July 21, 2012

"Tony Robbins event ends in disaster as 21 people are treated for burns after walking on 2,000-degree hot coals."

"Robbins was hosting a four-day gathering called 'Unleash the Power Within.'"

Unleash the stupidity within.
Witnesses say on Thursday, a crowd went to a park where 12 lanes of hot coals were on the grass....

Witness Jonathan Correll says he heard "wails of pain and screams of agony"...

"First one person, then a couple minutes later another one, and there was just a line of people walking on that fire. It was just bizarre, man."
I only have one question: Do you have what it takes to be a regional manager?

And let's go back to 1995:
[I]t should come as no surprise that even President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton invited a trio of self-help gurus to Camp David just before the new year.

Anthony Robbins, the best-selling, self-described "peak performance coach," Marianne Williamson, the prophet of love whose devotees include Oprah Winfrey and Elizabeth Taylor, and Dr. Steven R. Covey, author of one of the most successful books on management ever — "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" — all refuse to divulge the substance of their meeting with the Clintons. Mr. Covey said only that it was "marvelous."
Did the Clintons scamper over hot coals? I agree that would be marvelous.
Pundits quickly speculated about a White House so bereft of ideas it had to seek them in the transcendent. Mrs. Clinton downplayed the meeting, and later complained in a letter to the editor of Esquire, to be published in April, that she was not "tight" with Ms. Williamson, who was merely one of many religious and spiritual advisers invited to meet the Clintons.
Merely one of many purveyors of bullshit that the Clintons consorted with. Noted. Also noted: Steven R. Covey was buried today.

At the Lakefront Café...


... you can talk about whatever you like.

"A Crimson-faced Harvard Alumni Assn. says it regrets allowing [Ted] Kaczynski to use its so-called Red Book to update his profile."

"There, Kaczynski lists his occupation as 'prisoner' and includes the following as among his awards: 'Eight life sentences, issued by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, 1998.' He blithely gave his address as the federal prison in Florence, Colo."

ADDED: I don't see what's blithe or even inappropriate about this. It's grimly factual. Harvard should not censor the flow of information about its alumni. Take responsibility for it all. 

"Norway is today more imbued with democracy and diversity than it was on July 22, 2011..."

Said Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg.
Democracy is "the most important weapon in the fight against violence," he added.

A suggestion for those of you who are tempted to devote time to understanding the psyche of the Aurora massacre madman.

Contemplate the psyche of someone you know and can speak to and relate to in your immediate life.

What if you had known James Eagen Holmes, and you could have interacted with him at a time when you were, in fact, preoccupied reading on-line articles about Anders Behring Breivik, or if you had known Anders Behring Breivik, and you might have spoken with him, reasoned with him, but you were distracted by some intriguing articles about Jared Loughner....

Are you really interested in psychology?

"I think they knew they messed with the wrong girl."

"... Priscilla Dang was jogging in her Vancouver neighborhood last Friday when she was approached by two teenagers on their bikes. One pulled in front of her as the other groped her from behind...."

An interesting contrast to Liz Gorman, who was also groped by a passing bicyclist. She got a column in the Washington Post written about her:
Liz Gorman did what the others didn’t.

After she was sexually assaulted on a D.C. street in the middle of the day, she not only called police, she also wrote a blog post about the way she was violated. The response was incredible....
Priscilla Dang did not blog about it.

"Both as Wayne and as super-Wayne he seems indifferent, as the films themselves are, to the activities of little people..."

"... and to the claims of the everyday, preferring to semi-purse his lips, as if preparing to whistle for an errant dog, and stare pensively into the distance. Caped or uncaped, the guy is a bore. He should have kids; that would pull him out of himself. Or else he should hang out with Iron Man and get wasted. He should have fun."

"Batman's Bane," by Anthony Lane. (No Aurora massacre content.)

That link is worth clicking on just to get to the cartoon — a guy in a bar looking into his highball glass says: "I don't know anything about global warming, but these ice cubes are melting like crazy."

By the way, I read a plot summary of "The Dark Knight Rises," because I'm not going to see it — I rarely go to the movies anymore and I experienced the last Batman movie an unpleasant chore (not out of fear of massacre) — and because I wanted to understand the connection to "Occupy Wall Street" politics. Anthony Lane pooh-poohs the connection:
True, we see a handful of rich white men being ejected from fancy apartments, but then the film coughs politely and moves on, as if recalling that nobody is richer or whiter than Bruce Wayne, and that his apartment is, in fact, a castle. Also, the outcome is positively Victorian, in that its dread of disorder far outweighs its relish of liberty uncaged; the throng is faced down and tamed by ranks of growling police officers.
Lane fails to contemplate the possibility that the movie is against the Occupy side. Here's Rush Limbaugh working that theme — Batman is Romney! Batman/Romney is "the rich guy, milquetoast, boring, dull," but if he "puts the uniform back on," he "saves the day."
In fact, the producer -- or the creator, Chuck Dixon -- says that the villain in this movie is almost... I forget his exact words, but he links the villain in this movie to Occupy Wall Street. And yet the Democrats are out there trying to say Bane is Bain. I think this exposes the frailty of their position.
So, as I said, I read the plot summary. It looks incredibly dull and over-complicated when distilled into forthright sentences, but it was all quite meaningless to me. If the film says anything about politics, I'm not going to be the one to figure out what.


