff. Obama is a crypto-Marxist. A crypto-black nationalist. A crypto-appeaser. Everything you think you know about him is just a mask, the public side of a very careful, very deliberate, 25-year act. And nobody gets it except for us. Isn't that always the way?

Next stop: Arkham Asylum. Or, more likely, membership in the same loony bin groups that thought Bill Clinton was dealing blow out of Mena when he was governor of Arkansas. I wonder which crazy billionaire is going to bankroll the Obama Chronicles when January 20th rolls around?

mojo-photo-axlroseold.jpgWas that convincing? Because it was a lie. Sure, there have already been enough leaks of this to flood a low-lying country, so this whole "official release" thing is a bit anticlimactic, but yes, the new G N' R song, the title track from the album Chinese Democracy, will be delivered to radio tomorrow. It's also been posted on the band's Imeem page, which means I can do this:

mojo-photo-gnrchinesecover.jpgThe album's wicker basket-y cover art is already getting mocked, although so far you can only see it in thumbnail form at Best Buy's web site. The retailer will, by the way, be the exclusive provider of the physical CD (and, it seems, vinyl) to potential buyers, whoever they may be.

Another College Campus Shooting

Sadly, this time in Kentucky.

Priceless

PRICELESS....Email from a friend at 12:14 pm:

Prediction: By the end of the week, someone will make a Sarah Palin spot that is a takeoff on the Mastercard "Priceless" ads.

End of the week? Here's former McCain advisor Mike Murphy blogging at Swampland at 1:00 pm:

New ad slogan: "Clothes for Gov. Palin? $150,000. Time machine to go back two months to late August and ask what the Hell were Schmidt and Davis thinking when they cooked up this idea and sold it to McCain? Priceless."

I think my friend is still working on old-fashioned MSM time. We'll probably have three or four versions of that ad up on YouTube by tomorrow morning at the latest. Sometime tonight is probably a better guess.

Study: Nature Walks Help ADHD

In the past few years, doctors have reported kids with ADHD being overmedicated. So I thought it was interesting that a recent study by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found that taking a 20-minute walk in a natural setting worked better than medicine in helping ADHD kids focus.

In the study, researchers took ADHD-diagnosed children on 20-minute walks in urban and natural settings. They found that those who took the natural-themed walks showed increased concentration. The concentration was as good as, or higher than, levels seen in the children when on medication for ADHD. While many studies have linked time in the outdoors with increased well-being, this is one of the first studies to link natural settings to better concentration. It also showed that time outside could help reduce all ADHD symptoms, not just concentration. "Children who have regular exposure to green spaces have milder symptoms overall," said Fraces Kuo, who co-authored the study. "So that's hinting that there may be a persistent effect." Translation: take your overactive kids outside. It's good for them.

Chart of the Day - 10.22.2008

CHART OF THE DAY....Via Alex Tabarrok, a trio of boffins at the Minneapolis Fed argue that the credit crisis is a myth. Using Fed data they demonstrate that bank credit is up, loans and leases are up, commercial loans are up, consumer loans are up, and interbank loans are up. This is all potentially interesting, but unfortunately they then proceed to ruin their credibility by saying blandly that "while commercial paper issued by financial institutions has declined, commercial paper issued by nonfinancial institutions is essentially unchanged during the financial crisis." Technically that's true, but commercial paper from financial institutions makes up 80% of the entire market, and Figure 6A shows it plunging over the past month like a barrel jumper at Niagara Falls. You'd think that might have been worth a more vigorous mention.

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that using aggregate data like this somehow misses the story. It also probably doesn't take into account all the term facilities and loan guarantees that the Fed has put in place over the past year. Still, seeing some data that challenges the conventional wisdom is always worthwhile. Even if it turns out to be wrong, reading the explanation of why it's wrong should be instructive. Perhaps some enterprising econblogger will provide us with just that.

McCain's Focus on Pennsylvania Explained

The McCain campaign is pulling back in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Colorado, Maine and Minnesota. The place where it appears to be rededicating itself? Pennsylvania. Pats, Packers, Broncos, and Vikings fans, you can now enjoy your Sunday football free of election advertising, which I'm sure you're thoroughly sick of by now. Steelers and Eagles fans, no such luck.

For a pretty solid explanation of the McCain campaign's move, which appears to fly in the face of recent PA polling, check out Open Left.

And for the record, John McCain isn't helping his own cause in PA. See this video, in which McCain attempts to respond to a claim by Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) that Western Pennsylvania is "racist".

Most Expensive Campaign Ever? Not Really

Is 2008 the most expensive election ever? Not if you use real dollars. Yes, Barack Obama is raising more raw money than any candidate ever. And yes, this is the first time an election has surpassed $1 billion. But in 1896, William McKinley spent an astonishing $3.35 million to ensure populist firebrand William Jennings Bryan got nowhere near the White House. As Paul Krugman notes, "As a percentage of gross domestic product, it was the equivalent of more than $3 billion today, five times what the Bush campaign spent in 2004." And Krugman is just highlighting one example; he isn't conducing a systematic study of all election spending adjusted for inflation.

This isn't to say the campaign finance system doesn't need to be reformed. It does. But let's keep context in mind when you hear shrill media claims that every election is the most expensive ever.

The Market

THE MARKET....Stocks are down today:

Worries about the corporate sector sent stocks on Wall Street lower again on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones industrials dropping more than 400 points before recovering slightly.

....The problems have appeared in a range of industries. The aviation giant Boeing saw profits fall 38 percent last quarter. Merck, the pharmaceutical company, posted a 28 percent drop in net income and will cut jobs. The North Carolina-based bank Wachovia, which was recently acquired by Wells Fargo, suffered a $23.7 billion net loss.

Stocks have been swinging around pretty wildly over the past few weeks as investors have responded to the drama of the credit crisis, but it's worth keeping in mind that over the long term this is what really matters. If earnings reports stayed strong regardless of credit market problems, then the market would do fine. But that's extremely unlikely to be the case. We've got at least a year of weak corporate earnings ahead of us, and that almost certainly means we've also got at least a year of declining stock prices ahead of us too. Main Street's suffering is just starting.

ZZZZZZ

ZZZZZZ....An apparently well known jihadist has posted a message suggesting that al-Qaeda should mount an attack on the U.S. in order to help the election chances of John McCain:

The message, posted Monday on the password-protected al-Hesbah Web site, said if al-Qaida wants to exhaust the United States militarily and economically, "impetuous" Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain is the better choice because he is more likely to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

...."If al-Qaida carries out a big operation against American interests," the message said, "this act will be support of McCain because it will push the Americans deliberately to vote for McCain so that he takes revenge for them against al-Qaida. Al-Qaida then will succeed in exhausting America till its last year in it."

Yawn. I imagine that al-Qaeda will continue mounting attacks on the United States whenever it's actually capable of doing so and regardless of who's president. Screw 'em.