Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Does Obama-Biden have an edge in the GOTV ground game?
I would like all of my friends who are Democrats to read this very optimistic assessment of the relative quality of the two parties' get-out-the-vote "ground games" by a staff writer for the reliably left-leaning The Atlantic. (Hat-tip Avik Roy at The Corner.)
Seriously, I'd especially like for all my Dem friends in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wisconsin, Nevada, Michigan, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, and Iowa to read this very optimistic assessment. Treat it as authoritative. Consider its devastating logic and credibility as you cope with the many demands on your time in the next couple of weeks. Any good progressive can and should rely on The Atlantic, so you can be absolutely certain that with or without your vote, Obama's got this in the bag. Oh, sure, you could schlep down to the polls and engage in a bit of symbolic ritual, but really, what's going to more directly affect your real-world quality of life and the lives of those you love — some symbolism, or a really good, long, guilt-free nap?
My main question after reading this is: If the Obama campaign is actually this smart and effective, why is unemployment still above 8% and the deficit above $16T?
Also, if the Romney campaign is as clueless as it appears to be from this article, how did he ever manage to pull off that Olympics thing or make all that money?
These questions ought not trouble my Democratic friends, though. Yes, those are the droids you were looking for.
Thursday, September 06, 2012
Slow Joe seems secure
My blogospheric friend Dafydd ab Hugh asked earlier this week if I would be just a little bit disappointed if U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did indeed turn up in Timor-Leste and Brunei today, as scheduled, instead of in Charlotte, NC, to replace Slow Joe Biden as President Obama's running mate for the 2012 presidential election. As I answered him then,
I will be relieved if my prediction is false, not disappointed. I want Obama to lose, and I think replacing Biden with Hillary could and would help him win.
I'd like to be able to say "I told you so" if Hillary shows up on stage in Charlotte on Thursday night, but not remotely enough to wish, even a little, for something that would improve Obama's reelection chances.
I will concede only that if Obama does win, I would very much prefer for Joe Biden no longer to be first in the line of presidential succession....
Multiple news organizations are reporting that the SecState is indeed on schedule, and the AP photo at right purports to show Mrs. Clinton as she "enjoys a cup of coffee as she tours the Timor Coffee Cooperative in Dili, East Timor, Sept. 6, 2012." That is indeed enough to overcome my residual conspiracy-theory paranoia. Short of the Air Force strapping Mrs. Clinton into an SR-71 Blackbird, I don't think she could be in Charlotte in time to accept the Dems' nomination. That doesn't, of course, rule out a last-minute switch to someone else as a Biden replacement, but anyone else would be harder for the Democratic voting public to embrace spontaneously.
There is still a very, very, very remote chance that Obama could replace Biden before election day, but they're very close to ballot-printing deadlines across the country. If he had wanted to pull off a surprise comparable to the bin Ladin raid, the convention would have been the time for Obama to do it. So I think Slow Joe can breathe easy.
And as I predicted to Dafydd, I am indeed relieved, and I am very happy to contemplate, with chortles and chuckles, the prospect of the current Vice President debating he whom I believe should be the next one, Paul Ryan, in due course. Obama keeping Biden guarantees the maximum contrast in competency, and that Romney will get the most possible benefit from his Veep pick.
I think political wonks will someday mark this missed opportunity as the moment when Obama's political savvy finally finished turning from stainless steel to rust. The Dems will surely lick their wounds and re-write their convention rules and primary schedule and delegate selection procedures for 2016 — presumably to Clintonista specifications — during 2013-2014, when they take steps to prevent another accidental presidency by someone who's still coasting on fumes from one really good speech or exploiting one really appealing new angle. And some of them will wonder what might have been if only Obama had been slightly more adventurous, slightly more honest with himself about the risks of keeping Slow Joe, back in September 2012. As when the Dems recovered from the disastrous McGovern candidacy in 1972, as a party they'll surely tack more toward the center to return to competitiveness. That will probably be a good thing overall for the two-party system and for the country, and I support both.
"Bold and brittle talk, Beldar," you may say, "from one just proved so wrong." That may be, and this isn't the first time one of my predictions has come a cropper. But why should I lament the failure of my political opponents to exploit an opportunity that I saw, but that they, apparently, chose not to follow?
Just in case, though: I really, really do hope that President Obama has finally really given up smoking.
Wednesday, September 05, 2012
So what if a local meteorologist says that Thursday night is likely to be "the best weather of the entire week," with only a 20% chance of rain?
I think the Dems are just being pro-active here in recognizing that their natural constituency probably includes Wiccans. Some Wiccans may be from the west. A famous witch from the west once melted unexpectedly when she got wet. Mitt Romney probably admitted in his secret tax returns that a 20% chance of anyone melting at the Democratic National Convention is a perfectly acceptable gamble — but that just further highlights the stark choice facing Americans this November.
No, sir, Barack Obama may or may not have slowed the rise of the oceans as he promised. But no one is melting in the rain on his watch, regardless of his or her preferences regarding flying monkeys. And you can take that to the bank. (Just not to the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC.)
Hillary watch, pt. 2 [updated x 8]
I have a bad back myself. I know how back problems can flare up unexpectedly. So I'm certainly not asserting that Xi Jinping didn't really hurt his back:
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday and pledged greater cooperation despite tensions on a rising number of issues.
But a meeting with Mr. Hu's expected successor, Xi Jinping, was unexpectedly canceled for what a U.S. official said was a back injury.
The severity and cause of the injury wasn't clear on Wednesday. The U.S. official said the cancellation wouldn't likely affect the tenor of Mrs. Clinton's visit. A senior State Department official said Mr. Xi had also canceled appearances with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and an unidentified Russian official.
From other news reports, under the slightly alarming headline "China's Xi Jinping cancels Hillary Clinton meeting amid 'tensions,'" we learn this:
Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, asked at a joint news conference with Clinton about Xi's cancellation, said: "I hope people will not have unnecessary speculation."
China has in the past called off meetings at the last minute to show displeasure, although Xi has generally made US-friendly statements and sought warm relations during a trip across the United States earlier this year.
As I wrote earlier this week, I don't think our SecState would blow off an important meeting with the Chinese. I'm sure the senior State Department official who spoke to the WSJ's reporters was comprehensively briefed on the status of Mr. Xi's back and appointment schedule before going on the record (but not, apparently, for attribution by name) to Secretary Clinton's traveling press corps. And even the Chinese sometimes have trouble remembering the names of those Russian officials.
Surely only a delusional conspiracy theorist would believe that a high official in the Obama Administration might secretly bargain for a competing world power's cooperation by offering, for example, offering some vague quid pro quo during a second Obama term, when the President will have a little more flexibility.
But it might turn out to be awfully convenient for Secretary Clinton that Mr. Xi hurt his back if, for instance, she were in no particular hurry to get to Timor-Leste tomorrow to tour that coffee plantation.
So as I wrote on Monday: "I will be happy to be proved wrong, and I hope I will be." Nevertheless, "I'll believe Joe Biden's job is safe when I see reliable proof that Secretary Clinton has stepped onto the tarmac at the Presidente Nicolau Lobato International Airport in Dili."
UPDATE #1 (Wed Sep 5 @ 7:50am): Things are getting even weirder. Now WaPo correspondent William Wan is reporting from Beijing that other journalists can't get confirmation of the report I linked above from the Wall Street Journal, to the effect that the reason for cancellation was Mr. Xi's back:
The formal and highly scripted meetings in Beijing had their share of surprises. Besides the Wen comments, a meeting planned for Wednesday with Xi Jinping — the man expected to replace Hu Jintao as China’s president — was abruptly canceled upon Clinton’s arrival. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi did not explain the cancellation, only warning that people not use it as an excuse for "unnecessary speculation."
Xi also canceled meetings with the prime minister of Singapore and a Russian parliamentarian, according to U.S. officials. To try to make sure the United States would not interpret the cancellation as a snub, the Chinese set up a last-minute meeting instead with Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who is widely expected to succeed Wen as premier.
Yang also told the Clinton that the Chinese would deliver a letter to her from Xi on Wednesday.
Citing an anonymous U.S. official, the Wall Street Journal reported the Xi cancellation was due to a back injury, a claim that American diplomats traveling with Clinton refused to confirm.
I wish the WaPo had reported when the consolation meeting with Vice Premier Li Keqiang took place, or is scheduled to take place. But surely there is a perfectly innocent explanation for all this confusion. I'm just not clever enough to piece it together yet. Certainly none of these reporters who are rushing into print to contradict each other seem to sense that anything is amiss or other than what meets the eye. At least now we know that the unidentified Russian whose meeting with Mr. Xi was also cancelled was a parliamentarian instead of some other kind of official.
UPDATE #2 (Wed Sep 5 @ 8:15am): The NYT assures us that all is well and normal. The Chinese Foreign Ministry says so:
One of Mrs. Clinton’s most important appointments, a session with Vice President Xi Jinping, the likely next leader of China, was canceled. The Foreign Ministry said at its regular briefing that the cancellation was a “normal adjustment of the itinerary.” Mr. Xi also canceled his scheduled meeting Wednesday with Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong. “We have reached consensus with the United States and Singapore” on the cancellations, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, said.
Diplomats in Beijing said they were told that Mr. Xi had hurt his back and said there was no reason not to believe that explanation, even though there was speculation about whether the cancellation of the meeting with Mrs. Clinton was connected to the once-in-a-decade transition, or whether it was intended as a snub.
Instead of Mr. Xi, Mrs. Clinton met with the vice premier, Li Keqiang, who is expected to become the premier early next year. Earlier Wednesday, she met with President Hu Jintao, whose term ends next year, at the Great Hall of the People.
So why can't the WaPo's reporter find the same "diplomats in Beijing" that the NYT's reporters found?
UPDATE #3 (Wed Sep 5 @ 9:55am): Hanna Beech of TIME now reports more specifics. They do not reduce my curiosity, but perhaps they will yours:
The urgent notice from the U.S. embassy in Beijing arrived in e-mail inboxes at 10:26 on Wednesday morning. The press conference with China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been moved up suddenly to 10:30. That would be in four minutes’ time. Could members of the foreign press please proceed quickly to Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on the edge of Tiananmen Square? The reason for the last-minute change of schedule appeared to be a no-show by the man widely expected to take over from President Hu Jintao in China’s upcoming once-a-decade leadership transition. Clinton’s scheduled talk this morning with Vice President Xi Jinping had been called off by the Chinese side, paving the way for an earlier press conference with the Chinese Foreign Minister. In the Sept. 5 media briefing, Clinton sidestepped a question about whether Xi’s cancellation might reflect tensions between the world’s two biggest economies at a time when competing territorial claims in waters off China have marred the People’s Republic’s relations with its maritime neighbors.