That's not meant to say anything about the murders, which I don't think should be inflated with political imagination. Let's resist the temptation to say things that might entice delusional people to make the decision to act out. You could suddenly one day be the most famous person on earth, whose face everyone will gaze upon, whose mind everyone will contemplate. You could make the presidential candidates suspend their campaigns and command everyone to pray and pray over the dramatic changes you have made in their puny little world. Let's resist the temptation to create that temptation.

"Mr. Wizard's a Dick."

Here's an interview with the compilers of "Mr. Wizard's a Dick," Mike Schuster and Diane Bullock:
This idea was about 25 years in the making. We both watched the show as kids, but I was a bit more obsessed. I would watch it religiously before school and had running jokes with my parents about how casually cruel and condescending Mr. Wizard could be to the kids.

About a year ago, Diane and I started re-watching the old episodes and would die laughing at some of the things he would say and do... be it a snarky tone or how he'd just cut off a kid's answer even if they were on the right track....

"The prairie vole is a notable animal model for its monogamous sexual fidelity, since the male is usually faithful to the female, and shares in the raising of pups."

"Another species from the same genus, the meadow vole, has promiscuously mating males, and scientists have changed adult male meadow voles' behavior to resemble that of prairie voles in experiments in which a single gene was introduced into the brain via a virus."

Okay, mad scientists and sensible-policy imaginationists, spin out your proposals and fantasies. Give me some long views of the landscape.

"No one pretends that better laws would prevent all tragedies, but if that were the standard, then we wouldn't pass any laws at all."

On NPR last evening, the topic was the Aurora movie-theater murders, and the NPR host, Robert Siegel, invited WaPo's E.J. Dionne to comment on "mass shootings, guns and politics." Siegel quoted something Dionne had written, that events like this cause "our whole public reasoning process [to go] haywire." That is, other people go crazy and can't think straight, so let's check out the quality of Dionne's thinking.
What I mean by that is that the NRA and the rest of the gun lobby have such a firm hold on our political system that no one can bring up the notion, which we bring up with every other kind of tragedy, that maybe we can do better. Maybe there are laws we could pass that would prevent something like this.

No one pretends that better laws would prevent all tragedies, but if that were the standard, then we wouldn't pass any laws at all. We have the most permissive gun laws pretty much in the industrialized world. And I hope, but I have no confidence, that we won't make the same mistake again.

I'd like to think that one time, we could say: Oh, let's open this up. Let's talk about the assault weapons ban. Let's talk about ways in which we might reduce the chances that someone with mental problems might get a gun. And I'm just worried that we're going to revert right back to our usual sort of giving and saying, well, the gun lobby controls Washington, so we can never do anything about things like this.
Maybe we can do better.... laws can't solve everything... but if that were the standard, then we wouldn't pass any laws at all... so... so, what? Since we do sometimes pass laws, we must think that laws can sometimes help when there's a problem. And there's a problem, so... so... what?  Let's open this up. Let's talk about it.  E.J. Dionne is afraid we'll just knee-jerk do nothing, instead of knee-jerk propose gun control... I mean think and think with thoughtful contemplation and talk about and around and through and through and arrive at the solution that immediately popped into E.J. Dionne's mind.

I'm fascinated by this notion that we do sometimes pass laws and therefore that means that we should pass laws. The resistance to passing laws is some nasty dysfunction caused by a nefarious interest group — here, the NRA — but good people want to do something. This do something orientation is characteristic of the modern liberal mind. I heard Dionne saying that on the radio yesterday evening, but it came back to me as I was reading about rabies and marveling at the crazy — desperate — ideas for a cure: "you burn a hair from the dog that bit you and insert the ashes into the wound... [a] maggot from a dead dog's body... a linen cloth soaked with menstrual blood of a female dog... [c]hicken excrement, 'if it is of a red color'... [a]shes from the tail of a shrew-mouse...."

When is it that reasoning goes haywire? After Dionne presented his patchwork of liberal logic, the host called upon David Brooks. (Don't say NPR doesn't balance liberals and conservatives!) He said...
Well, I'm no fan of the NRA, I'm not really an opponent of gun control or an assault weapon ban...
That sounds like a necessary preface for the NPR listeners, but I'm going to give Brooks credit for subtly deactivating the bogeyman Dionne inserted into his call to action, because Brooks continues with:
... but, you know, public policy is based on evidence and data and whether it would work. 
Brooks is displaying the pin with which he is about to puncture the liberal's inflated self-image.
This is one of the most studied things in criminology. And the weight of the evidence is pretty clear that there's no relationship between gun control and violent crime. Areas with higher gun control do not have less violent crime. Over the last few years, the number of new guns entering the country has been about four million a year. 
So you've got to look at evidence, not your instinctive notions about what just might work. Put down that shrew mouse's tail now, E.J.
At the same time, violent crime has plummeted by about 41 percent a year.
Brooks's "evidence and data" dump seemed really powerful until he got to that implausible percentage. What is it, 41% a decade, I don't know what to make of this point-counterpoint style radio presentation. There are no links to click on, so I'm just forced to be suspicious of Brooks's I've-got-the-facts posturing. [ADDED: Meade suggests that the percentage of decline has increased by 41% a year.]

