Friday, March 07, 2008

Here comes the story of the Hurricane,
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin' that he never done.
Put in a prison cell, but one time he could-a been
The champion of the world.

Is it possible that one of my favourite 1970's Bob Dylan songs could be so wrong in the events it presumes to portray??? I saw an article in The Seattle Times earlier this week about someone who was in the situation of being condemned for a crime he did not commit and the paper noted that he had Ruben "Hurricane" Carter in his corner for the fight. In doing a google search to find the article to post to this blog, I ran across a site that takes issue with the commonly-presented hypothesis that Carter was in any sense of the term innocent. That site can be reviewed here for those who are interested.

I was admittedly agnostic on this matter and had no reason to presume the "conventional wisdom" if you will of what is often portrayed in the case of "the Hurricane" was false. (My general disdain for msm "conventional wisdom" notwithstanding.) Nor do I have the time or desire to look into this matter myself. However, at the very least Cal Deal's site in doing a casual review of the contents looks to be as thorough in documenting sources as is my wont when writing on subjects so that fact alone inclines me towards giving what he has to say a fair hearing pending contrary evidences of similar weight to the contrary being presented of course.

Now to some extent this is an old story perhaps but at the time the movie based on Ruban "Hurricane" Carter's autobiography (and starring Denzil Washington) came out, I had a lot of things in my life of far greater importance than considering this issue if I had even known of it which for a variety of reasons{1} I did not. But as Ruban "Hurricane" Carter was in the news again and as I have been made aware of the information on Cal Deal's site, it seems appropriate to note it briefly as well as sketch out my reason for referring to it now.

My interest in these matters is simple really: I value the fundamental rights of man including life, faculties, and production. And in at least two of the three areas, there would be a violation if an innocent man was wrongly convicted.{2} Justice in some sense was not served here basically: either the guilty was set free or the innocent was convicted. And considering that "Hurricane" has been treated in the recent article noted above as defacto and unquestionably innocent with no mention made of the controversy of his case, a bit of remedying the situation to the extent that I can here (to provide both sides of the story) is something that I feel impelled to do.

As far as the song itself goes, I am never one to deny artistic license to any songwriter or artist but presumably the writer or artist worthy of their craft -and Bob Dylan certainly is one of the great songwriters- has a responsibility towards being as accurate as they can when presuming to portray an actual event in song. It would appear from what Cal Deal outlines that the song not only is inaccurate in its portrayal but criminally so.

And while I am not about to avoid watching movies or listening to the music of those whose views differ from mine{3}; nonetheless, I will always suspect with Dylan from here on out that on lyrical matters of a factual or historical basis that he cannot be trusted. But enough on this for now.


{1} Too much to go into here even if I was inclined to (which I am not).

{2} Of life because it implies freedom within reason to life without being unduly constrained by society, of production because a man's right to provide for himself and his family would be impaired by his imprisonment.

{3} If I took that approach, it would make for a lot less interesting life that is for sure.

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"Everything And the Kitchen Sink" Dept.
(On Senator Hillary Clinton and Her Nomination Chances)

[Prefatory Note: This note was pretty much written on March 5th and did not account for the dropping out of Rep. Ron Paul from the Republican contest which happened subsequently. -ISM]

Two events happened yesterday recently of signal importance for this election cycle if you exclude Ron Paul increasing the number of delegates he had won by a factor of 30%.{1} They are of course (i) Senator John McCain solidifying the Republican nomination and (ii) Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton after a eleven primary/caucus post Super Tuesday losing streak to Senator Barack Hussein Obama bouncing back and winning three of the four primaries yesterday including the important ones in Ohio and Texas. I will be posting some stuff soon on Senator McCain so the purpose of this posting is to outline the performance of Senator Clinton in the latest round of contests.

