Bark for Barack!

Spotted in Albany, California:

Also spotted in Albany — which seems to be home base for “Bark for Barack!” signs, which I’ve never seen anywhere else:

Luckily, dogs can’t vote — can they?


Turns out even this innocuous bit of silliness has a communist connection. The “Bark for Barack” poster is based on this famous graphic design by Soviet artist Alexander Rodchenko, who “used photo montage to enhance his images to create more powerful images that would be used for propaganda for the USSR.”

Sarah Palin lookalikes in San Francisco

A trio of Sarah Palin lookalikes, along with a Bristol Palin lookalike, posed at the corner of Castro and Market in San Francisco yesterday.

The younger of the two female Palins seen here had issued a public call for a mass gathering of Palin lookalikes for Halloween — but only two other Palins showed up (along with 25 disappointed media members). A complete washout!

Even so, I predict that “Sarah Palin” will be the popular costume for this year’s Halloween.

Politically speaking, whatever the outcome of the election, I think the Democrats’ biggest mistake this campaign was to keep Palin in the headlines for the last two months. She now is easily the most famous woman in America. And name recognition leads to popularity, which leads to votes — no matter what the reason for your fame. If they had simply ignored her, the McCain ticket would have faded into obscurity. As they say: All publicity is good publicity!

There was actually one other participant: A guy dressed as a moose showed up, so the Palins could hunt him. But he was too emabarrassed to stand with the lookalikes, so instead he hovered at the back of the crowd.

New at zombietime:

Barack Obama’s Close Encounter with the Weather Underground

If you wish to comment on this article, you can do so here.

Graffiti in Dwinelle Hall at U.C. Berkeley

Zombietime reader “Chicken Kiev” submits these photos of graffiti in restrooms in Dwinelle Hall on the U.C. Berkeley campus:

For those not familiar with Dwinelle Hall, it is a large, sprawling building that houses many of the liberal arts and language departments at Cal.

A different restroom sported this sticker.

I’ve just posted a new essay at zombietime:

William Ayers’ forgotten communist manifesto: Prairie Fire

If you’d like to comment on it, you can do so here.

Volunteering at an Obama Phone Bank

On Sunday afternoon, October 19, I spent a few hours volunteering at a “phone bank” for the Obama campaign. Not because I support Obama, mind you, but simply to get an idea of what goes on at these events and to see first-hand how the process works.

“Phone bank” is a term referring to any large group of campaign volunteers who cold-call potential voters in an attempt to ensure that they will vote for a particular candidate. Traditionally, such “get out the vote” drives are held inside campaign offices, using rows of phones provided by the campaign itself. But this phone-banking event was very modernistic: It was held in a public park, and volunteers were asked to use their own cell phones to make the calls — an additional benefit to the campaign, since the volunteers thereby absorbed the long-distance phone charges.

This phone bank was open to all comers, advertised as a public event, so I showed up, cell phone in hand, to see what I could see.

At the main campaign table in the park, one of the organizers signed me up and explained the system: he handed me a couple sheets containing a list of registered voters, their phone numbers, and various codes by which to identify them. As explained below in more detail, next to each name was a series of check-boxes which I was to fill out, indicating how the call went. [I blurred out all last names and phone numbers in the photo, to protect people's privacy.]

Next the organizer handed me a “Phonebank script” which he explained I could refer to during the call. He assured me that I didn’t need to refer to the script — it was only there as a handy reminder of what should be said, and as a cue-card in case I got stage fright and froze up during the conversation.

Interestingly, the script only had instructions for what to do if the person on the line was either an Obama supporter or was undecided. I asked what we were supposed to do if the person was a McCain supporter, and he told me: If that happens, just end the call as quickly as possible and move on to the next one.