Brooks concludes:
So I'm not necessarily opposed to the policy, I don't really think it would matter in violent crime generally, and I really don't think it would matter too much in the case of lunatics or whatever who are committed to this sort of pre-planned massacre.
So Brooks retreats to reassuring the NPR audience: He's not opposed to gun control, he just doesn't think it would work.  He began with the assertion that "public policy is based on evidence and data and whether it would work," explained why he didn't think it would work, but nevertheless won't oppose the policy. Brooks isn't a conservative by my standard. I think to be conservative, you should have the instinctive orientation: do nothing. You have to convince us what you've got there is better than nothing. And what have you got there? A bucket of red chickenshit? A dog's tampon?!!

Now, how will the very very thoughtful E.J. Dionne deal with Brooks's argument from evidence! and data! He's got to demonstrate that he's one of the smart people, the non-haywire people, your betters who proposed open and thorough debate about solutions to problems (after the bogeymen are kicked out of the room):
DIONNE: If we had better background checks, yes we'll miss some lunatics, but with real background checks, we could reduce the number of lunatics who get guns. And there's also a spillover. If you have permissive laws in one state - as Mayor Bloomberg has shown, Mayor Bloomberg of New York, who has proposed a lot of very practical remedies, not sweeping remedies but practical remedies - he's shown how loose laws in one state can send guns into a state that may have stricter laws. So I don't think we should throw up our hands and say it's impossible...

BROOKS: Yeah, one area of agreement, I do think people who have history of mental health issues, and this came up with the Loughner case, that...

SIEGEL: The shooting of Gabby Giffords...

BROOKS: That should show up when you're trying to buy a gun. And legally, that's supposed to happen, but it doesn't always happen.

SIEGEL: We don't know all that much about the suspect. So far no indication that any such record would have shown up. We just don't know yet.

DIONNE: Right, and my argument is not that you can prevent every one of these things, but when I heard this this morning, like everybody else, I was, you know, sick about it. And I just thought that every time this happens, people say, well, there are very particular factors in this case, so let's not talk about gun control, gun control wouldn't solve it. Well, maybe it would, or maybe it wouldn't in a particular case, but it would prevent some of these things in the future.
And there you have it, the liberal mind at work, in real time.

"The first symptom is... this tingling sensation at the site of the wound."

"Like, you didn't have it before, all that time that rabies was crawling up to the brain. Usually the wound has even healed at this point. But once your brain is infected, you'll often start to feel something odd at the site: a tingling, an itch, a stabbing pain. It sounds almost supernatural, but apparently it's true."

Rabies. Much more at the link, including the origin of the phrase "the hair of the dog."
Pliny the Elder... suggested that you burn a hair from the dog that bit you and insert the ashes into the wound... But he also rattled off this mindblowing series of other possible remedies. A maggot from a dead dog's body, or a linen cloth soaked with menstrual blood of a female dog. Chicken excrement, "if it is of a red color." Ashes from the tail of a shrew-mouse!
Something strong is needed. What do we have around here that's strong? (Reminds me of the way some people today think about politics!)

Here's the book: "Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus." I just bought it myself.

July 20, 2012


Despite the drought in southern Wisconsin, there's been plenty of rainfall up north, and, as a consequence, the waterfalls are looking quite beautiful.

2 of the falls mentioned in the article are places we visited a couple summers ago — Copper Falls and Morgan Falls.


The "Dull Men's Club."

"Dull-men's groups—and the sentiment behind them—have been around for some time."
No topic is too small or large. ...

"I have a question," piped up Scott MacInness, a 75-year-old retired machinist. "We have a person living up near where I am who apparently isn't carrying a full sea bag. How do we get this person to stop throwing all their trash in the recycling tub?"

Suggestions ranged from "stand out there sometime" to "get inside the thing and when he opens it, go 'aha!' "

Mr. MacInness hopped up to refill his coffee.

"Can I ask you a question?" another man shouted to him. "Why do you carry a spoon?"

Mr. MacInness tapped his pocket and confirmed that he does indeed faithfully carry a spoon. "Because you can't stir a cup of coffee with that little brown plastic straw! It will not make the sugar mix!"

"What the hell you need sugar for?" shouted another member, igniting a conversation about the taste of black coffee.

"Colorado theater shooting suspect was neuroscience Ph.D student."

At the University of Colorado-Denver.
[James] Holmes is suspected of walking into an Aurora theater's midnight showing of "Dark Knight Rises" wearing a gas mask and bullet proof vest and shooting at least 54 people. Twelve are reported dead.
There's a photo of the 24-year-old man at the link. He looks ordinary. Smirking... but it's the kind of smirk I associate with the character Jim on "The Office."