On the Obama/Clinton situation, I wrote on her situation last week when things were looking a lot grimmer with these words:

I will go out on a limb and say that the March 4th primaries in Ohio and Texas will prove to be either the turning point for Senator Clinton in the positive sense of putting her back into the race or in solidifying a near-insurmountable mountain for her to climb in order to win the nomination fairly. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa February 28, 2008)]

And while some try to paint her situation as still mathematically unviable, they are in our view betraying the fact that Senator Clinton with these wins is in it for the long haul. Furthermore, there is the wild card factor of the super delegates which is why we included the reference to winning the nomination "fairly" in our above comments.

If Senator Clinton were to have continued to lose and yet got the nomination by virtue of courting the Democratic "super delegates", that was what we had in mind when we mentioned her possibly not winning it "fairly." But if she continues to win in large states and makes a contest out of it, if she can persuade the so-called "super delegates" to leave Senator Obama and support her, that would be a situation where she indeed won it "fairly" as we see it. This is why those who make the statements about her chances being "mathematically slim" betray either their ignorance on these matters, their bias for Senator Obama, or both.

There is a serious problem with those who do not know how the election machinery functions who pontificate on these matters. We saw this idiocy back in 2000 when those sorts claimed that Senator Al Gore should have won over Governor George Bush by virtue of winning the popular vote when for 211 years this country has elected presidents with the electoral college. It was not by accident that the Founders seized upon that method of election which provided a check and balance on the voting process by the people. This is one of those mechanisms that separates the United States from being a pure democracy and places it properly speaking as a republican form of government. Or as I wrote on the subject in response to an email received about four years ago:

Indeed the best evidence of the fact that we are not a democracy is the manner whereby this country's government was set up. If we were a "democracy" than every position in government would be voted upon by the people. But we have judicial branches which are by appointment of the executive with the legislators acting in the capacity of advisers. We have posts in the president's administration all of which are by appointment. (Again, not very "democratic.") And of course the very election system that saved us from a Gore administration is another example of "non-democracy." For by your logic XXXX, Gore should have won by virtue of having more votes than Bush.[...] But Bush won because of the electoral college: an example of republican-style electing.

Now one could argue that this country is more a democracy now than it was at its founding. This would be true in that the Senator was initially an appointed position contrasted with the House positions which were elected by those in the populace with the right to vote. But the structure is still republican to the core: a nation ruled by law and not by mob rule as in a democracy. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa January 11, 2004)]

Similarly there is a mechanism in place by the individual parties which regulates these matters. The Republicans have a number of state primaries which are winner take all and some which apportion delegates based on placing. The Democrats by contrast have a closer proportion of delegates in all of their primaries with about 750 odd "super delegates." So all of this talk about Senator Clinton being "out of it" and "desperate" in this race is absurd: she can come close in the earned delegate category and if she persuades enough "super delegates" to support her, she wins the nomination fair and square.

So enough of this crap about "the voters" folks because primaries are not pure democracies nor should they be. And the reason they are not is similar to the reason we have an Electoral College system in this country for general elections and (God-willing) we always will. But that is all I plan to say on this for now except to exhort Senator Clinton to continue her fight. After all, if Obama cannot take a punch, he has no business being president of the United States and he is about to find out just how tenacious the Clintons can be when they are fighting for their election lives.


{1} No, I am not serious about this one.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

One of my favourite weblogs in years past (Southern Appeal) has made a return to publication so it seems appropriate to publicly welcome them back; ergo I have done so.


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

As this is a primary day, those who have tuned in expecting our usual unique perspective on these matters are in for a disappointment because frankly, I do not give a damn about any of it...not today folks.

For today is a commemorative day traditionally at this humble weblog: the sixty-seventh anniversary of the birth of my late father Richard Dunn McElhinney (March 4, 1941). As he has passed on from this mortal coil, prayers would be most appreciated. For those who do not believe in prayers for the departed, prayers for the surviving family members on this difficult of days would be most appreciated. For those who do believe in prayers for the dead, please pray
for the eternal repose of his soul.