Before I actually started calling, I asked one of the many assistants who were circulating through the park a few questions about the list I had been handed, and how I was supposed to fill out the check-boxes. She explained: The first column is for those calls in which you don’t reach anyone — fill in the appropriate box indicating what happened, i.e. No answer/message machine; refused to speak to me or slammed down the phone; respondent only spoke Spanish (I was calling New Mexico, since it was a “swing state”); or the number had been disconnected. But if they answered and were willing to talk, I moved to the next column: First I should ask who they’re voting for, and check the appropriate box on the form. If they’re voting for McCain or Nader, check the box but then end the call immediately and move on to the next call. If they are Obama voters, ask them if they’ve voted early; if they haven’t, encourage them to do so; and ask if they want to become volunteers. Then go on and ask about their preference in the New Mexico senate race.

I asked what the last column meant; she told me that “EV Location” was the nearest “early voting location” where the respondent could vote before election day. I asked how we knew what the nearest location was, since we didn’t have their addresses; she said that the address of each voter was in the database, it just wasn’t printed on the handout.

She also said that I shouldn’t expect to have too many actual conversations, because most of the time I’ll only be filling out column 1: Not Home/Refused/Spanish/Wrong #. She added, “Sometimes, you’ll call all nine numbers on a sheet and not get a single answer.”

So I got to work and started making some calls on my cell phone. Turns out the volunteer was right: Almost none of the calls were successful. I had been given two sheets, each listing nine voters, and out of the 18 calls I made:

3 had no answer
4 were message machines
7 answered but didn’t want to talk or immediately hung up
2 were disconnected numbers
1 was an Obama voter (who would vote on election day but who didn’t want to volunteer)
1 was a McCain voter

Which really got me to thinking, especially in relation to various arguments I made in my recent essay The Left’s Big Blunder. It was obvious to me that the Obama campaign was using these phone banks to generate statistics for voter preferences: they compile the answers that we phone-bankers record all over the country, and come up with percentages for their “internal polls” about how many people are planning to vote for Obama, McCain, etc. In my micro-sample, it was a 50-50 split. But what concerns me are those 14 people (out of 16 calls, excluding the wrong numbers) who either didn’t answer, or who hung up after answering. Why did those seven people hang up on me? Why did they not want to be polled? I’m sure the answers are varied and unique to each person, but could it be that one or two or more of them didn’t want to have a political discussion with an Obama campaign volunteer? And the four other people who let the answering machine get the call and three who didn’t answer at all — did any of them have caller ID and not answer because a stranger was calling? Why?

I feel, as I surmised in my essay, that any polling samples generated this way are potentially way off, and exclude most voters who simply refuse to be polled. The real question is: How do those people intend to vote? Because the “unpollable registered voters” demographic is likely to be the largest demographic of all. And we have no idea how they intend to vote, nor why they refuse to be polled, and if there is some correlation between refusing to talk to an Obama campaign volunteer and refusing to vote for Obama. Could the same principle hold true for calls made by professional polling organizations?

But most disturbingly of all: The Obama campaign knows the name, phone number and address (as the assistant told me) of each person called; and we volunteers do in fact mark down the voting preferences of each individual. So, through phone banks like these, should Obama in fact become president (and even if he doesn’t), he and his team will have a pretty extensive list of everyone who voted against him.


Food for thought.

A vendor was selling these shirts at the event; I really wanted to get a clear photo of one, but instead all I got was this blurry image. Oh well! But it confirms the thesis in my earlier essay (linked above) that Obama’s supporters are doing everything they can to declare his victory a foregone conclusion.

I decided that calling two pages’ worth was enough for the day. I turned in my sheets, picked up an Obama button, exchanged pleasantries with the organizers, and went on my way.

Live Like Pigs, Die Like Pigs

On February 29 of this year, a small protest in front of Berkeley’s Marine Corps Officer Recruiting Office produced some of the most egregious signs I’ve ever seen at a political event. One of my pictures from that day was was posted at Little Green Footballs, but I never put that one (or any others from the protest) on zombietime. Until now.

I don’t even remember what the supposed reason was for the protest on that particular day. Not that it matters. There’s always a reason to protest again America, isn’t there? (BTW, both of these signs refer approvingly to the 1983 Beirut barracks bombing in which 241 Americans and 58 Frenchmen were killed by a group calling itself “Islamic Jihad.”)