ADDED: Breitbart reports:
According to New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, James Holmes, 24, the alleged perpetrator of the mass murder at the Aurora, Colorado theater showing of The Dark Knight Rises, claimed he was “The Joker” during the shooting. “We have some information, most of it is public,” said Kelly. “It clearly looks like a deranged individual. He had his hair painted red, he said he was ‘The Joker,’ obviously the ‘enemy’ of Batman.”...

Health Ledger’s portrayal of Batman arch-nemesis The Joker in the last installment of the Batman saga, The Dark Knight, won him a posthumous Oscar. The Joker was focused in that film on destroying Gotham City through chaos and mass murder; he also rigged buildings with booby traps in order to achieve that end.

"Nothing in the world will allow me to become a Sheng Nu."

The term refers to  "all single woman above the age of 27" and means "unwanted."
"Men don't want a woman over 30. It's important for them that she's still pretty."
I thought there was a shortage of women in China. Why the strict standards?

"A gunman wearing a gas mask set off an unknown gas and fired into a crowded movie theater... a midnight opening of... 'The Dark Knight Rises'..."

"... killing 14 people and injuring at least 50 others...."
Moviegoers didn't know what was happening and some thought the attack was part of the show. Then they saw a silhouette of a person in the smoke at the front of the theater near the screen, pointing a gun at the crowd....

[An audience member said] it sounded like firecrackers until someone ran into Theater 8 yelling "they're shooting out here!"...

"Like little explosions going on and shortly after that we heard people screaming," [said another, noting that] at first he thought it was part of a louder movie next door. But then he saw "people hunched over leaving theater."
Horrible. I'm not surprised people imagined it was part of the show, since I've seen theme-park shows that begin as a movie and become stage shows with actors in a plot about how something is terribly wrong in the the theater. (I'm remembering the old "Ghostbusters Spooktacular Show" at Universal Studios).

ADDED: When things like this happen, decent people refrain from spinning out theories about why the killer — who presumably has deranged thought patterns — did what he did. Appropriating this event for political purposes is shameful, but it is happening. I'm not even going to link to the places where this is happening. I have some ideas of my own, but I'm choosing not to put them on the internet. For one thing, it's disrespectful to the individuals who died, but also, the likelihood of getting it wrong is high, as we saw after the Oklahoma City bombing and the Tucson massacre.

"What sexbots will do is widen the already growing chasm between the sexes, until only the fittest of the fit... can successfully leap across it to woo a human companion in the way that our genetic overlord intended."

Writes Heartiste, noting that "fitness is whatever gets one’s genes to the next generation, whether beneficial to civilization or note." I got there via Instapundit, who got there via Helen Smith, who makes the present-day observation that "20% of the alpha males [get] about 80% of the women" and says:
Those men who have more trouble getting women turn to porn and seem to ignore or be oblivious to women. I wonder how Sexbots will further change the landscape?
Here's my long-term view of that landscape. As men get absorbed into virtual-reality sex, there will be sex machines for women, replete with the elaborate stories women find titillating (including many things that are too dangerous to pursue in real life about which they currently read voraciously). The women, further relieved of motivation to form loving partnerships with men, will turn more and more to the government for support. Witness "The Life of Julia." There will be more and more of that as men depart from real life and submerge themselves more deeply in machines and women consequently feel more entitled to the government's functioning in the role from which men have escaped.

Women have the voting majority, and what will stop us from employing it in the interest of women as men demonstrate their lack of interest in us?

Will women still want to raise children? Some will, especially when it is well incentivized with government support brought about by unstoppable female voting power. We will have our choice of prime semen for artificial insemination. I'm sure the government will provide us with free services and facilitate our selection of the genetic traits we think will make the best children. Who knows what the next generations will be, as mothers produce children not because they found love from a man, but because of their ideas — possibly delusional — about what would make an excellent child? That's a new experiment. Presumably, in a world where men absent themselves from the real-world life of love and relationships, these women will choose, overwhelmingly, to have daughters. Those daughters will grow up and become part of the Electorate of Julias, further depressing any political power for men.

As this process goes on, perhaps that 20%/80% split Dr. Helen observes will be the actual ratio of men to women. But those men will not be alpha men. They won't even be beta men. And the men in the women's sex machines will be The New Alpha+++ Men. There will be no way to go back.

But this can only happen in America and whatever other free, wealthy, technologically advanced democracies there may be. So don't worry. It won't last that long.

Whatever happened to the "Super-O-Rama"?

Announced and made fun of on May 16th, but I can't find any subsequent talk of it. Presumably, the mockery killed the name, but names are important in the world of internet searching.

Take the actively viral "you didn't build that" meme and cross-pollinate it with the slightly dimmed "Julia" meme and breed a vigorous new small-government/individual responsibility conservatism...

Charles Krauthammer, hammering "you didn't build it":
Obama’s infrastructure argument is easily refuted by what is essentially a controlled social experiment. Roads and schools are the constant. What’s variable is the energy, enterprise, risk-taking, hard work and genius of the individual. It is therefore precisely those individual characteristics, not the communal utilities, that account for the different outcomes.
A similar point was made very well by rhhardin in the comments on this blog, back on July 15th, the first day we talked about "you didn't build it":
You're paid for knowing what to do.