Eternal rest grant unto his soul oh Lord and may thy perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace with all the souls of the faithfully departed. Amen.
May the Lord grant mercy to the family of Onesiphorus because he often gave me new heart and was not ashamed of my chains. But when he came to Rome, he promptly searched for me and found me. May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day. [2 Tim. i,16-18]

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Monday, March 03, 2008

On Presidential Front Runners and Election History -Plus Some Fresh Musings on Underdog Triumphs Historically:
(Musings of your humble servant at Rerum Novarum)

[The first part of this posting{1} was written in late 2005 and originally intended or a multipart thread dialogue which was eventually blogged in early 2006. When doing the final reviews of that material before it was blogged, it was decided to abridge the texts and removed this material to suit that purpose. While I do not want to link to that material now as it is pretty long and would distract from the subject at hand -the current circumstances (of a near-certain Republican nominee while Democratic senatorial favourite Senator Clinton and Senator Obama are locked in a slugout for the Democratic nomination) seem to warrant reviewing what I wrote then. After all, learning from history is of no small value when it comes to forecasting what the future may well bring.

The newer material is designated as such and was primarily composed on February 18, 2007 -though I did finish it up today for posting.-ISM]

I advise you to take Santayana's dictum to heart on these matters and learn from history. If we look at the past hundred years (a decent slice of the pie considering that America is only 230 years old next year), it is significant that the leading Republican candidate going into the primaries has won twenty-two out of twenty-five times. Furthermore, the leading Republican candidate won the presidency in that span 13 times. And of the ten times they did not, there are extenuating circumstances to explain some of them. For example:

--Taft had to deal with a [former President Theodore Roosevelt] third party challenge in 1912.

--Tom Dewey was too much of a gentleman to run a rough campaign against Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) in 1944 when FDR was vulnerable to such things (much as he was in 1940) because of concern for the country over his own ambitions.

--Tom Dewey would have won in 1948 if he had not slacked up in the final days (believing the election was "in the can").

--Richard Nixon won in 1960 but had the election stolen by the Kennedy political machine.

--Gerald Ford lost a close race as a result of (i) a vigorous primary challenge from Reagan which went all the way to the convention, (ii) performing poorly in the debates, and (iii) the cloud of Nixon's resignation which he was unable to completely avoid.

Really, the only ones the Republicans lost where there were not mitigating factors involved were these:

--Alf Landon in 1936 (he was going up against the institution that was FDR and did not have a prayer).

--Barry Goldwater who was a sacrificial lamb for conservatism in 1964.

--Bill Clinton in 1996.

Now it is true that Clinton had Perot again in 1996 but it is debatable if Perot actually hurt Dole or not. (Unlike in 1992 where he clearly hurt Bush Sr.) Compared to this, the Democrats of whom thirteen of twenty-five nominee favourites actually won their party's nomination. And of that thirteen, the only times their favourite candidate actually won were these:

--Wilson in 1916.

--FDR in 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944

--Truman in 1948

--Johnson in 1964

--Clinton in 1996

If you factor in what I noted previously, FDR could have been beaten in 1940 and 1944 if the Republicans back then had the same lack of scruples and failed to value their selfish interests over the common good as today's Democrat scumbags do. Furthermore, Truman would have lost in 1948 if Dewey had not slacked up as he did. So the only truly incontrovertible examples of Democratic favourite candidates triumphing number five (1916, 1932, 1936, 1964, 1996).

By contrast, the Republicans of their thirteen triumphs can point to 1904, 1908, 1924, 1928, 1952, 1956, 1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 2004. The only time they cannot claim a clear and uncontroversial triumph of the thirteen times they won was in 2000.

To break it down, the Democratic candidate who was favoured going into the primaries of a presidential election was successfully nominated thirteen times out of twenty-five for a percentage of just over 50%. Of those thirteen nominations, they are credited with winning the election eight times. That is a percentage of 32%.