On the sidewalk, someone had inscribed a list of every single real or imagined American foreign policy misdeed since WWII.

The list went on and on…and on and on. They were still adding to it as I left.

Barack Obama’s review of William Ayers' book

On December 21, 1997, Barack Obama wrote a short review of William Ayers’ book A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court, which had recently been published by Beacon Press. Here’s a photo of how the review appeared in the Chicago Tribune:

(Bloggers, journalists and media members are all free to re-post this image with no restrictions. If you would like a hi-resolution version, right-click or control-click here.)

Obama’s review of Ayers’ book says, “A searing and timely account of the juvenile court system, and the courageous individuals who rescue hope from despair.”

I had seen mentions of the existence of this review in a very few media outlets, including CNN, National Review, American Spectator, and a handful of others. But because the review was published before the Chicago Tribune began digitizing and archiving its articles online, there was no direct Web link to the review itself — only citations of it. So, out of curiosity, I took it upon myself to visit a library in San Francisco, and using the library’s Lexis-Nexis access and its archive of microfilm versions of major newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune, I finally tracked down a copy of the actual review itself.

Turns out the review was very short — what I had thought (from reading the citations in the online articles) were just short quotes from it was in fact the entirety of the review. But it was accompanied by a photo of Obama, standing by his statement. The review was part of a column called “Mark My Word,” in which Chicago notables praise their favorite current books.

Just a few weeks before this review was published in the Chicago Tribune, Obama and Ayers appeared together on a panel about juvenile justice organized by Michelle Obama on November 20, 1997:

Children who kill are called “super predators,” “people with no conscience,” “feral pre-social beings” — and “adults.”

William Ayers, author of A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court (Beacon Press, 1997), says “We should call a child a child. A 13-year-old who picks up a gun isn’t suddenly an adult. We have to ask other questions: How did he get the gun? Where did it come from?”

Ayers, who spent a year observing the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago, is one of four panelists who will speak on juvenile justice at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 20, in the C-Shop. The panel, which marks the 100th anniversary of the juvenile justice system in the United States, is part of the Community Service Center’s monthly discussion series on issues affecting the city of Chicago. The event is free and open to the public.

Ayers will be joined by Sen. Barack Obama, Senior Lecturer in the Law School, who is working to combat legislation that would put more juvenile offenders into the adult system; Randolph Stone, Director of the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic; Alex Correa, a reformed juvenile offender who spent seven years in Cook County Temporary Detention Center; Frank Tobin, a former priest and teacher at the Detention Center who helped Correa; and Willy Baldwin, who grew up in public housing and is currently a teacher at the Detention Center.

I find it very hard — no, make that impossible — to believe that Barack Obama had “no idea” who William Ayers really was, or that he had a past as a notorious domestic terrorist (as Obama’s campaign has claimed) while serving on panels with Ayers and simultaneously praising Ayers’ book in a major newspaper.

This story is likely to continue growing, and I thought that the image above would provide a good “visual” for the Obama-Ayers connection.

[UPDATE: On page 82 of the book itself, Ayers mentions Obama. So there's no question they knew each other.]

The following images are pretty much unnecessary; yet because of the intense nature of this campaign, and because every single tidbit of news is dissected, analyzed, doubted and challenged, I am posting these pictures to prove beyond any doubt that the photo of the Obama-Ayers review shown above is authentic, and not some Photoshop hoax, as I’m quite sure Obama’s defenders would claim if I didn’t pre-emptively debunk their accusations.

Feel free to ignore this section unless you’re interested in seeing “proof” that the review is real.

This shows the entirety of page 5 of the Chicago Review book section on December 21, 1997. Obama’s review is visible at the lower left. (Hi-res version of this photo here.)

This shows the date and page number at the top of the page, confirming it really is from the Chicago Tribune on December 21, 1997. (Hi-res version of this photo here.)

This picture shows the microfilm image in situ on the microfilm machine itself, proving it’s a physical artifact, not a digital Photoshop creation. (Hi-res version of this photo here.) Note also that the review directly above Obama’s review is of a book about domestic terrorists and bombers. Oh, the irony!