That's just as competitive with or without bridges. You have to guess well or you fail.

Take away the reward for knowing what to do, and there's less of it happening, as we see today.

Infrastructure raises the general standard of living, but not need for guessing right. Guessing right is what the private market does, bridges or no bridges.

Government guesses wrong, and wipes out the economy entirely.
Later rh added:
A chaplin was captive in a German prisoner of war camp.

Every month or so red cross packages arrived, with cigarettes, meat, jam, and so forth.

Every month the chaplin would set off trading stuff, letting meat lovers trade cigarettes for more meat and so forth.

Every month he'd return to his bed with the equivalent of two red cross packages, a gain from trading.

Everybody he traded with is better off, and yet he comes out with a profit.

What he knows is the barter price of things, who to go to next, and so forth, to enable all the trades to happen.

Should he turn in a portion of his profit because he couldn't have done it without the red cross?

Why? Everybody is better off already owing to his efforts.
Krauthammer goes on to say that conservatives as well as liberals support infrastructure. (I note that we disagree about some infrastructure, notably high-speed rail.) The real divergence is over things like "transfer payments and redistributionist taxation, about geometrically expanding entitlements, about tax breaks and subsidies to induce actions pleasing to central planners... free contraceptives for privileged students and welfare without work... endless government handouts...." Here, Krauthammer reminds us of the notorious "Julia" cartoon.
Julia’s world is totally atomized. It contains no friends, no community and, of course, no spouse. Who needs one? She’s married to the provider state.

Or to put it slightly differently, the “Life of Julia” represents the paradigmatic Obama political philosophy: citizen as orphan child. For the conservative, providing for every need is the duty that government owes to actual orphan children. Not to supposedly autonomous adults.
If the Romney campaign can take the actively viral "you didn't build that" meme and cross-pollinate it with the slightly dimmed "Julia" meme and breed a vigorous new small-government/individual responsibility conservatism...

"So what, for instance, might something like a Yodaville National Park, or Urban Target Complex National Monument, look like?"

"How would it be managed, touristed, explored, mapped, and understood? What sorts of trails and interpretive centers might it host? Alternatively, in much the same way that the Unabomber's cabin is currently on display at the Newseum in Washington D.C., could Yodaville somehow, someday, become part of a distributed collection of sites owned and operated by the Smithsonian, the National Building Museum, or, for that matter, UNESCO, in the latter case with Arizona's simulated battlegrounds joining Greek temples as world heritage sites?"


Motivated by "the absurdity" of the TSA trying to see him naked via machine, John E. Brennan got real-flesh naked... and arrested... and prosecuted.

And acquitted... by an Oregon state judge:
Citing a 1985 state appeals court ruling stating that nudity laws don't apply in cases of protest, [Multnomah County judge David] Rees said, "It is the speech itself that the state is seeking to punish, and that it cannot do...."

Brennan said he knew he wasn't breaking the law when he dropped trou partly from his experience riding in Rose City's annual Naked Bike Ride, during which Portland cops traditionally look the other way....

"The irony that they want to see me naked, but I don't get to take off my clothes off. You have all these machines that pretend to do it."
From a legal standpoint, I have a few questions. Is Rees saying that the state only prosecuted him because he was expressing an opinion via nakedness or that a consistently applied anti-nakedness law must have an exception for people who want to use nakedness as a way of expressing an opinion? Also, if a city allows one naked protest, does that mean — under Oregon law — that people can take their clothes off anywhere — in Oregon — as long as they're trying to say something via nakedness?

Here's some more detail about nudity in Portland, which might like a reputation as the "Naked City."
In recent years, Portland police have taken a reserved approach when they encounter residents in the nude. They receive 9-1-1 calls about naked people in public "off and on" and especially in the summer, said Sgt. Pete Simpson. Police will use nudity laws to pursue charges against people caught urinating or defecating in public, or having sex in cars, on lawns or in full view of others.

But how about those who are naked for the sheer sake of being naked? "We don't necessarily encourage people to be naked in public, but generally speaking ...being nude in public is not enough to go to jail," Simpson said. "You've got to be doing something more."

Case-in-point, each year officers look the other way when thousands fill the streets for the World Naked Bike Ride, he said, "because of the sheer number of naked people."
Pick a policy and be consistent. I remember the time last year when I was down at the Capitol Square here in Madison, checking out another anti-Scott-Walker protest, talking to a man on the street, and the naked bike riders suddenly appeared:

"That's America! That's America! That's the freedom!"

(That video of mine includes a racial analysis of the naked bikers and — if you watch to the end — an Ayn Rand point of view.)

July 19, 2012

On individualism, collectivism, Barack Obama, Elizabeth Warren, George Orwell, Rudyard Kipling, Sir Isaac Newton, and Dee Dee Ramone.

Conservatives are fond of the quote "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." It's attributed in that form to George Orwell, though apparently the closest he got to saying it was:
"[Rudyard Kipling] sees clearly that men can only be highly civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to guard and feed them."
I want to compare that to Obama's notorious "you didn't build that quote" and Elizabeth Warren's "you didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory."