Despite the Xi cancellation, Clinton met with President Hu and other top Chinese leaders in Beijing on Tuesday and Wednesday. According to the American side, Xi’s scheduled meeting with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Wednesday was also scrapped. One version of events ascribes the Chinese Vice President’s absence to an injured back. “The current schedule of the secretary’s visit has been agreed by both sides,” said Yang, presumably referring to Xi’s cancellation. “I hope people won’t have unnecessary speculation.” China’s chattering classes are atwitter over how the upcoming leadership transition will play out in the coming weeks, as the first of the high-level staffing changes within the government trickle out of the capital. In a country where analysts often must seize on the briefest of shadow plays in order to guess what’s really going on behind the bamboo curtain, it’s only natural that Xi’s no-show will set off the rumor mill. Perhaps China’s presumptive heir to the presidency really does have an aching back. But convincing China pundits of that may be tough.
I'm no "China pundit," so I'm convinced! This is totally, totally a coincidence. Certainly there's no reason to think President Obama would have any incentive to create, at the moment of his re-nomination, the same kind of spectacular international distraction from his record that he briefly enjoyed after the bin Ladin raid. Surely the speech he plans to deliver on Thursday night, and that of Vice President Biden earlier that same evening, will be so wondrous that we'll all laugh, just laugh, to think that he might have ever wanted Hillary to replace Slow Joe.
But it only takes about fifteen hours to get from Beijing to Charlotte, N.C., by air, even flying commercial. And my wild fantasy has never involved Secretary Clinton taking any risks to offend the Chinese. But the East Timoreans are, perhaps, a different story. So I'm still looking for that "Dateline: Dili" news report confirming Secretary Clinton's arrival in Timor-Leste before I'm 100% convinced.
UPDATE #4 (Wed Sep 5 @ 10:20am): Now the AP (via Bloomberg) reports:
Clinton had been scheduled to meet Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to take over as China's top leader later this year, but that was canceled by the Chinese for "unexpected scheduling reasons," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. A meeting between Xi and the visiting prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, also was canceled without explanation.
Yang would say only there should not be "unnecessary speculation" about changes to Clinton's schedule.
So we might infer that at least one of the State Department officials who's been speaking on this subject is Victoria Nuland. She is the "Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson," for the State Department, which is impressive in a place filled with deputies and assistant vice underlings. I wonder if she knows any Russian parliamentarians. I'm guessing yes. Ms. Nuland, if you happen to read this in the next 24 hours, could you leave me a comment below, please?
UPDATE #5 (Wed Sep 5 @ 11:40am): From a southwest Asian source with which I'm not familiar, so for which I cannot vouch, a quote and time reference I haven't seen elsewhere yet:
China's likely next president Xi Jinping has cancelled a meeting with the visiting US Secretary of State, a US official said Wednesday, amid friction between the two global powers.
Hillary Clinton had been due to meet Vice President Xi later Wednesday during a brief visit to Beijing that looks set to be dominated by a series of territorial disputes between China and its neighbours, notably in the South China Sea.
"We were informed after 11:00 pm last night by the Chinese side that for unexpected scheduling reasons, the meeting between Vice President Xi and Secretary Clinton is not going to happen today," said the official, who requested anonymity.
"We understand from the Chinese side that Vice President Xi's meetings with the prime minister of Singapore and a Russian official have also been cancelled today."
Lots of things happen late at night. People hurt their backs. Airplanes fly, sometimes to secret destinations. It's sure hard for me to figure out what's going on with the SecState's travels, though.
UPDATE #6 (Wed Sep 5 @ 11:50am): Now the WSJ's reporters, Brian Spegele and Monica Langley, have posted an updated story:
China and the U.S. made little visible progress in resolving thorny diplomatic disputes during a visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, as both sides stuck to long-standing positions on issues from regional territorial claims to violence in Syria.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government stayed silent on why Vice President Xi Jinping unexpectedly pulled out of a planned meeting with Mrs. Clinton on Wednesday. A U.S. official said Mr. Xi was suffering from a back problem. The incident highlighted how Beijing's information vacuum regarding its senior leaders spurs speculation by an increasingly curious and digitally savvy public.
Mr. Xi, the vice president, is expected to succeed Mr. Hu as Communist Party chief later this year and as president in 2013. Beijing's decision to cancel the meeting immediately drew speculation on the country's raucous online forums.
Chinese censors have struggled to quell political gossip on Twitter-like microblogging websites, which have become incubators for rumors. The rumors appear to be at least partly prompted by a lack of available information about the lives and work of China's senior leaders, whose very names are blocked on the services.
On Sina Corp.'s popular Weibo microblogging service, users who managed to evade censors put forward theories as to why Mrs. Clinton's meeting with Mr. Xi was canceled so suddenly.
"It seems like it's related to Japan's purchase today of the Diaoyu islands," wrote one user upon hearing the news, speculating that the Chinese might be preparing a military operation.
Mr. Yang, China's foreign minister, said there shouldn't be "unnecessary speculation" about why Mr. Xi's meeting was canceled.
Mr. Hong, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, described the cancellation as a normal "adjustment of itinerary" at Wednesday's daily press briefing.
One U.S. official said the meeting was canceled because Mr. Xi was suffering from a back problem. Further details were unclear. A senior State Department official said Mr. Xi had also canceled an appearance with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Mr. Xi, who is 59 years old, hasn't appeared since Saturday on the government's official nightly news broadcast, which routinely spotlights the activities of senior leaders.
Aha. Perhaps this really is all about the Diaoyu Islands.
But why would Victoria Nuland, the most official of spokespersons, permit herself to be quoted by name by some reporters (unless we assume they risked banishment by naming her after having promised not to), but not by others, in one or more conversations about this specific topic within the last 24 hours? Isn't it reasonable to infer that there was perhaps another senior Treasury Department official who's also been speaking to the press about this — and if so, is the She Who Must Not Be Named someone who once lived in Arkansas?
This is hugely amusing to me, however it all turns out. If you're still reading this post, you must share my slightly warped sense of humor, or perhaps you just credit the Dems with the same capacity for deviousness that I do.
UPDATE #7 (Wed Sep 5 @ 12:15pm): How hard does BeldarBlog work to find out what the Secretary of State is doing on the opposite side of the globe? I even check the People's Daily Online, the official state-sponsored Chinese newspaper, which does indeed give us another piece of the puzzle, while leaving other questions unanswered:
Clinton arrived in Beijing Tuesday evening for a two-day visit at the invitation of Yang. She met with Chinese President Hu Jintao Wednesday morning and is due to meet with Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice Premier Li Keqiang and State Councilor Dai Bingguo in the afternoon.
So the consolation-prize interview with Vice Premier Li Keqiang took place many hours ago, and with it ended her need to remain in Beijing: It's already 1:15am on Thursday there. Is the SecState airborne already? And if so, are they headed to East Timor, or to North Carolina?
UPDATE #8 (Wed Sep 5 @ 1:40pm):
The LA Times, which I am normally loathe to link, has this:
In a short, frustrating visit to Beijing, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was stood up Wednesday by the future leader of China and delivered a stern lecture on China’s rights in the South China Sea.
During the third stop in her nearly two-week sweep of Asia, Clinton had hoped to meet with Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to get the nod next month to succeed Hu Jintao as China's president.
Xi also canceled meetings Wednesday with the Singapore prime minister and Russian officials, claiming a back injury. Nonetheless, the no-show at the session with Clinton was widely interpreted as a snub.
Xi’s cancellation of his meetings Wednesday triggered speculation that something was amiss with his candidacy and censors blocked any reference to “back injury” on the voracious microblog sites.
This is beginning to remind me of Akira Kurosawa's 1950 classic film, Rashomon.
And by the way, the video in the newer WSJ piece I linked above is an interview with their Sydney correspondent; the audio link was quite bad. But he made a determined and impressive case for the proposition that Secretary Clinton's visit to Timor-Leste is actually quite important because that new country has a lot of offshore hydrocarbons that are being developed by consortia which include American companies like Conoco-Philips. Moreover, he argued, a visit from a high-level U.S. diplomat is actually needed to show our support in the face of increased competition or even threat to Timor-Leste by China. That's all perfectly plausible. Yet none of it explains why Secretary Clinton couldn't instead simply make the visit next week after she finishes up in Vladivostok, or some other convenient time this fall.
Tuesday, September 04, 2012
I am so very guilty as charged
Should a video like this (hat-tip Jay Nordlinger) get wider distribution?
That's a clown question, bro.
Sunday, September 02, 2012
If he was born in Honolulu, must he therefore be the Messiah?
The following photo (hat-tip Mark Hemingway at the Weekly Standard) is from a post by David Weigel, Slate's token sorta-conservative, who in turn scanned this photo from a calendar sold by a street vendor outside the premises of the gathering Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina — so it's not fairly attributable directly to Obama or the Obama-Biden[?] campaign.
Weigel concludes from this merely that "the Cult of Obama staggers on." I think I'd say instead: "The Cult of Obama is just about all that's left."
I understand the Left's mockery of "birthers." By their dogged fixation on this issue, the birthers have given Obama and his supporters an enormous and comical distraction from the genuine mysteries in Obama's past — of which there are many that have not been addressed, much less rebutted, by Obama or his supporters. Even relying only on that which Obama admits, one could easily have concluded in 2008 that he was poorly qualified for the presidency even if he did meet the minimum constitutional qualifications, just as one can conclude that his sorry performance in office since January 2009 has more than justified all such reservations. And now, his actual performance in his first term is vastly more relevant to the question of whether he should be re-elected in 2012 than anything which came before his election in 2008.
But it seems to me that even from the point of view of an Obama supporter, there ought to be an awful lot of middle ground between "was born in the U.S." and "is the Son of God whose coming was prophesized by the Jews."