If we further consider that of those eight elections, three were either stolen (as in 1960), due to the Republican candidate slacking off late (as in 1948) or under circumstances where the Republicans placed the concern of the nation over their political ambitions (as in 1944) then it changes the dynamic even further to their disadvantage. For factoring out those disputed elections for reasons noted, the Democrats can point to five elections where they triumphed unquestionably -a percentage of 20%.

By contrast, the Republicans successfully nominated the favoured candidate prior to the primaries twenty-two times for a percentage of 88%. Of those twenty-two nominations, thirteen of them went onto win the presidency for a percentage of 59%. Factoring out the 2000 election which was controversial, the Republicans can point to twelve elections where they triumphed unquestionably -a percentage of 45%.

Bear in mind, these are only elections where we are talking about the favoured candidate in a party from the very beginning winning the presidency and doing so incontrovertibly. The Republicans in the past hundred years have done so at a 45% rate, the Democrats at a 20% rate.

Furthermore, when you consider that all but the last two elections for president did not have the growing alternative media outside of talk radio on their side, it hopefully gives you reason for cautious optimism that Hillary will not be president in 2008. The odds against it are 80% if not more using history as our guide. And if we want history to repeat itself here (which in Hillary's case, we all do), then we need to take Santayana's dictum seriously.

Addendum Material -Written February 18, 2008:

In light of Senator McCain's virtually certain nomination, it seems appropriate to note the history of the parties of non favourites winning the nomination who then win the presidency. It does not happen often and with the 2008 election being the most wide open contest on both sides of the aisle since 1952, let us review the history of underdog nominees winning the presidency from both parties.

As the modern Democratic party did not really exist until 1824 and the candidacy of Andrew Jackson{2} and the Republican party as we know it now did not come into being until 1854, this means the elections since 1856 are the ones most applicable to the modern situation. When looking at it in this way, the following elections were won by candidates who were not party favourites -party affiliation will be noted after the names for differentiation purposes:

--William Henry Harrison of the Whig party (W) in 1840{3}

--James K. Polk of the Democratic party (D) in 1844{4}

--Zachery Taylor (W) in 1848{5}

--Franklin Pierce (D) in 1852{6}

--James Buchanan (D) in 1856{7}

--Abraham Lincoln of the Republican party (R) in 1860{8}

--Rutherford B. Hayes (R) in 1876{9}

--Warren G. Harding (R) in 1920{10}

--Bill Clinton (D) in 1992{11}

My point in noting these things is historically, no Democratic challenger who was not the favourite won the presidency since 1856 century except Bill Clinton and that was in a three way race. Similarly, no Republican who was not the favourite has won the presidency since 1876 except Warrem Harding in 1920. Another way of saying it is this: we have the possibility this year of two candidates for president from the major parties neither of whom was the favourite going in. Anyway, I am not sure how much that will help but it does point out why I was not as concerned with Senator Clinton as many were all along. However, I for reasons of my own{12} want her to buck the trend here and win big in the March 4th primaries so that is all I will say on the matter for now.


{1} This is one of the threads I referred to last month:

In perusing the drafts folder at this humble weblog in late 2007, I realized there are 505 unfinished drafts there with the oldest ones going back about three years. Now many of them are earlier versions of stuff which was eventually finished and blogged but some of them were pieces which were not blogged for a variety of reasons -either because they are not finished yet or once they were finished the circumstances which originated their composition were too particular and not combining of the same degree of general principles and specific applications that I like to utilize when blogging most of the time. [Excerpt from Rerum Novarum (circa January 24, 2008)]

The applicable part now being the relevance of the material being different now than prior to Super Tuesday making the posting now more relevant now than even when that posting was written.

{2} The Democratic party today likes to disingenuously claim that their party goes back to Thomas Jefferson but it actually came out of the 1824 election after the Federalist party (the party of George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and Gouvernour Morris) disintegrated after the 1800 election. By 1820, the Democratic-Republican party (called the "Republican party" in Jefferson's time) was the last of the original parties and in 1824, it fractured into two parts. One part consisted of former Federalists represented by John Adams' son John Quincy Adams who was Secretary of State under President Monroe (1817-1825) and another from then-Speaker of the House Henry Clay which coalesced into a group which called itself the National Republican party and later was called the Whig party. Another was General Andrew Jackson who called their followers the Democratic party and first ran a candidate using that title formally in 1828 when Andrew Jackson ran against the incumbent President John Quincy Adams and won in convincing fashion.