I know Obama's quote is (hilariously) defective in its failure to give any significance to the work a business owner has put into his own business, but the reason Obama's quote is important that it's not merely an obviously incorrect overstatement, but that it reveals his frame of mind in putting the efforts of the collective people over the work of the individual.

But Obama opponents, in their eagerness to exploit that quote, are forgetting about the ways in which conservatives like to call attention to the dependency of the individual upon the collective.

Another old quote I thought of is "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants" (which was originally written by Sir Isaac Newton).

There is a core idea here that is shared by conservatives and liberals (and anybody else who isn't delusional).

CNN puts blurry dots covering the breasts of a woman in a Matisse painting.

The clip is hilarious.

At 0:47, they cut to a voluptuous newswoman in a tight, low-cut shirt. It would have been cool if they'd put blurry dots over her breasts too.

(Thanks to my son Chris for IMing me about that. He says the effect was much more noticeable and ridiculous on HDTV, where he saw it.)

ADDED: Perhaps, like me, you thought of Attorney General John Ashcroft and the $8,000 drapery.

New Obama ad criticizes Romney for saying that Obama said "If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen"

This is a ballsy move:

Obviously, Obama said those words, and Romney supporters have seized upon those words. Rush Limbaugh has been playing and replaying that line. Charles Krauthammer said: "I think Obama has made the gaffe of the year when he said if you created a business, you didn't build it. That phrase, 'you didn't build it' should be hung around Obama until the end of his presidency."

And now, here comes the Obama campaign not only running Obama's self-damaging words but showing Romney repeating them with a critical edge. This takes nerve... nerve or genuine, outright fear that Obama's garbled statement will be used to destroy him. They must confront it and take some of the edge off it. And maybe they've decided they shouldn't worry about breathing more life into it. It's alive and on the loose and they need to give chase.

"It sends the wrong message to distraught farmers when the Agriculture Secretary suggests that the best response is to pray."

"For a Cabinet official to recommend prayer as a solution or call attention to his own devotions may violate the Constitution’s prohibition against establishment of religion. Most important, though, is that prayer doesn’t work. But if you want to test the power of prayer yourself, consider this. Apparently Secretary Vilsack’s been praying for rain every day; how’s that working out?"

Says the Council for Secular Humanism. They're wrong about the Establishment Clause, and I think the phrase "may violate" indicates that they know it. But they do have a point about government officials talking about prayer... or is that nothing more than the same point you could make about anybody praying? All that praying for things that don't happen generates evidence that prayer doesn't work.

Michele Bachmann vs. Huma Abedin.

This is a weird story, which I first noticed in the context of Ed Rollins and John McCain denouncing the accusations as ugly and unsubstantiated. It wasn't anything to me until I heard them saying it's nothing. Now, I need to search to figure out what it was that drove Michele Bachmann (and 4 other Congresscreatures) to say Abedin is part of some Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the federal government.
They pointed the finger first at Abedin, who is deputy chief of staff to Secretary Clinton and has been one of her closest aides for nearly two decades. Abedin, who was born in the U.S. and is of Pakistani descent, has been described by both Hillary and former President Bill Clinton as a daughter.

But Bachmann and the others wrote, "Huma Abedin has three family members -- her late father, her mother and her brother -- connected to Muslim Brotherhood operatives and/or organizations."...

In a statement, Bachmann did not back down, saying she would "not be silent as this administration appeases our enemies" and saying she wants a full investigation into the Muslim Brotherhood.
Bachmann's antagonists have long been portrayed her as crazy, but this seems crazy.

At the Parakeet Café...

... just whistle.

Piers Morgan interviews Justice Scalia, the expert on text, who catches some adverbs and misses some adjectives.

From the transcript:
MORGAN: You are a man that believes fundamentally that the law in America should be based rigidly on the letter of the Constitution. That's what you believe, isn't it, fundamentally?

SCALIA: Yes, give or take a little. Rigidly I would not say. But it should be based on the text of the Constitution, reasonably interpreted....

MORGAN: Why were you so violently opposed to [Roe v. Wade]?

SCALIA: I -- I wouldn't say violently. I'm a peaceful man.
Don't think you can slip those adverbs in on Scalia!
SCALIA: You mean adamantly opposed.

MORGAN: Adamantly.

SCALIA: Adamantly.
He'll provide his own adverbs. He does his judging adamantly and reasonably. Not rigidly and violently!

"Composite?"/"Compost heap's more like it."

We were watching "A Face in the Crowd" last night. TMC was making a night of Andy Griffith films, and I settled in to watch the Elia Kazan movie that I'd heard about but never seen. I've only watched the first half, partly because I usually watch movies in 2 parts — I have a 1-hour attention span — and partly because it started annoying me — too many absurd leaps forward in the story as our forgotten man "Lonesome" Rhodes becomes a media sensation by cutting through the bullshit and sexing up the ladies. That is, he rejects the bullshit of the sexless men who surround him and spins out his own sort of bullshit, e.g., promoting the inert pill "Vitajex" as some proto-Viagra.