And besides, if the printing on this photo were accurate, shouldn't the birth certificate say "Bethlehem" instead of "Honolulu"? I'm pretty sure that when King Herod convened the greatest scholars of Judaism to ask them where the Messiah would be born (Matthew 2:4-6), none of them said, "We think it will be somewhere on Oahu."
(Weigel's Flickr account purports to claim copyright over this photo for Weigel. That's almost certainly incorrect; if it's a copyrighted photo, those rights belong to whoever took it and/or photoshopped the printing and snapshot onto it, or possibly (if the originator's rights were transferred) to the calender's publisher. I reprint it here, as Weigel undoubtedly did in Slate and on his Flickr feed, in reliance on the "fair use" exception to the copyright laws, but making no claim to ownership on my own behalf.)
Thursday, August 30, 2012
Today's vocabulary word
I had thought myself to have a perfectly adequate vocabulary to describe and discuss President Obama. But I have just learned a new word that I am trying to commit to memory, in part through this post. It is a term that most certainly may be fairly applied to to many politicians, and it's something of which Gov. Romney has been accused as well.
But I believe President Obama is much prone to tergiversation. (Yes, follow the link; and while you're there, do be sure to click for the pronunciation, for it is not at all what I had guessed it might be.) Indeed, with the possible exception of Bill Clinton toward the end of his second term, I think President Obama is probably the most accomplished and habitual tergiversator I've ever encountered.
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Red books vs. blue books, and Obama's book(s) vs. Romney's book
Instapundit Glenn Reynolds links Amazon's Election Heat Map 2012, which contains Amazon.com's ongoing analysis of its sales of political books, which it divides into "neutral" books, "red" books, and "blue" books. A book's color, for this purpose, has nothing to do with its cover; instead, Amazon says it classifies political books as red or blue (rather than neutral) "if they have a political leaning made evident in book promotion material and/or customer classification, such as tags."
According to Amazon's current analysis, in the last 30 days, "red" books have outsold "blue" books by 56% to 44% nationally, and "red" books have outsold "blue" books in all states except New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia. Texas, colored cherry-red on Amazon's map, buys two "red" books for every "blue" book, but "red" books only hold a tenuous 2% lead in California.
Prof. Reynolds notes Amazon's sidebar, though, which tracks the sales of Barack Obama's second book, "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream," against Romney's "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness" — with Obama's book substantially outselling Romney's.
I haven't yet read Romney's book, but I read Obama's first quote-unquote "autobiography" — "Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance," quite closely before the 2008 election. Indeed, I compared Obama's "Dreams" to John McCain's "Faith of My Fathers" in a long post then — McCain versus Obama: 'placelessness,' faith, and dreams — which I think holds up pretty well today. (My two key conclusions: (1) "Barack Obama's young life, and the people around him then, were filled with unconnected randomness. John McCain's young life, and the people around him then, were filled with deeply shared purpose"; and (2) "McCain got a rock-solid and abiding 'faith' from his grandfather and father — faith in them, in himself, in the U.S. Navy and the other U.S. military forces, and most importantly, in all of America — while at best, Obama got only 'dreams' from his.")
I also tried to read "The Audacity of Hope" in 2008, but I frankly found it dull, nearly impenetrable, and entirely forgettable: It's not really another autobiography, and it has no plot or story. Rather, it's more or less a repackaged bundle of early Obama campaign speeches and position papers. It's a typical politician's book — which is to say, it's a book that exists to be bought (so it will generate a nicely laundered royalty), and to be displayed on supporters' bookshelves, not a book to actually be read by anyone other than a zombied sycophant whose brains have already been scooped out and consumed.
Of course, both of Obama's books are still selling — and providing him with a handsome continuing royalty stream — and if we counted both Obama books against Romney's one, the sales gap would surely be even larger. And indeed, when I noticed that Amazon had only pitted one of Obama's two books against Romney's single book, I thought perhaps that Amazon was guilty of an oversight.
But then I had a small epiphany, and I suddenly understood why "Dreams From My Father" wasn't included in Amazon.com's sale comparison:
It simply wouldn't be fair to compare fiction to nonfiction.
Thursday, August 16, 2012
Easements and beaches
I was just now skimming my email, in which I found an invitation to watch a continuing legal education program on important recent decisions of the Texas Supreme Court. One of the cases that's to be discussed is Severance v. Patterson, __ S.W.3d __, 2012 WL 1059341 (Tex. Mar. 30, 2012), whose holding the invitation describes as follows:
Private beachfront properties on Galveston Island's West Beach are not impressed with an easement that rolls or springs onto property. Never previously encumbered, although the law allows the State to prove an easement, as would anyone else.
And so help me, I couldn't stop myself from making and posting this:
Sunday, August 12, 2012
A true-life parable from Beldar on low interest rates, "free money," and Democrat logic
In July, for the first time during this millennium, I bought a car. I'm very happy with it and with the transaction by which I acquired it: I test-drove at the dealer closest to my home, did further comparison shopping and took competitive bids on the internet, and then struck a fair deal with no game-playing by me or the salesman I dealt with. But when I was arranging the paperwork, one of his colleagues was tasked by the dealership with selling me something I was not much interested in buying — one of their various extended warranty packages.
For some people and on at least some kinds of purchases, extended warranties can make economic sense. In my circumstances, for a purchase like a car, they don't: I'm at a lower than average risk than many other car owners whose vehicle use is more demanding than mine, I can usually tolerate the kind of cash flow disruption caused by unexpected car repairs, and when you add in the transaction costs and profit margin that's necessarily part of the price for an extended warranty, it just makes more sense for me to rely on the original manufacturer's warranty (which on this vehicle was already excellent) until it runs out, then to self-insure.
So I knew going into the conversation that there was zero chance that this fellow could persuade me, even though he was charming and professional and knowledgeable. I cut through most of the chase and told him my decision, and my rationale for it, right away. He didn't argue with my facts or logic.
But he had to at least give it one last try. So he pointed out that I could finance the entire up-front cost of a multi-year extended warranty using very attractive manufacturer-provided financing at less than one percent interest! "That's like doubling your original manufacturer's warranty using practically free money! It's too good a deal to pass up at those rates, even if you normally wouldn't buy the extended warranty package."
(I'm thinking to myself: Either this guy is a Democrat, or he thinks I think like one. He thinks I'm an Obama voter.)
"So," I asked, "this 'free money' — that means if I finance the cost of the extended warranty package, the manufacturer will loan me the entire cost and I'll only ever have to pay 1% of it back, and they'll just write off the rest at no charge to me, is that it?"
He looked at me with puzzlement; I think he was wondering if he'd overestimated my financial acumen. "No," he replied, "You'd just pay it back over several years' time at this very attractive interest rate."
"So I would still have to pay back every single dime that I borrow, plus a little more," I continued, "in order to buy something that I really don't want anyway and that I otherwise couldn't justify buying. Is that what you're telling me? And you think that because the extra I'd have to pay back is just a little more instead of a lot more, that makes this too good a deal to pass up?"
The confusion disappeared and was replaced with a moderately respectful grin. He pushed the paperwork to my side of the desk. "Check here and here to acknowledge that I explained the extended warranty options to you and that you declined them," he said, "and we're all done." I did, and we were.
Sunday, August 05, 2012
Unicorns and hypothetical close relatives of Harry Reid who may have been unsure whether he is or isn't a pederast until they consulted the interwebs
On Friday, Prof. Glenn Reynolds was kind enough to link my recent post about the Harry Reid pederasty rumors, opining that "firmness is justified when responding to slurs from a man widely rumored to be guilty of pederasty." Today he directs us to a thoughtful essay by ethicist and lawyer Jack Marshall in which Mr. Marshall opines that the recent blogospheric attention to the precise nature of the Senate Majority Leader's interest in young boys is "not fair but deserved."
Mr. Marshall urges us to re-take the high road, and that "when dealing with an individual as loathsome as Harry Reid," we should content ourselves with "denigrat[ing] him with the truth":
Reid himself deserves little sympathy, for the collective smear on his name was prompted by his own scurrilous rumor-mongering on the floor of the U.S. Senate, where he asserted that Mitt Romney hadn’t paid his taxes for a decade based on no evidence whatsoever. Nonetheless, while giving someone a “taste of his own medicine” is no doubt satisfying and perhaps even instructive, wrong is wrong, and spreading intentional lies, even about a public figure as devoid of decency and scruples as the Senate Majority Leader, is unethical. No conduct, no matter how nauseating, by its target can justify this. Stooping to Reid’s level can only further degrade civility and dignity in American public discourse, which is the objective of political sewer-dwellers like Reid, not anyone with the best interests of the nation in mind.
This is well put and high-minded. Less persuasive is this bit, though:
The meme is doing its work: Sen. Reid is on the way to being “santorumed.”* Google his name, and Google’s suggested searches put “Harry Reid pederast” third. By next week, it could be first. Will some unsuspecting, innocent and trusting citizens come across this completely fanciful libel of Reid and believe it? Perhaps even a young nephew or niece of the Senate Majority Leader? Oh, we can be sure of that.
I'm not at all sure of that. In fact, I think that's extremely unlikely. Here is the comment I left (which at this moment still awaits moderation; emphasis added):
Mr. Marshall, you argue well and eloquently. But I do not think YOUR fantasy — that some innocent, virginal young relative of Harry Reid will see his name associated with pederasty on the internet AND WILL BELIEVE IT — is a realistic one. Were Harry Reid not a public figure, your fantasy might be plausible. But there are equally bad, and worse, accusations leveled at controversial public figures on the internet every minute of every hour of every day, and this is not a new phenomenon. You’re more likely to persuade me that Harry Reid has sex with real unicorns than that he has anyone close to him whose opinion will be affected by this. Indeed, because they are close to him, they can judge him for themselves. [The people, I meant — not the unicorns, who are famously nonjudgmental.] That’s how real life works.
So: Plaudits for the moral stand. Brickbats for silly and counterfactual arguments to justify it. This is parody, and it has a point other than meanness.
Of course, so do Reid’s lies: HIS point is to actually deceive people.
That, by the way, is a common feature of pederasts.
Mitt Romney has hypothetical nieces and nephews too, you know. From their penthouses in the Grand Caymans, they probably have Google alerts set up to help them keep track of what they ought to think of Uncle Mitt, and I know that they value Harry Reid's opinion above all others.
