Sunday, October 19, 2008


My main site,, is now working again, so I will not be updating this one any more. I hope to transfer these posts (well, not this one) over there, but that may take a few days. Thanks for visiting here, but please go there until further notice.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Attack of the Zombie Bank

If Washington Mutual Bank ('WaMu') went belly up a week or two ago, why did I just get an offer in the mail for a WaMu Platinum MasterCard with 0% fixed APR until January 1, 2010, no annual fee, a credit line of "up to" $7,500, and a choice of 5 card colors? Is WaMu "dead, but too dumb to lie down", as the old saying goes? Or is this some living bank with a similar name and too little sense to change it? I'm certainly not dumb enough to fill in this particular application, even if I needed such a card, which I don't.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Seen Today . . .

. . . a middle-schooler -- not one of my students -- who was amused and even a bit pleased that the first three grades on his report card were A, D, and D.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Something Missing?

The Anchoress quotes her reader Gary S., who has come up with a plausible path to victory for McCain: "Promise the American people that if he is elected, he will appoint Rudy Giuliani as Attorney General and his first order of business will be to investigate, indict and prosecute all those involved in any wrong doing in the sub-prime mortgage debacle, from Wall Street, to K Street to Main Street." Surely there is one more street that ought to be on the list: North Capitol Street, where the U.S. Congress is located. I don't know whether Senators and Congressmen can be indicted for their actions in this mess, but they can surely be investigated, shamed, and encouraged to resign and go into another line of work (and I don't mean lobbying).

Which reminds me: William Ayers would be a lot more tolerable if he had become a stationery salesman, like Alger Hiss, instead of a professor.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Little Closer . . . A Little Closer . . .

Bloggers worried that McCain hasn't savaged Obama sufficiently for his various failings might want to think about tactics. The very best time to cut loose is during the debate tonight. It's important not to give Obama an excuse to cancel or postpone it. Let him think it's going to be an easy victory. Once they're both on stage with nowhere to hide, McCain can work on goading Obama into revealing himself as a stuttering weasel, haughty porcupine, deer in the headlights, or all three. The big prize: inciting him to stalk off-stage and refuse to continue. A 'No Mas' ending would not be entirely out of character for a man like Obama. He walked away after only eight questions at a press conference a few months ago, and it's conceivable that he would do the same with much higher stakes. We shall see.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Law of Unintended Consequences: Blame D.C.

I thought I'd posted on this before, but can't find any record of such a post on my once and (I hope) future blog. It seems important.

VodkaPundit and others have mentioned the real and terrifying possibility of a 269-269 Electoral College tie, which would throw the election into the House of Representatives. It is worth noting that such a tie is only possible because the 23rd Amendment granted federal voting rights to the District of Columbia. The number of electoral votes had been odd since 1903 and for much of the time before then, since the total number of Senators (necessarily even) plus the total number of members of the House (traditionally odd) generally added up to an odd number. With 3 electoral votes added for D.C., the Electoral College now has an even number, and is therefore vulnerable to tie votes. It will remain so until D.C. gains enough population to earn another pseudo-Congressman or Congress adjusts the number of actual voting Congressmen to make it even instead of odd, which would make the number of electoral votes odd instead of even. Either of these events is highly unlikely, and the latter would theoretically increase the number of tie votes in Congress, though anything like perfect attendance in a body of 435 must be quite rare.

I wonder if anyone noticed this possibility when the 23rd Amendment was up for ratification.

Footnote: The fact that Nebraska and Maine may split their electoral votes increases the number of ways in which a tie could happen, but it is the even number of electors that makes it possible in the first place. (Or at least, makes the possibility more than minuscule: even with an odd-numbered Electoral College, it could happen that one elector would drop dead or be run over by a bus on the way to the vote and the rest could then split evenly.)

Danger Signs for Obama?

On my way to work, I drive twelve miles along country roads in the southern Shenandoah Valley. Many of the farms have political signs up. Besides McCain-Palin vs Obama-Biden, we are also deciding which former governor, Mark Warner (D) or Jim Gilmore (R), should replace retiring Senator John Warner (R), and whether to reelect 8-term Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R) or replace him with 27-year-old newcomer Sam Rasoul (D). Warner and especially Goodlatte are apparently heavy favorites: it's been eight years since the Democrats nominated someone to oppose Goodlatte.

Today I counted the signs on the way to work. What's interesting is not so much the number for each party as their distribution.

For the Republicans, I counted eight McCain-Palin signs, three McCain signs, one of which was huge, along with one for Gilmore and three for Goodlatte. Republicans -- or at least the farmers among them -- seem to be much more enthusiastic about the presidential race, though that may be partly because Gilmore has very little chance of winning, and Goodlatte very little chance of losing. (At least so I'm told: I've only lived here two months.)

For the Democrats, I counted three straight-ticket Obama-Warner-Rasoul signs with checkmarks by each name, two huge and brightly-colored Warner-Rasoul signs, one fair-sized Warner sign, and only one small Obama-Biden sign looking quite forlorn -- it was in an empty field while most of the rest were in front yards. In short, there seems to be a lot more enthusiasm for the congressional candidates than for Obama. It's hard to attribute that to racism or hostility to supposed Muslims, since there's quite a bit of rural support for Sam Rasoul, an actual Muslim and "the son of immigrants . . . from the Palestinian territories". I suspect that the difference is that his red-white-and-blue-themed website also mentions his "commitment to the American Dream", that he is a small business owner, a "fiscal conservative", and so on, and that he plans to take the oath of office on neither a Bible nor a Qu'ran, but the U.S. Constitution.

Should Obama be a bit more worried about Virginia? I suppose that depends on how representative the Shenandoah Valley farmer vote is. I see plenty of Obama signs in town, though even there the ratio of Warner-Rasoul signs to Obama signs (Biden is nearly invisible) seems much higher than the ratio of Gilmore and Goodlatte signs to McCain-Palin signs. I suspect that there will be quite a bit of ticket-splitting in the area.

Update (10/6, 10:55am):
If anyone is wondering, here is what the farms in the area I checked are growing or breeding: 1. cows, 2. hay, 3. horses, 4. corn, 5. goats, 6. sheep.

Keating 5 or Keating 3?

Since John McCain and John Glenn were exonerated in the 'Keating 5' investigation, wouldn't it be more honest to call it the Keating 3 scandal?


I have been unable to edit my original blog,, for over a month. I hope this will be only a temporary substitute, but that remains to be seen. After getting a few political posts off my chest, I will consult my readers (if any remain) for advice on regaining control of the old blog.

At the moment, comments are open, but moderated. I will be ruthlessly deleting or maliciously editing any that fail to meet my arbitrary and unpublished standards. Even those that pass muster may take some time to appear, since I cannot moderate them at work or in my sleep.