This is why I refer to the modern Democratic party starting in 1824 and not 1792. The Republican party grew out of the later disintegration of the Whig party forming in 1854 and fielding their first presidential candidate in 1856. (Finally winning with Abraham Lincoln as their second presidential candidate in the election of 1860.)

{3} Harrison was not the favourite amongst the Whig candidates in the 1840 election but he secured nomination on the fifth ballot (the favourite was Henry Clay who was House Speaker from 1811-1825, ran for president in the deadlocked 1824 election, and was unanimously nominated in 1832 by the Whigs who were routed in President Andrew Jackson's re-election to the presidency. With Jackson out in 1836 following the tradition of not running for third terms, Clay was the favourite amongst the Whigs but he lost at the convention to General William Henry Harrison on the fifth ballot. Harrison won the presidency in 1840 and died a month after inauguration from pneumonia.

{4} The favourite in the 1844 for the Democrats was Martin Van Buren but he lost the nomination to Polk who won the presidency over Henry Clay of the Whigs.

{5} Henry Clay was again the favourite in the 1848 race.

{6}The Democrats nominated a "dark horse" candidate, this time Franklin Pierce. [Wikipedia: Article on United States Presidential Election of 1852]

{7} The incumbent President, Franklin Pierce, was defeated in his effort to be renominated by the Democrats, who instead selected James Buchanan of Pennsylvania. [Wikipedia: Article on United States Presidential Election of 1856]

{8}The Republican National Convention met in mid-May, after the Democrats had been forced to adjourn their convention in Charleston. With the Democrats in disarray and with a sweep of the Northern states possible, the Republicans were confident going into their convention in Chicago. William H. Seward of New York was considered the front runner, followed by Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, Salmon P. Chase of Ohio, and Missouri's Edward Bates. [Wikipedia: Article on United States Presidential Election of 1860]

{9}When the 6th Republican National Convention assembled in Cincinnati on 14 June, 1876, it appeared that James G. Blaine of Maine would be the nominee. [Wikipedia: Article on United States Presidential Elections of 1876]

{10}Others placed in nomination included Senators Warren G. Harding of Ohio, Hiram Johnson of California, and Miles Poindexter of Washington, Governor Calvin Coolidge of Massachusetts, Herbert Hoover, and Columbia University President Nicholas Murray Butler. Senator Robert M. La Follette, Sr. of Wisconsin was not formally placed in nomination but received the votes of his state delegation, nonetheless. Harding was nominated for President on the tenth ballot, after shifts...

Harding's nomination, said to have been secured in negotiations among party bosses in a “smoke-filled room”, was engineered by Harry M. Daugherty, Harding's political manager who, upon Harding's election, became Attorney General. Prior to the convention, Daugherty was quoted as saying, “I don't expect Senator Harding to be nominated on the first, second, or third ballots, but I think we can afford to take chances that about eleven minutes after two, Friday morning of the convention, when fifteen or twenty weary men are sitting around a table, someone will say: ‘Who will we nominate?’ At that decisive time, the friends of Harding will suggest him and we can well afford to abide by the result.” [Wikipedia: Article on United States Presidential Election of 1920]

{11}Clinton, meanwhile, was still a relatively unknown national candidate before the primary season.[Wikipedia: Article on United States Presidential Election of 1992]

{12} And no, it is not because I have any intention of actually voting for her should she pull off the nomination.

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You’re St. Justin Martyr!

You have a positive and hopeful attitude toward the world. You think that nature, history, and even the pagan philosophers were often guided by God in preparation for the Advent of the Christ. You find “seeds of the Word” in unexpected places. You’re patient and willing to explain the faith to unbelievers.