I respectfully disagree with Mr. Marshall as to whether the fanciful risk of someone becoming persuaded by this meme that Harry Reid really is a pederast — and I'm not the one saying he is, nor am I the one whose political spokesman allegedly charactered the suggestion of Reid's potential pederasty, on the record, as "cute" — is sufficiently real to make it anything other than a theoretical problem. And I disagree with Mr. Marshall's characterization of these posts as being "the intentional spreading of lies." It's actually somewhat insulting to suggest that anyone in the extended Reid family, or for that matter, anyone anywhere, is as spectacularly gullible as Mr. Marshall's characterization would require. But I'll grant Mr. Marshall that Reid's own assertions about Gov. Romney are similarly insulting to the intelligence of the American public, and yet Reid clearly expects political gain from making them anyway.
In my own view, any arguable ethical breach is implicit in, and necessary to, the parody, which I believe to be fully justified; and any ethical shortfall is also mitigated at least to the point of adequate excuse by Reid's own deliberate and malicious lies about Mitt Romney. Were I to extend Mr. Marshall's rationale to its natural conclusion, I'd have to watch what I said about such non-pederastic monsters as Adolf Hitler or Ghengis Khan. Still, come to think of it, has anyone ever seen either of them and Harry Reid in the same room at the same time? Ever? The coincidences just keep adding up. And one thing is indisputable: No one with subpoena power has yet looked into any of these allegations. Sen. Reid's stonewall, in other words, seems to be working — for now.
Nevertheless: To the hypothetical adolescent niece or nephew of Creepy Friendly Old Uncle Harry who happens upon this post and is pondering it:
First, you're probably in big trouble if your parents catch you reading a conservative website. Remember to scrub your browser history, temp files, and cache.
Second, I confess that I know of no evidence to suggest that Harry Reid has sex with real unicorns either. I draw no adverse inference from his failure to deny it, because most people who have sex with real unicorns are understandably shy and reluctant to discuss it. (The unicorns are very private too, and it's easy to understand why no unicorn has yet come forward to admit to a sexual relationship with the powerful Senate Majority Leader.) Certainly you shouldn't think about any of these troubling internet rumors the next time you sit in his lap, because that would be wrong and unfair.
Just remember that your Uncle Harry could put a stop to this in the proverbial New York minute. He could admit that he was lying about Romney and resign from the Senate. Short of that, he could deny the rumors of his pederasty and, like I said earlier, release his personal porn collection.
Thursday, August 02, 2012
Harry Reid: Pederast?
We simply can't know that all the rumors about Harry Reid's pederasty are false until he releases his personal porn collection. Of course, if he denies having a porn collection, we will know he's a liar.
(There are also rumors that Reid and Mitt Romney are both Mormons. I know, that's hard to believe, but I hope someone looks into that. I'm sure someone from Team Obama will get around to it between now and November.)
An email from a law school friend prompted me to remember this post from 2004, in which I revealed the real dirt on John Kerry, too.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Silky Pony & co-star negotiate return of sex tapes
I, for one, am relieved by this news: "Sex tape of John Edwards [&] mistress to be destroyed within 30 days after lawsuit settlement."
My relief flows from the general proposition that it's a good thing to reduce, when possible, the total number of things in the universe which, if seen by me by accident, might make me want to stab myself in both eyeballs with knitting needles.
The first version of the story I'd read, from TheHill.com, reported that "all copies of the tape will be destroyed within 30 days." If accomplished, that would be a rare exception to the general rule of thumb about sex videos in the digital/internet age.
But if you read to the end of the AP story, you'll find that "[i]n the settlement, the Youngs pledged to seek the destruction of any copies of the sex tape that may now be in the possession of the federal government." Meaning there are such, and meaning that the feds haven't yet made any such commitment. Nor, likely, could they — not while six felony and misdemeanor campaign finance charges are still pending against Edwards in connection with his co-star.
Just in case, I'm going to avoid acquiring knitting needles.
UPDATE (Fri Feb 24 @ wee-smalls): Local press coverage indicates that we'll certainly hear and see more about the sex tape:
Hunter sued Young after Young's tell-all book published in February 2010 described the tape. The 21-page consent judgment and permanent injunction does carve out a notable exception to the disclosure injunction: items already sold by the Youngs as part of a movie deal based on the book.
"Ms. Hunter was demanding money up until very recently," said Robert Elliot, the Youngs' attorney....
This makes it sound like a financial wash, a walk-away deal where neither side paid any cash to the other. As for what's coming soon to your local motion picture theaters — or, maybe, not?
Information about the sex tape and the list known as "The Slut Club," as described in "The Politician," were specifically exempted from the non-publication order. The Youngs had sold the rights to the tape to Aaron Sorkin of Colvin Road Entertainment as part of movie deal for Young's story and book, according to the agreement, and Elliot said that anything said in the book is fair game.
However, in the agreement filed Thursday, Hunter explicitly retained the right to take the Youngs to court again with regard to the movie if more information stemming from the property returned to her is publicized.
Conspiracy theorists will immediately seize upon Aaron Sorkin's close ties to the Democratic Party and draw enthusiastic inferences and conclusions therefrom. But the Sorkin connection is actually old news. The old saying was that "Politics is show-business for ugly people" — but now it's just all an ugly blur, isn't it, even though some very pretty people are involved?
Saturday, February 04, 2012
Duty, breach, and bottle rockets
Librarians, taxonomists, cartographers, philosophers, priests, lawyers — many professions categorize things, trying thereby to define and explain them. One of the first times I got a sense of the sweep of the law, and its elegance, was when I learned the definition of "tort."
A tort is a noncontractual civil wrong.
A client, Paul, comes to a lawyer and says, "Doug hurt me and I need justice!" Paul's lawyer must not only decide what he can do for Paul, but what sort of law will be involved in getting Paul the relief he seeks from Doug. How did Doug come to hurt Paul? Was a contract involved? No? Was a crime committed? No. Then it must have been — a tort!
As legal reasoning goes, this is roughly the equivalent of the great chef boiling a pot of water: basic, basic.
Of course, Paul's and Doug's respective obligations toward, and rights against, one another depend on their respective positions and relationship. If Doug was Paul's next-door neighbor in a condo complex, Paul may have different expectations of Doug than if Doug had been, say, a business competitor from another continent. But one of the law's lowest common denominators — and therefore one of law's most commonly applied classifications — is simply that of the "reasonable person" who coexists with other reasonable people in the society subject to our laws. The civil law — tort law in particular, and negligence law even more particularly — implies a duty upon each of us, as a reasonable person, to use due care not to harm the people or property with which we interact. If one breaches that duty, one has committed the tort of negligence.
When tort lawyers plead their clients' cases in written petitions to the relevant court, then, those lawyers have, for centuries, been careful to touch all these bases: duty, breach, resulting injury.
And such is the magnificence of the law that almost anything you can imagine a person doing that might hurt some other person — so long as we're not talking crimes or contracts — can be dealt with through civil tort law. It's all about how you frame the legal issues to fit your particular factual setting, and, in particular, how you identify the relevant duty, breach, and injury.
That, I think, fully explains this case, in which the plaintiff alleged that the defendant owed, and breached, a duty to use reasonable care "not to fire bottle rockets out of his anus."
That would be the defendant's anus; sorry for the imprecision, but of course you can imagine a slightly different set of facts where a parallel duty and breach might arise with respect to the plaintiff's own anus. Law professors delight in setting up factual hypotheticals like this, and then selectively varying one fact at a time to see when and why the outcome might change. At some point during the variations on this particular hypothetical, there's a near certainty that flying monkeys will become involved.
Majestic and subtle is the law. Isn't it? (Hat-tip: InstaPundit.)
Monday, November 21, 2011
Wishful thinking on the Left
"This is our most desperate hour. Help us, Obi-Wan Hillary! You're our only hope!"
— My paraphrase of this Clintonista op-ed in today's WSJ, which urges Obama to abandon his campaign so that the Dems can nominate his SecState as their 2012 presidential candidate "by acclamation." (So much for small-d democracy in the Democratic Party, eh?)
Actually, if they could just get Joe Biden, John Boehner, and Daniel Inouye to resign in series immediately after Obama did, then the Dems could run Hillary as the incumbent.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Wait, but ... Really? You're sure there's an Article VI in the Constitution?
If, like me, you're a fan of Iowahawk's satires, then I also commend to you this fine one from my friend Dafydd ab Hugh at Big Lizards:
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Woulda, coulda, shoulda
Instapundit Glenn Reynolds points out that while he "understand[s] Democrats [now] wishing" that they’d nominated Hillary Clinton instead of Barack Obama in 2008, "her performance as Secretary of State has been something less than stellar."
I agree, but would add:
If the GOP had only nominated my guy in 2008 instead of McCain, he'd not only have beaten Obama and then restored financial sanity to the United States government, but when our intelligence agencies finally tracked down bin Laden, he'd have personally commanded the aircraft carrier from which bin Laden's corpse was fed to the fishes.
I wrote in 2007 that "I'm convinced that whether it's Hillary, Obama, or Edwards, the Dems are going to feel serious buyers' remorse on the day after their nominee is finally decided." I didn't predict, however, that they'd be still be feeling such serious remorse, or rather, even more serious remorse, in 2011.
As things are, this business has gotten out of control, and we'll be lucky to live through it.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
"And you tell Boehner that when I was representing Delaware in the Senate, we had — Squirrel!"
I haven't yet finished reading today's WaPo article entitled "Nervous Democrats say President Obama must be bolder on economy" because I was too cracked up by this accompanying official White House photo taken during the debt ceiling negotiations:
Why they chose that photo to release, I cannot imagine.
Slow Joe Biden's talents are wasted on politics. He should have been in vaudeville.
(Readers are welcome to leave their own alternative — especially better, funnier — captions in the comments to this post.)
Thursday, July 21, 2011
More proof that you ought not trust cover art
I remember seeing Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte when it came out in the theaters. I was about seven or eight. It scared the bejabbers out of me — particularly a beginning scene in which someone hacks off (a painfully young) Bruce Dern's hand and head with a meat cleaver, and then a later scene in which the body parts tumble down a staircase. The maudlin theme-song and lyrics are simple and haunting, hard to put out of mind — and so of course they too became part of my recurring nightmares.