Anyway, I wrote down something that reminded me of Obama. No, not his special appeal for women. It was this passage of dialogue:
Marcia Jeffries: You always drink like that?
Lonesome Rhodes: Not always. Back in Riddle they was pretty strict. Didn't allow us to touch hard liquor till we was 10 or 11.
Marcia Jeffries: Now is there really a town called Riddle?
Lonesome Rhodes: Well, tell you the flat truth, it's just a sort of a whatchacallit, a...
Marcia Jeffries: ... Composite?
Lonesome Rhodes: Compost heap's more like it. 
Composite!  Marcia Jeffries, the woman who discovers him for her radio show called "A Face in the Crowd" offers him the word "composite" to dignify his bullshit, and he does a little word play that rejects euphemism.

Obama's use of "composites" is well-discussed in the David Maraniss biography:

Sound bite of the George Zimmerman interview: "I feel it was all God's plan..."

I watched the entire interview Zimmerman did with Hannity, and I thought he made an excellent impression, but looking at the news coverage now, I can see that what was plucked out for quotation in headlines was the "God's plan" line. Even though Zimmerman seemed somber and sincere and truly sorry that Trayvon Martin died — he apologizes and shows empathy to Martin's parents repeatedly — that one phrase makes it sound like he thinks God wanted Martin dead. Here's the "God" quote in context:

Let's look at the latest Romney and Obama ads.

I like Romney's riff on Obama's "you didn't build that" gaffe/revelation (via Instapundit):

And then there's this from Obama and Biden, who bill themselves (at the end) as "The Truth Team":

This is an odd ad, using a kind of "Jaywalking" technique of asking people on the street what something means, which allows them to throw out a lot of statements that "The Truth Team" doesn't have to get behind. Then there's a scroll of text that the viewer assumes supports the insinuation conveyed by the guesses from the people in the interviews. The phrase the people were asked to define is "retroactively retired," which the Romney campaign has used to explain Romney's exit from Bain Capital. The ad says to the viewers: There's something confusing and fishy here, and we know it means that Romney's ashamed of what his company did, which must be really bad or he wouldn't be trying to dance out of it, and we've got the facts, in case anybody wants to check, but you can trust us, we're The Truth Team.

July 18, 2012

Why Romney deleted the line "He's a nice guy."

It was a stock line, but it meant something, and it's not something Romney wants to say anymore.
"[Romney] has said Obama's a nice fellow, he's just in over his head," [one campaign] adviser said. "But I think the governor himself believes this latest round of attacks that have impugned his integrity and accused him of being a felon go so far beyond that pale that he's really disappointed. He believes it's time to vet the president. He really hasn't been vetted; McCain didn't do it."

Indeed, facing what the candidate and his aides believe to be a series of surprisingly ruthless, unfounded, and unfair attacks from the Obama campaign on Romney's finances and business record, the Republican's campaign is now prepared to go eye for an eye in an intense, no-holds-barred act of political reprisal, said two Romney advisers who spoke on condition of anonymity. In the next chapter of Boston's pushback — which began last week when they began labeling Obama a "liar" — very little will be off-limits, from the president's youthful drug habit, to his ties to disgraced Chicago politicians.

"4 Pinocchios for an unproven Romney claim of 'crony capitalism.'"

It's the WaPo Fact Checker (which, we remember, just gave Obama 3 Pinocchios for suggesting Romney is a criminal.)

"Five Men Agree To Stand Directly Under An Exploding Nuclear Bomb."

"It happened! The mounds are vibrating. It is tremendous! Directly above our heads! Aaah! A perfect shot!... It's a very odd cloud... I've never quite seen a cloud like this from atomic detonation... It was just beautiful."

Should Wisconsin embrace the Chicago-Milwaukee megacity?

Or should it compete with Chicago, luring Chicago businesses to relocate here?
The ["Milwaukee's Future in the Chicago Mega City" conference] was prompted in part by a report issued by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a global economic think tank based in Paris. The 332-page report issued in March advocated closer ties within the Chicago-Milwaukee economy, and declared the region "is at a tipping point."...

The OECD found that the Chicago-Milwaukee region is politically splintered despite common industries, highways and shoreline. Among the most pernicious practices that split the region, the OECD found, is Wisconsin's practice of poaching companies....

In March, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch boasted that she got in the game early. "Right after I was elected I started making cold calls down to Illinois," Kleefisch said in a radio interview.

"If you’re married to a very wealthy billionaire should you be revealing her tax returns?"

"I don’t recall that happening with the Kerry campaign."

Said John McCain, defending Romney and irked that something he said yesterday was used against Romney.

Note: Kerry lost. Would he have done better if he'd disclosed his wife's tax returns?

Pelosi: "I’m not encouraging anyone to go to the convention..."

"... I think they should stay home, campaign in their districts, use their financial and political resources to help them win their election."
We nominated a president last time. We have an incumbent President of the United States. We’re very proud of him. There certainly will be enough people there to express that pride, but I’m not encouraging members to go to the convention no matter what the situation was, because they can be home. It’s campaign time. It’s the first week in September...
Express that pride.... or not.

She's hoping negative inferences won't be draw from failure to attend the convention. It is a big waste of time and money. Especially if people don't watch it on TV.