And this is a screenshot of the Lexis-Nexis listing on the library’s computer, proving that the review is part of the official digital archives. (Hi-res version of this photo here.)

The Left's Big Blunder

New at zombietime, an analysis of the presidential campaign you’ll read nowhere else:

The Left’s Big Blunder: The disastrously counter-productive strategy of Obama’s supporters

If you read only one essay this election season, let this be the one!

Comments welcome.

Yesterday I followed a link to a new article by Matthew Vadum which named The Greenlining Institute (among similar nonprofits) as the actual cause of the current financial crisis threatening the US economy. I did a double-take: The Greenlining Institute? You mean the one in Berkeley? Answer: Yes. The very same.

I (and countless other people) often zip past the nondescript office on Berkeley’s University Avenue containing the Greenlining Institute — one passes it on the way in and out of the city, as University leads from the freeway to downtown and the U.C. campus.

Unlike most people, though, several months ago I took note of the office as I passed it one day, and asked myself, “The Greenlining Institute” — what the hell is that? When I got home, out of curiosity I googled it and spent a couple minutes trying to decipher their Web site, to little avail. A very few other scattered articles seemed to indicate that the Greenlining Institute existed solely to bully banks and financial institutions into giving loans to otherwise unqualified minority borrowers.

The Greenlining Institute’s own mission statement says,

The Greenlining Institute’s mission is to empower communities of color and other disadvantaged groups through multi-ethnic economic and leadership development, civil rights and anti-redlining activities.

…but Matthew Vadum puts it much more bluntly:

Financial Affirmative Action

When the history of the Great Economic Meltdown of 2008 is written, in-your-face shakedown groups like the Greenlining Institute will be held to account.

Greenlining, headquartered in Berkeley, California (where else?), is a left-wing pressure group that threatens nasty public relations campaigns against lenders that refuse to kneel before its radical economic agenda. Its principal goal is to push politicians and the business community to facilitate “community reinvestment” in low-income and minority neighborhoods.

The Greenlining name is a play on the unlawful practice of “redlining.” That’s when financial institutions designate areas, typically those with a high concentration of racial minorities, as bad risks for home and commercial loans. The Institute wants banks to give a green light to loans in these areas instead.

Recently profiled by John Gizzi, Greenlining uses carrot-and-stick tactics to blackmail public agencies, banks, and philanthropists to achieve its objectives. The Institute brags it has threatened banks into making more than $2.4 trillion in loans in low-income communities.

On a trip through Berkeley today I once again noticed the office, and this time stopped to take these pictures. But there was no news to be found there: just a building, with no one around. And I’m not the kind of person to just walk right in and ask to interview someone. Not that it would have done me much good: undoubtedly I would have been given the usual rigamarole about unfair housing and the need to redistribute wealth to help minorities.

There’s been a lot of finger-pointing on all sides about this financial crisis, but much of it misses the point. The off-topic details about CEO salaries and bond markets and mergers and bailouts and who voted for what all chase the horse after it’s already left the barn. The key question is this:

Once upon a time, banks only loaned money to individuals who could qualify for a home mortgage; and then sometime recently, they changed their practices and started loaning money to a lot of people who didn’t qualify and could not afford to pay back the loans. And when they started defaulting, and when real estate values starting dropping, the entire industry collapsed, because there was no equity to pay back the loans. The banks lost money, the customers lost money, and it all went down the toilet. Which, of course, many people had predicted. So the question is: Why? Why did banks start making countless risky untenable loans to unqualified customers?

And the answer is: Because they were afraid of being called racists by the legal bullies at the Greenlining Institute and other similar “community organizers.”

It all started with The Community Reinvestment Act, a federal law originally passed during the Carter administration and then ramped up during the Clinton years, that was originally designed to prevent racist lending practices by banks who wouldn’t loan money to minorities, even if they were qualified. Which was a fine idea. But over time the law was twisted to force banks to make loans to minorities even if they weren’t qualified — which all may sound very peachy keen in Fantasy Utopia Land but which inevitably spells long-term financial suicide for a bank.