Bette Davis was much more terrifying than any spider, real or fictional, if you ask me.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
A whole 'nuther reason I'll never buy a Chrysler product ever again
My first-ever car, in the mid-1970s, was a used Oldsmobile Cutlass, and I put a solid 100k miles on it over a seven-year period before I sold it. And in the 1990s, my family owned, and enjoyed, a Chrysler minivan that met our needs very nicely indeed.
I was disgusted, however, with the Obama Administration's thuggish suppression of the rule of law in both the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies, and as a matter of principle I'll never again buy a product manufactured by the post-Chapter 11 successors of either.
I'm generally a fan of actor Sam Elliott, who did the voiceover for this particular commercial. I like him in no small part because his deep, rumbly, and twangy voice sounds authentically western to me. He's not a Texan, and perhaps his accent is affected rather than natural, but he could probably pass for a Texan in most towns here.
So I was just jarred — and very, very disappointed — to hear him just now say, "Talkin' a big game about your enjin' is one thang. Havin' thuh proven history that kin back it up is uh whole other story."
Oh, that's just so wrong. That last phrase has to be written, and said, as "uh whole 'nuther story."
I mean, there he was, with a dramatic sound-track and tough-looking trucks on the screen, sounding all rough and rugged and ready to take on something muddy and difficult, maybe even patriotic — and suddenly, by the shift in his voice, a whole corn cob must have been teleported about eight inches up his lower bowel.
I'm going to choose, with absolutely no evidence either way, to assume that Mr. Elliott almost got into a fist-fight over his deep-set objections to delivering the line that way, but he finally backed down because he was donating the proceeds to European orphans made destitute by the organic beansprout food-poisoning epidemic. I choose to so believe so that I won't dislike him forever, because if I dislike Sam Elliott forever, I will no longer be able to maintain my belief that the Dude abides, which would disappoint me.
But as for whoever insisted that the line be read as "whole other," I have just one word:
Thursday, June 09, 2011
As I wrote last week, I respectfully disagree with Ann Althouse that Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) ever had any substantial legal exposure to Twitter or Facebook or yfrog on some sort of defamation claim based on his oft-repeated lies claiming his accounts with those services had been "hacked."
So the only thing I have to say this week is this: With his tearful press conference this week, he's now effectively mitigated whatever potential defamation damages exposure he might arguably have had if Prof. Althouse was right: Nobody in the known world now believes that someone hacked his accounts, and there's no possibility of continued damage to Twitter's or Facebook's or yfrog's reputations as a result of this whole debacle.
Smart move, Tony!
(In fact, maybe mitigating his defamation damages exposure was his real motivation to "pretend" to have lied, instead of him being motivated to "pretend" to have lied because he's now the victim of that blackguard Breitbart's blackmail schemes! Yeah, that's the ticket! Alert the media! Someone email Joy Behar!)
Apocalyptic financial numbers
Here's a comparison for James Taranto's Best of the Web Today column:
Barack Obama's worst week was about more than bad data. The two great legislative monuments to the first Obama term, the remaking of the health-care industry and the Dodd-Frank financial reform, look like they've got serious structural cracks. A McKinsey report estimates that a third of employers will abandon their health-insurance plans come 2014. On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the failure (or inability) of Dodd-Frank's regulatory arm to write new rules for the $583 trillion derivatives market has the financial sector in a panic over its legal exposure.
— Daniel Henninger, Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2011.
The International Swaps and Derivatives Association said Tuesday that the true size of the global over-the-counter derivatives market is closer to $401 trillion, not the $583 trillion estimate given by the Bank for International Settlements late last year.
— Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2011.
I don't know about you, but I feel much better after reading that second blurb. $182 trillion difference here, $182 trillion difference there, and pretty soon you're talking about some real money!
(This discrepancy aside, the Henninger article is well worth your read, and scary as hell.)
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
God save the Queen
This is painfully funny — at "life imitating 'Saturday Night Live'" levels:
I suppose we should be grateful that Obama didn't confront the Brits over their bizarre rudeness in interrupting his speech with that instrumental version of "My Country 'Tis of Thee."
Gutsy toast, though.
Saturday, April 02, 2011
What to call what's going on in Libya
I've been arguing since March 2 that no one would ever believe the U.S. wasn't in charge of any coalition military activities in Libya, since "in the Marines' Hymn, there's already this line about the 'shores of Tripoli,' which goes back to this whole 1805 thing when Jefferson was President and he established the first Navy SEALS or something."
Today, a liberal friend of mine argued in the comments to another post that "[h]istorical reference isn't helpful" in the present context. I disagree, of course; history is almost always relevant and usually essential to understand what's happening now.
Calling the 1991-1992 conflict with Saddam for the liberation of Kuwait the "First Gulf War," and the liberation of Iraq itself in 2003 the "Second Gulf War," would be very orderly, but that nomenclature still doesn't seem to have caught on. Quite a bit of both wars were fought in Iraq, and both were fought against Iraq, but I think Bush-41 discouraged calling the earlier one "the Iraq War" because he wanted to keep the focus on liberating Kuwait. But we couldn't call that one "the Kuwait War" because that would have suggested we were making war on Kuwait, which we weren't. It doesn't make much sense to call the liberation of Iraq "the Second Gulf War" because Iraq (in contrast to Kuwait) only has a small (albeit very important) coastline along the Persian Gulf. And then there's the confusion caused by some people already calling the war between Iraq and Iran from 1980-1988 "the Gulf War"; I think that usage has dimished lately.
Nevertheless, I'm much amused by Jonah Goldberg's suggestion that "we should call this [Libyan affair] the Third Barbary War." (Jonah, I would link you, but I don't know how to link your emailed "Goldberg File" work.) Yes, it's (once again) on the Barbary Coast; and yes, it's (once again) to restrain the actions of one or more barbarians!
Friday, March 25, 2011
Beldar on Simon on Kelly
Why would my friend Roger L. Simon — who's one of the most savvy "new media" practitioners around — wish such misfortune on Megyn Kelly?
Alternately phrased: Why would he wish such undeserved good fortune upon CBS?
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
A question for EDMO supporters
Should we now put up giant sheets of butcher paper on the walls of whatever buildings are adjacent to the site of the proposed new Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero; set up step-ladders and bins of brightly colored magic markers; and then have "Everyone Draw Mohammed Next Door to the Ground Zero Mosque Day"? Or perhaps we should have it there every day?
I'm sure some of the patrons (or if not, the hecklers) from Greg Gutfield's gay bar next door would participate, and heck, being a fun and funny guy who's rolling in the big media bucks these days, Greg might even donate the wall space, paper, markers, and ladders!
Monday, April 26, 2010
Headlines that seem to explain a lot
From the dead-trees version of today's Houston Chronicle, from page B5 on the continuation of an article from page B1:
It turns out that the lawyer in question wasn't speaking about himself, and that "Bustamante" is actually the client. I suppose I should have known that no lawyer would have been that honest about himself/herself. No word yet, though, on the mental acuity of the Chronicle editor who wrote this headline.
Friday, October 02, 2009
Blame where due
Of course, it's entirely George W. Bush's fault that Chicago didn't get the 2016 Olympic Games.
UPDATE (Fri Oct 2 @ 12:32 p.m.): I wrote the one-sentence post above as a joke, based just on reading a news headline on my Blackberry over lunch. But when I turned to the New York Times' report on the International Olympic Committee's decision which reportedly left the U.S. bidders "stunned" and refusing comment, Chicago having been considered "a favorite" and certainly unlikely to be eliminated in the first round of voting I found that our chattering classes are already hard at work laying the groundwork for the finger-pointing that I thought would be only parody (italics mine):
The 10-person Chicago bid team, led by the president and Mrs. Obama, put on a presentation heavy on emotion and visual images without getting too deep into he details of the bid.
“To host athletes and visitors from every corner of the globe is a high honor and a great responsibility,” Mr. Obama whose Chicago home is a short walk from the prospective Olympic Stadium. “And America is ready and eager to assume that sacred trust.”
In the official question-and-answer session following the Chicago presentation, Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, asked the toughest question. He wondered how smooth it would be for foreigners to enter the United States for the Games because doing so can sometimes, he said, be “a rather harrowing experience.”
Mrs. Obama tapped the bid leader Patrick G. Ryan, so Mr. Obama could field that question.
“One of the legacies I want to see is a reminder that America at its best is open to the world,” he said, before adding that the White House and State Department would make sure that all visitors would feel welcome.
And from the Chicago Tribune's telling of the same tale (italics again mine):
The city's presentation ended at 2:52 a.m., with President Obama answering a final question from the floor.
The question: Sometimes foreigners entering the United states can go through a rather harrowing experience. With the influx of so many thousands of people during the Games period, how do you intend to deal with this?
Obama responded: "One of the legacies I want to see is a reminder that America at its best is open to the world."
He pledged the "full force of the White House and the State Department to make sure not only that these are successful Games but that visitors all around the world will feel welcome and will come away with a sense of the incredible diversity of the American people."
Perhaps with the Bush administration in mind, he added: "One of the legacies, I think, of this Olympic games in Chicago would be a restoration of that understanding of what the United States is all about and the United States' recognition of how we are linked to the world."
Yes, in the Gospel According to Barack, all in America before The One was darkness and evil, but now all is hopey-changitudinous goodness. Even direct intervention by The One Himself wasn't enough to overcome the lingering poison of Boooooosh!
From the first NYT article quoted above, however, we can find an entirely sufficient factual rebuttal to this particular "Blame Dubya" argument: "New York’s bid was eliminated in the second round of voting for the 2012 Olympics." Even in 2005, then post 9/11, with Dubya still at the helm nationally, and with both Hillary Clinton and Michael Bloomberg leading the presentation the U.S. fared better in the I.O.C.'s deliberations, at least making it to the second round of voting.
UPDATE (Sat Oct 3 @ 7:45 a.m.): One of Rich Lowry's email correspondents complied a fabulous "Top Ten" list of reasons why Chicago didn't get the Olympics, and guess what's Number One? Elsewhere, InstaPundit links Dana Loesch, who links CMR.com quoting disgraced U.S. Senator Roland Buris as saying "that the image of the U. S. has been so tarnished in the last 8 years that, even Barack Obama making an unprecedented pitch for the games could not overcome the hatred the world has for us as a result of George Bush." Examiner.com also attributed the same statements to Burris, but someone on Burris' staff had the good sense to scrub the Bush-blaming from his official press release congratulating Rio de Janeiro for winning the competition. (Jokingly or not, the WaPo's Dana Milbank in turn blames ... Burris!)
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Today's spam email header that's least likely to pique my further interest
"It will be hard for women to resist the temptation not to sleep with you."
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Steyn's blood and guts assessment
Steyn made me laugh when I wasn't in a very funny mood. Thanks, Mark.
[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at HughHewitt.com.]
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
(Or is it exit pollsters? Or pundits who give credit to exit poll data?)
Care to cast an internet ballot against Obama?
This guest-post had a link to a poll in which Bill Kristol seriously kicked Barack Obama's butt. Seriously. Ninety-three percent said Kristol was better on "The Daily Show" than The One.
[Copied here for archival purposes on November 5, 2008, from the post linked above at HughHewitt.com.]
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Some will view this as another chance to vote against Barack Obama.
As for me, though, it's a chance to express some solidarity with Bill Kristol as another early and steadfast Sarah Palin supporter. (H/t John McCormack at the Weekly Standard Blog.)
Best blog comment of the week
WTG Karl, for a comment at Patterico's that made me LOL. That's what I said in an October 29th guest-post at HH.com.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
The Politico today:
It is not our impression that many reporters are rooting for Obama personally. To the contrary, most colleagues on the trail we’ve spoken with seem to find him a distant and undefined figure.
The Politico, April 21, 2008:
The difference seems clear: Many journalists are not merely observers but participants in the Obama phenomenon.
(Harris only here: As one who has assigned journalists to cover Obama at both Politico and The Washington Post, I have witnessed the phenomenon several times. Some reporters come back and need to go through detox, to cure their swooning over Obama’s political skill. Even VandeHei seemed to have been bitten by the bug after the Iowa caucus.)
(VandeHei only here: There is no doubt reporters are smitten with Obama’s speeches and promises to change politics. I find his speeches, when he’s on, pretty electric myself. It certainly helps his cause that reporters also seem very tired of the Clintons and their paint-by-polls approach to governing.)
All this is hardly the end of the world. Clinton is not behind principally because of media bias; Obama is not ahead principally because of media favoritism. McCain won the GOP nomination mainly through good luck and the infirmities of his opposition. But the fact that lots of reporters personally like the guy — and a few seem to have an open crush — did not hurt.
For a mostly online publication, these guys have not really caught onto that whole “the Internet will fact-check your ass” thing.
From Karl, commenting at Patterico.com (yes, it's .com again).
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Actually, I am Bill too, but not THAT Bill
My latest guest-post at HughHewitt.com links a funny ha-ha piece from Iowahawk that's also funny-sad (when you drill down through the links). And yes, Bill Ayers is still a twisted dollop of evil scum.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
To counterbalance all of the "I am Joe" hoopla given to Joe the Plumber, Iowahawk has posted a stirring, link-filled defense of Bill Ayers that's not to be missed. (H/t DRJ at Patterico.NET, where Patterico.COM is still in exile.) Sample paragraph about the twisted dollop of evil scum:
I AM BILL. I grew up in a simple little gated community just like yours, with white picket fences and where all the aux pairs and gardeners know your name. When my dad came home from a hard day's work as a CEO, he was never too tired to help me with my homework or tousle my hair for winning the Lake Forest Academy essay contest on Hegelian Dialectics. Yes, he was a simpleminded bourgeois technocrat of the capitalist war machine, but he made sure I got the tuition and tutors and sailing lessons and allowance I needed to make it on my own. I wish he was still alive so I could tell him how much I really planned to kill him last.
Good stuff — wicked satire that's close to the bone.
SNL opening skit on Biden & Murtha gaffes
Early this morning I guest-posted an embedded video clip of SNL's opening spoof last night on Rep. Jack Murtha's and Sen. Joe Biden's amazing accidental truth-tellings of the past week.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
As a comedy skit, I'd rate this about a four on a one to ten scale. As a long, painful reminder of the significance of Joe Biden's and Jack Murtha's recent, unguarded comments, I'd give it a nine, though.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Caribou Barbie rocks on an otherwise dreadful episode of SNL
Alec Baldwin is still a vile idiot, but to his credit, he allowed himself to be parodied in Gov. Palin's very effective appearance on "Saturday Night Live." I still wouldn't let him in the same building with either of my daughters. More comments about Gov. Palin and the notion of "presence" in my guest-post at HughHewitt.com.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Okay, I've only seen the intro, and I'm going to reserve judgment until I see the whole show, but:
Way to go, Gov. Palin, on the introduction in "Saturday Night Live"!
I'm proud to have predicted that you would embrace your inner Caribou Barbie!
UPDATE (Sun 12:20 a.m. CST): Mmm-kay, the rest of the show has been horrible, and I ought to have just fast-forwarded to the Weekend Update section. Gov. Palin looks great in it — confident, good rhythm — but she's obviously just going along with a lame "rap" skit to be a good sport, and it's not as funny as the opening was.
The rest of the show made me regret every time I shifted out of fast-forward. Still, Gov. Palin's stage presence and comic timing is lots better than that of the nominal guest host, Josh Brolin, who's basically a nice-looking block of wood. If anything, his appearance is likely to drive down the box-office for Oliver Stone's new movie, the reviews for which have been universally awful.
Gov. Palin has been the classiest part of the show, in my admittedly biased opinion. Good for her.
UPDATE (Sun 2:00 a.m. CST): Ann Althouse writes:
That was mildly amusing. Alec Baldwin got to stand next to Palin and insult her — by accident, thinking she was Tina — and then got to say something that's true: Sarah Palin is more attractive than Tina Fey. Did Fey deserve that? No. Palin seemed like a seasoned actor, which is nice ... but disturbing. If our politicians are great actors, we have a big problem.
But it's not acting. It's presence. And yeah, Reagan had it too, and Bubba could work himself into it on his best occasions (when he wasn't too deep into self-pity and wickedness, which was all too often). It can be a useful part of leadership.
I've been a fan of Tina Fey's impersonations — she's a gifted mimic and exaggerates to great comic effect. But Prof. Althouse is right: Gov. Palin was vastly more attractive than Tina Fey-as-Palin tonight, not only in terms of looks, but in terms of authenticity and presence. It will leave some people whose only previous impression of Gov. Palin was through Fey's caricatures surprised and, if they're Palin opponents, confused and dismayed.
From the First Gospel of Obama (NYT revised translation)
The One actually was engaged in an evangelical crusade to convert the San Franciscans to the glories of guns and religion. That's why he tried to persuade the NYT's Matt Bai, who reprints a couple of long and incomprehensible paragraphs along those lines which inspired my latest whimsical guest-post at HughHewitt.com.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar).
And so it came to pass, in the tenth month of the eighth year of the third millennium, and nigh upon the time of the next Great Census, that The One remained most grievously afflicted by the wound that He had caused Himself many weeks earlier in the City of the Golden Gated Bridge when, with His own quicksilvered tongue, He had verily shot Himself in the foot.
For the wound would not heal, and the disbelievers and nonbelievers alike continued to smell its fester while clinging bitterly to their guns and religion.
And to His aid then, aboard His great flying bird above the rainbows, swiftly came the emissary of the Grey Lady of the East from the bluest of the Blue States, Matthew of the Clan of Bai on the Isle of Manhattan in the Kingdom of York the Newer. To Matthew, The One did spew new words aplenty, the very first of which Matthew dutifully caught and sought to weave into a mighty bandage.
And The One — whilst clothed in a stiff smooth shirt of virgin white and a scarf of robin-egg blue which Matthew much envied — did bless the bandage with more sweet words and blessings of hopey-changitude, invoking with His words and His countenance such miracles as would change poop into honey, pus into butter, disdain into adoration, and night into day. Wrote Matthew, of the Words of The One:
[T]he moment Obama would most like to take back now, if he could, was the one last April when, speaking to a small gathering of Bay Area contributors, he said that small-town voters in Pennsylvania and other states had grown “bitter” over lost jobs, which caused them to “cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them.” ...
“That was my biggest boneheaded move,” Obama told me recently. We were sitting across from each other on his plane, the one with the big red, white and blue “O” on the tail, flying some 35,000 feet above Nebraska. “How it was interpreted in the press was Obama talking to a bunch of wine-sipping San Francisco liberals with an anthropological view toward white working-class voters. And I was actually making the reverse point, clumsily, which is that these voters have a right to be frustrated because they’ve been ignored. And because Democrats haven’t met them halfway on cultural issues, we’ve not been able to communicate to them effectively an economic agenda that would help broaden our coalition.” ...
“I mean, part of what I was trying to say to that group in San Francisco was, ‘You guys need to stop thinking that issues like religion or guns are somehow wrong,’ ” he continued. “Because, in fact, if you’ve grown up and your dad went out and took you hunting, and that is part of your self-identity and provides you a sense of continuity and stability that is unavailable in your economic life, then that’s going to be pretty important, and rightfully so. And if you’re watching your community lose population and collapse but your church is still strong and the life of the community is centered around that, well then, you know, we’d better be paying attention to that.”
Thus by the magic and grace of The One would the bitter be transmuted to the sweet, and the clinging of the unwashed masses into the joyous light embrace of the enlightened. And Matthew of the Clan of Bai pressed the bandage upon The One's wounded foot, and cast the Words of The One out upon the wave of the InterWebs and into the swollen streams of the Ancient Media.
But the disbelievers were still not deceived, and even the nonbelievers still wrinkled their noses at the "honey" from The One, which they were asked to consume whilst handing to The One their purses for redistribution.
"Bah," quoth Beldar the Heretic, "It doth still reek of poop to me. Fetch me Joe the Plumber."
Friday, October 17, 2008
You might think Barack Obama would be the better stand-up comic as between him and John McCain, but you'd be wrong. The proof is in the embedded video in the report I've linked (in my latest guest-post at HughHewitt.com) from last night's Al Smith dinner, at which Sen. Obama seemed to be getting his own jokes a half-beat after he'd told them.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
Politics ain't beanbag. It's harsh, and when it's unrelenting, it can make you feel mean and nasty about the other side or maybe the whole world.