The Greenlining Institute’s self-appointed role is to identify those banks which by Greenlining’s reckoning haven’t doled out enough money to underqualified minority borrowers, and then threaten them with lawsuits, protests, and accusations of institutional racism if the banks don’t start opening their wallets ASAP. And the banks caved. Greenlining brags that they have unparalleled access to banking boardrooms, and they successfully squeezed $2.4 trillion (yes, trillion) in “CRA commitments” (i.e. loans to unqualified borrowers) out of terrified banks. Nearly every bank and financial institution you’ve ever heard of seems to kowtow to Greenlining.

According to this 2005 article in The Berkeley Daily Planet:

With a $4 million annual endowment, Greenlining’s interests are larger than Berkeley, stretching from Sacramento to Washington, DC. Started in 1994 by John Gamboa, a co-founder of the consumer interest law firm Public Advocates, and backed by minority business associations, the institute has fought to extend the benefits of capitalism to inner-city neighborhoods that had been traditionally cut off from access to business and home loans.

“Making the unbanked bankable has always been a top objective,” Turner said.

To persuade banks to serve inner-city clients, the institute has opposed high-profile bank mergers, threatening to demand hearings before the Federal Reserve Board if the bank didn’t agree to invest more in inner cities.

Under pressure from Greenlining, Wells Fargo committed $45 billion to community lending and $300 million to philanthropic causes as part of its 1996 acquisition of Los Angeles-based First Interstate Bank. Washington Mutual, also hounded by Greenlining, agreed to provide $120 million in community lending as part of its 2001 merger with Bank United. Similar concessions have been squeezed out of insurance and utility companies. Greenlining issues annual report cards tracking the institutions’ progress in hiring minorities and serving minority communities.

The organization also retains two attorneys to initiate public interest lawsuits against organizations they feel discriminate against minorities.

Although it fights in the name of the poor and disenfranchised, Greenlining’s close relations with corporate donors and its commitment to economic expansion have also drawn enemies on the left.

Our experience with Greenlining is that they often don’t tell the truth and they’re quick to hurl allegations rather than dealing with the facts,” said Bill Magavern, legislative analyst for the Sierra Club. …
Magavern thinks Greenlining’s environmental policies are rooted in the interests of key donors. “Look at who they take money from,” he said. “Part of their modus operandi is to threaten people until they get paid. We’ve never given them money so that is one of the problems they have with us.”

Tracking down Greenlining’s major contributors isn’t simple. The names of major donors are whited-out on the organization’s federal tax forms. The omission was news to Turner, he said.

He said that corporations accounted for about one-third of the institute’s revenues. The rest, he said, comes from foundation grants and fees from intervening on behalf of the public before the state Public Utilities Commission.

Greenlining faxed the Daily Planet its 2002 tax returns, which listed four contributions, including $250,000 from Washington Mutual, $300,000 from Wells Fargo…[etc.]

Who are these people? And how did they gain so much power, while flying so far under the radar? Their latest push is to force the banks to convert the adjustable rate mortgage loans given to dodgy borrowers into fixed-rate loans, which would further punish the banks financially.

The American Anachronism blog lists some of the other pressure groups who bully banks — including the now notorious ACORN.

How does this connect to the presidential election? According to this 2007 article in the Chicago Sun-Times, Barack Obama’s mysterious years as a “community organizer” were spent doing this exact thing: Accusing banks of racism for not giving loans to underqualified minority borrowers:

Obama represented Calvin Roberson in a 1994 lawsuit against Citibank, charging the bank systematically denied mortgages to African-American applicants and others from minority neighborhoods.

(A case which, by the way, Obama won. Add another risky loan to the pile.)

I don’t have any answers. Just a lot of questions. And a queasy feeling that there may be a lot more to the financial crisis than we’ve been told.

Further reading:
The Greenlining Institute: Shakedown Artists, also by Matthew Vadum

(Thanks to “Honorary Yooper” for the Berkeley Daily Planet link.)