So relent for a moment. Read this account of Sen. McCain's and Sen. Obama's appearances last night at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York, "the white-tie charity roast that has long served as a light-hearted rest stop on the road to the White House." Watch the embedded video there.
When you've had a good chuckle or two, take a few cleansing breaths. Resolve that in your next political argument — at the water-cooler, or in the comments here — you'll be a bit less trenchant, a bit more respectful, if no less devoted.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Treebeard & Botox
As is my wont, I'm using Sunday evening to watch recordings of the morning's talking head shows. Right now I'm watching Sens. Lindsey Graham and John Kerry, neither of whom I'm particularly fond of, being quizzed by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday (having already watched a remarkably good performance by John McCain on the ABC News program, in which he delivered a heartfelt and rousing defense and continued endorsement of Gov. Palin, among other strong moments).
But I can't concentrate on what Sen. Kerry is saying because I can't stop watching for any signs of normal human movement in his face at eyebrow level and above. He looks considerably less craggy and wrinkled now than he did in 2004. But his eyebrows and forehead look paralyzed. (His hair, of course, has always been blow-dried and plasticized into inertness, and that remains the same.)
I've got the sound turned off, fully aware of the narcoleptic dangers of prolonged exposure to his voice. And I'm just running the segments showing him, in HDTV on a 50" screen, at various speeds to see if I can track any movement. There's absolutely none: smoother skin, yes, but deathly still. It's far more creepy than looking at Joe Biden's hairline.
What a sad, vain punchline John Kerry is. Is there anyone in America to whom this cannot be completely obvious by now, even if they voted for him in 2004?
Friday, September 26, 2008
Will Obama loom over McCain in the debates?
Four words: "What about Dingle-Norwood?" If that doesn't ring a bell, you probably should read my latest guest-post at HughHewitt.com.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
In an interesting article about presidential debates, WaPo staff writer Robert G. Kaiser predicts that viewers "will see, for example, that Obama towers over McCain by nearly half a foot, perhaps an unexpected visual for many voters."
Of course, Al Gore had a height advantage over George W. Bush. But as things turned out, that only made Gore look creepy and weird when he stalked over toward Dubya's side of the stage during one of Bush's turns to speak in their debate on October 17, 2000. Demanded Gore, "But what about Dingle-Norwood?" Bush did a double-take at Gore's looming figure, and then gave him a small nod — which set an otherwise well-behaved audience into laughter — and an oblivious Gore beamed self-righteously and glided back to his seat as if he'd just scored some huge coup.
My strong hunch is that Obama's handlers will have instructed him to stay behind the rostrum at all times. And certainly when they appeared together at Ground Zero during the most recent 9/11 anniversary observances, their height difference, while observable, wasn't of Mutt and Jeff proportions.
Visuals do matter, but I don't think this election will end up being much affected by Obama's height advantage — no more than by his superior accuracy from outside the three-point line.
Obama's tin ear
I think Obama has blown any chance he might have had to win the election with a single ill-chosen word, which is revealed in my latest guest-post at HughHewitt.com.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
This is just so wrong!
Met at [his Senate office] door by a few reporters, [Barack Obama] answered a key question — at least for his generation.
"Stones," Obama replied.
(Hyperlinks mine.) I would have thought this was something on which, during this time of crisis, we could get cross-generational, bipartisan agreement. But Sen. Obama disappoints, yet again.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Pix for animal lovers
Okay, this one I'm not going to cross-post at Hugh's place, in part because I'm not comfortable enough with the interface there yet to deal with photos confidently, and in part because I'm really just re-posting two photos that were originally juxtaposed in the Humane Society Legislative Fund's endorsement of the Obama-Biden ticket over the McCain-Palin ticket (h/t John McCormack at the Weekly Standard's Blog):
I would almost be content to have the American public decide the election based on these two photographs, but that would be short-changing John McCain and Joe Biden. Let's see: Add in the shot of McCain on his back at the Hanoi Hilton and a before-and-after of Biden's hair plugs. Yeah, that'd be about right.
I'm just hoping that someone photoshopped Obama and the poodle in front of the Lincoln Memorial background. It's frightening, but altogether plausible, for me to imagine that he (and the pooch) blew off holding a meeting of his Senate Foreign Affairs subcommittee on our NATO allies' responsibilities in Afghanistan in order to go snap that photo. (Note how this photo demonstrates Obama's easy grace in dealing with the French.)
Of course, the same limousine liberals who are shocked almost to hurling at the idea of Sarah Palin teaching her daughter to hunt were themselves greatly touched when they took their own kids to a Broadway performance of "The Lion King." All that "circle of life" stuff, after all, is best in CGI, or at least contained to theater props. They sleep better at night knowing that Kiefer Sutherland and Martin Sheen are protecting us from the bloodthirsty terrorists.
These pictures are actually a great study in cognitive dissonance and the Left's inability to grasp how someone can simultaneously be, for example, a Christian who believes in evolution, or a pro-life feminist, or an animal-loving hunter, or a tender warrior.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
"Caribou Barbie" kicks serious tail
I've got another guest post up at HughHewitt.com, giving credit for humor where due but urging Gov. Palin to embrace her inner Caribou Barbie.
(Guest Post by Bill Dyer a/k/a Beldar)
I'm a self-confessed and joyful partisan — Hugh Hewitt being a fine role model in that respect, as well as my gracious blogging host during this election season! — and I'm constantly reminded that partisanship quickly becomes tedious without frequent interjections of humor. My own blogging runs the gamut from deadly-serious (as in my post about the Obama-Biden campaign's deliberately repeated mockery of John McCain's physical disabilities from his POW days) to thoroughly snarky (as in my fisking of David Talbot's latest "reporting" from Alaska about Gov. Sarah Palin in Salon.com), with the snark intended to bring some humor at my targets' expense. But I also believe that it's important to remain open to one's political opponents' arguments, and essential to remain open to the humor (snarky or otherwise) that may accompany them. Thus, even though it's still early in the week, and even though it's been in usage even earlier (with over 100k Google references already):
My nomination for "Funniest snarky reference from the Left" for this week comes from those who've described Gov. Palin as "Caribou Barbie."
I just think that's a hoot — short, universally understandable, a tight riff on "Malibu" (with all its own associations), and even rhythmic and alliterative! Indeed, "Caribou Barbie" sounds like someone who might be dating Crocodile Dundee, which actually, except for that whole hemispheric-reversal thing, sort of describes "First Dude" Todd, too.
I know it's intended to be mocking, and when it flies from the lips or keyboards of Gov. Palin's opponents, it arrives dripping with ridicule. But neither you nor I nor Gov. Palin is required to accept that intention, and nothing prevents us from flipping it.
I have two teenaged daughters, and they did indeed have (and I'm pretty sure still do have, somewhere in a closet) multiple Barbies. As a Sputnik baby myself, more than a few hours of my own childhood were spent with a playmate named Alice down the street, and yes, I'm proud to have been Ken. I consider Barbie to be a friend, and I admire her.
Barbie is an American icon that's long-since gone world-wide, a multi-billion dollar five-decade success story on all sorts of meta-levels. And we're decades past the days when only little girls could play with dolls, or when those dolls, when female, could only be fantasized about as stay-at-home mommies (who got little enough credit for even that). Of course, "Barbie(reg)" and associated trademarks and tradenames belong to Mattel, Inc. One of its 2002 press releases tells us that although Barbie's "first career was [as] a teenage fashion model" in 1959, since then she's "had more than 80 careers — everything from a rock star to a paleontologist to a presidential candidate." Thus does life imitate toys imitating life.
Gov. Palin has an excellent, and oftentimes michievous, sense of humor. I don't expect that that's how she introduced herself today to Afghan President Hamid Karzai or Colombian President Alvaro Uribe — but if she had, they'd have probably gotten the joke. I'm not a campaign spokesman, nor a campaign adviser, but as with the "Sarah Barracuda" nickname, my recommendation to her would be:
"Embrace your inner Caribou Barbie, Governor!" Because if (as I believe is true) today's Barbie, in all her many incarnations, kicks tail in general, then surely Caribou Barbie from Wasilla will find plenty of all-too-serious tail to kick in Washington, too.
Monday, September 08, 2008
Trials and turmoils of The One on the rough, tough campaign trail
Quoth The One, on the subject of his many sacrifices, 'midst high-dollar donors ($2,300 or $30,800, the higher price presumably including unlimited shrimp and a photo op with The One) at one of two back-to-back New York events hosted by the (notably lesser) rock star Jon Bon Jovi and a neighbor:
"I hope you guys are up for a fight. I hope you guys are game because I haven’t been putting up with 19 months of airplanes and hotel food and missing my babies and my wife — I didn’t put up for that stuff just to come in second," he said. "I don’t believe in coming in second. The American people can’t afford for us to come in second."
Opponent John McCain, meanwhile, has not been heard to complain about spending nineteen months riding on airplanes and eating hotel food on the campaign trail. Of course, his baseline for comparison is a five-year stay at the Hanoi Hilton and various of its affiliates.
Mr. Bon Jovi, an eminent political philosopher and theologian of international reputation ("We've got to hold on to what we've got / 'Cause it doesn't make a difference if we make it or not"), succinctly explained the difference between The One and Sen. McCain in introducing the former:
“You don’t have to be 72 to have experience,” he said, referring to the age of Mr. McCain. “It’s the end of an era and the beginning of a new one. This 21st century man has an aura of hope wrapped around him.”
Ah, the hopey-changitudinous force field!
But little did The One and his Bon Jovian supporters realize, however, that Gov. Sarah Palin, a/k/a the 21st Century Woman, has figured out how to generate her own hopey-changitudinous force-field — one which incorporates a caribou-hide, a briefing book, and a burp-cloth — except that it's a superior version whose user is not rendered politically impotent, such that she can actually get things done from within it!
Tune in tomorrow for further adventures!
UPDATE (Wed Sep 10 @ 6:30pm): Obama is apparently repeating this complaint widely on the campaign trail, now to high school students in Norfolk, Virginia.
Obama visited a freshman leadership seminar at Granby High School, and a student asked what kind of advice he'd give to them about how they could get to where he is now.
"I'm not sure I'd advise everybody to run for president," Obama said with a smile. "I've been sleeping out of hotel rooms for two years now and I miss my kids."
Color me unsympathetic. This whining is pretty pathetic for someone who wants to be commander-in-chief.
NYT confirms startling detail about Palin child's name!
Yes, indeed, as I had speculated, the NYT has now definitively confirmed that infant Trig's second middle name — he's officially "Trig Paxson Van Palin" — was indeed intended as a pun on the name of the rock group Van Halen and its stars of that same surname, Eddie and Alex. That's some hard-hitting MSM reporting for you!
The world anxiously awaits Van Halen's infringement and take-down notice under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
(Above: Piper Palin smooths her little brother Trig's hair while her mom gives her historic VP acceptance speech at the 2008 Republican National Convention.)
Sunday, September 07, 2008
The McCain-Palin campaign on offense
I love metaphors. I especially like elegant metaphors, which can include sports metaphors.
I'd previously made the point that the Palin choice was definitely not a Hail Mary (which is a desperation play), but I'd characterized it as a long bomb (on first down, from mid-field). So I was interested in this post by Jonah Goldberg on The Corner, in which he reprints a reader email arguing that Gov. Palin's addition to the GOP ticket isn't a single play, but a different sort of "game changer." I think that's right.
Jonah's correspondent suggests that the proper metaphoric term is the "West Coast Offense," which isn't bad. And Alaska does have a fabulous, fabulously long west coast.
But given that Gov. Palin was a high school track competitor (she continues to run regularly) and a life-long hunter, the better and more elegant metaphor is obviously:
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Single most clueless media "attack" on Gov. Palin's credentials
For the same day of the announcement, the Utterly Clueless "I'm a troll who lives inside the Beltway and could not possibly survive for 12 hours if abandoned in any red-state city for 24 hours" Award goes to Jonathan Martin at the Politico (boldface mine):
Palin, 44, is less than two years removed from being mayor of Wasilla, Alaska; has no military or foreign policy experience in a time of grave international threat; and has never even appeared a single time on "Meet the Press," let alone been scrutinized by a voracious and around-the-clock modern media beast.
Because, ya know, Chuck Hagel has been on "Meet the Press" lots of times.
Second-place runner-up "Some of the People All of the Time" awards go to all those who've seriously argued that Barack Obama's comparative lack of political accomplishment is irrelevant because, after all, he's managed to run a successful campaign for the nomination of his party. This point of view envisions America as a kind of perpetual Hell in which Bill Clinton, or whoever can best emulate his slickest and most insincere qualities, forever reigns supreme. The notion that "I can get elected, therefore I deserve more than anyone else to be elected" is profoundly sick.
Monday, July 21, 2008
And the band marched on
On Outside the Beltway, Dr. James Joyner posted today a story (with an embedded video clip that, alas, appears to have already been zapped from YouTube) entitled Army Band Hit By Skydiver, Marches On. It reminded me of an incident that I witnessed in Austin at the Texas/Texas A&M football game during Thanksgiving Weekend in 1974.
I was a high-school senior visiting the UT-Austin campus where I planned to enroll the next year. And I already had my application on file to join the Longhorn Band's trumpet section (following in the footsteps of my older brother), so I was certainly looking forward to the halftime performance of the Showband of the Southwest (not pictured below!).
It was a cold, blustery day, and the portents were grim. A&M entered the game as heavy favorites with only one prior Southwest Conference loss (to SMU) and a high national poll ranking. The Longhorns' season, by contrast, was already a comparative disappointment that included a remarkable loss to Baylor in Waco. Eaking out a tie for second place and spoiling the Aggies' post-season bowl plans was the best we UT fans could hope for. But the Texas/Texas A&M game was, after all, a yearly rivalry that dates back to 1894, the third-longest among NCAA Division 1-A teams. Whatever's happened earlier in the year, neither school ever has any difficulty in gathering up enthusiasm to play the other.
If I recall correctly, the Ags fumbled the opening kickoff and it was returned by UT for a touchdown. The Horns kicked off again, and on the Ags' first or second play from scrimmage, Texas intercepted and ran it back for a TD. Again Texas kicked off, but after another Aggie fumble, their stunned defense managed to hold the Horns to a field goal. Thus was the highly-favored A&M team down by 17-0 less than two minutes into the game. The game went on to be a UT rout, 32 to 3. With the loss, the Aggies' Cotton Bowl plans evaporated, and in fact they went to no bowl game at all that year. (The Horns went on to the Gator Bowl, which but for the lesser bowl prestige, the LHB vastly preferred to yet another trip to Dallas for the Cotton Bowl anyway).
The Aggie Band, however, insists that they have never lost a half-time, no matter what the scoreboard reads. And by some very specific and narrow standards, that's probably true. Although we in the Longhorn Band often kidded and teased the Fightin' Aggie Band, beneath that we held a genuine respect for their great tradition and their marching precision. As to their creativity and their overall musicianship, eh, not so much. But they did the particular things which they prided themselves on doing very well indeed.
In particular, the Aggie Band drills and drills on marching in big, traditional block-band formations — none of this modern stuff with curved lines! Precise six-to-five strides, straight lines, and sharp corners are their stock-in-trade every year. Per a Wikipedia entry:
The Fightin' Texas Aggie Band (also known as The Noble Men of Kyle or the Aggie Band) is the official marching band of Texas A&M University. Composed of over 400 men and women from the school's Corps of Cadets, it is the largest military marching band in the world. The complex straight-line maneuvers, performed exclusively to traditional marches, are so complicated and precise that computer marching simulations say they cannot be performed.
Almost always, the final rank of the Aggie Band is filled with spectacularly polished sterling silver-finished sousaphones (which are basically tubas reshaped by John Phillip Sousa for marching) that gleam in the sunlight. All the members of the Aggie Band make crisp military turns, but the sousaphone players execute two exaggeratedly sharp 90-degree turns during every counter-march: Stomp-WHIRL!-stomp-WHIRL!
The photo above is from the 2007 Texas/Texas A&M game, and I think their uniforms as shown there may have changed substantially since 1974. But this photo gives you some idea of how impressive their merging rows of marching brass can be — especially those sousaphones, which are generally carried by especially beefy young men.
On this ill-fated day for the Aggies in 1974, however, one of their bandsmen — a senior, so identifiable by his beautiful and highly polished riding boots, and by his position on the far west of his rank, closest to the home-field press box — had apparently failed to tighten carefully the set-screws that attached his sousaphone's bell to the rest of the instrument. Or perhaps he had assembled it perfectly, but there was a materials failure in the screws or the flange. In any event, as his rank finished one of the Aggie Band's signature counter-march maneuvers, he snapped off one crisp 90-degree stomp-and-pivot, performed the second stomp, and immediately executed the second whirl — at which moment his instrument's entire bell detached itself from the rest of the tubing that wrapped around his body and was flung violently into the air.
The bell sailed a good ten yards in the air, vivid silver flashing against the green astroturf. It landed on an edge, twirled in a circle, and finally rolled to a rest. The entire Aggie Band continued marching down-field without it. The poor senior remained on that same exposed, trailing corner of the block formation, looking oddly decapitated. The 60,000+ Texas fans rose as one, howling with laughter and pointing. But to the Aggie senior's credit, he kept his composure, pretended nothing had happened, and finished the rest of the performance without a missed turn or any other screw-up.
After the Aggie Band finished in its traditional manner — a mass, screaming charge to the sidelines upon an abrupt cut-off in the "Aggie War Hymn" — that silver sousaphone bell still remained on the field, just outside the near hashmark at about the 20 yard-line. The crowd waited. And waited. Wally Pryor, the Memorial Stadium announcer and the Voice of the Longhorn Band, waited too. The Longhorn Band, as representatives of the home team, was to perform next, but the LHB drum major was not about to lead it onto the field while that silver bell remained. The Aggie Band had put it there; the Aggie Band was going to have to see to its removal, and there weren't going to be any distractions permitted.
Finally, some poor Aggie Band underclassman was dispatched to run out onto the field and retrieve the bell — again to laughs, jeers, and cheers from the hugely amused and highly partisan fans. The competition with the Aggie Band always sharpens up the LHB's own marching, and on this day, they both entered and left the field triumphant.
"Pooo-oooor Ag-gies," the Longhorn crowd sang near the end of the game. I sang along and laughed too, but I certainly empathized more with the poor Aggie sousaphone-playing senior than with the Aggie football players. I hope that guy, whoever he was, went on to a great career and a great life, and that he has a great sense of humor. If, as is likely, he served as an active-duty military officer, I would bet that everyone and everything under his command remained button down and screwed on tightly.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Funniest thing I've heard this month
Fox News reports that lots of blog posters on my-obama-dot-whatever have written there that, based on Obama's policy reversals on such things as FISA telecom immunity, they've been calling his party headquarters demanding refunds of their campaign contributions.
Refunds. From the campaign. Seriously.
(They'd have much better chances calling their telecoms to ask for refunds for something, anything.)
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
There's frankly no telling which Hollywood types might be willing to do a Monica-reprise even today. But Bubba would never, ever pick someone who could, on a whim (or if offended), kick his butt between his ears and beyond. I have no doubt that Gina Gershon could do that, and Bubba would know that too. She's just not remotely his type.
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Webb as Obama's Veep choice?
James Joyner speculates about the possibility that Barack Obama might choose a fellow first-termer, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA), as his running mate. (H/t InstaPundit.) That prospect tickles my funny bone, so I'll republish here (with modifications and additions) a comment I originally left on an Althouse post some time ago:
George Soros' head would instantly explode if Obama picked Jim Webb as his Veep nominee. Are Democratic 527s the main beneficiaries of his estate planning, I wonder?
The thought of Webb and Obama sharing a ticket really makes me giggle. I can envision a joint appearance with Webb getting into gear about the Scots-Irish and their heritage, and how they provided the work ethic which built the United States into the greatest country in the world — all while Michelle Obama silently seethes.
Then Barack Obama would explain that the Second Amendment permits the District of Columbia to ban handguns outright. At that exact moment, Webb would slyly nudge his briefcase, with its Glock and three extra magazines of ammo, further under the table.
Midway through Rev. Wright's closing benediction, I would expect Webb to engage him in a fist-fight.