Myself, I watch. I watch to blog. Will you watch (either convention)?

The misspoken line that will haunt Obama: "You didn't build that."

He was trying to make the same point that Elizabeth Warren made a while back — that anyone who is successful in American is successful in part because of the work of others — building roads, providing a stable system of law and order, educating the people hired to work, etc. etc. At the core, we have a banal truth that everyone can agree with. But there are differences in emphasis and outright misstatement that can pop up and look horrible taken out of context.

Here's how Warren put it:
You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
Now, that was really well put, a plain spoken statement of the truth, with a passionate edge that spins some listeners toward the idea of higher taxes for the rich and irritates the hell out of those who hear the power of these words and can't point to any actual misstatement.

And then there's Obama:
If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The boldface part is a blunder. He couldn't have meant to say that, and he must be really sorry he did. He's got the core idea there: You got some help. Then, in the blunder, he needed a few more words: If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that alone. Somebody else must have helped you make that happen. Anyone who likes Obama can say, in context, you can tell these additional words are implied. Someone more neutral — me, perhaps! — would say, obviously those additional words were intended, but it was nevertheless revealing that he let it slip out in that form. We learn something about his orientation toward business, government, individual achievement, and the collective, and we should pay attention to that. And anyone who opposes Obama is going to nail him with these words, using them for humorous effect over and over again.

A Google search for "'you didn't build that' obama" turns up 485,000 results. An image search turns up many visual jokes.

Here's a useful website that somebody built didn't build.

How much taxpayer money is being spent moving Wisconsin state senators' offices around after the recall election?

Although Governor Scott Walker won his recall election, one state senate seat shifted from Republican to Democrat, and that created a Democratic majority, which triggered massive office moves in the Capitol building. Although it's summer vacation time and the majority is likely to shift back to the Republicans after the November elections, "it appears roughly one-third of the 33 senators are going to move to different offices."
There’s the cost of moving phone lines, which the last time I wrote an article about this topic cost the state $41 an hour, plus the cost to re-letter office doors and change the locks on the doors....

How does the Romney ad using video of her make Hillary Clinton feel?

Always with the feelings. Hillary Clinton — though being a woman — chooses not to talk about feelings. She goes straight for the spin: "Well, you know, I am out of politics. I haven't seen any of the ads that you're talking about. But I have to say it's a waste of money. Everybody knows I ran against President Obama in 2008, that's hardly news. Everybody knows we ran a hard fought campaign and he won. And I have been honored to serve as his Secretary of State...."

Least believable statement:
pollcode.com free polls 

Panthers Stadium/Bank of America Stadium.

Pick a name for the place where Obama will speak during the Democratic National Convention.

IN THE COMMENTS: Beta Rube said:
I think they should call it the "You Didn't Build This Stadium" stadium. 

"By pushing through the higher requirement for strike authorization — and adding some combative rhetoric," Rahm Emanuel "energized the Chicago Teachers Union and strengthened them."

"We’ve all wondered how you would pay for a longer school day. But a surprise to me was the fact finder coming out for huge raises."
Although Emanuel fashions himself as a master strategist who out-foxes opponents, [publisher Linda] Lenz noted that working with schools is “new to the mayor” and he’s “made some miscalculations, perhaps out of not knowing the lay of the land” at Chicago Public Schools.

“Everybody had complained we had too short a day. Pushing for a longer day certainly made sense. But, there seems to have been a failure to calculate what it would take to get that done — both in terms of resources and grass-roots support from the community and from teachers,” Lenz said.
Rahm doesn't know that lay of the land in Chicago? Chicago is tough. The Teachers Union showing its muscle? How's that going to work out? Sorry, I'm over here in Wisconsin.

Dane County judge finds Wisconsin's voter ID law violates the state constitution.

This is the second case finding the law violates the state constitution. Dane County is the location of Madison, and the case will almost certainly be appealed to the state supreme court. In the meantime, the rest of Wisconsin has another opportunity to notice Dane County/Madison and feel aversion/affection/apathy.

Don't you love Front Row Amy?

You've seen her if you watch Milwaukee Brewers games.
She says she loves the Brewers and swears she never set out to be noticed....

Last month, a guy dressed like Amy with a black wig, stuffed-in breasts and cleavage lines painted on his chest sat in her seat at one of the games she skipped....

This is the second year Amy has owned this single seat for the entire 81-game home season (a $5,670 expense). She doesn't know most of the people sitting around her and rarely interacts with them. She's not at the game to chat. Her focus is on the field...
The Brewers organization is well aware of her but has not orchestrated her rise to popularity. As far as I can tell, Amy is not a Go Daddy girl or any other corporate creation....

Be careful when attaching your resume to that job-application email.

Don't do this.

Unless you want to be the viral-web celeb du jour.
"The employer got back to me hours later with a short, ‘I’m sorry Vanessa, I don’t see your resume, only a picture of Nic Cage looking terrifying. The position has been filled out, but thanks for being interested'..."

Obama wants to be the "Pioneer of Insourcing."

And he calls Romney a "pioneer of outsourcing."

Meanwhile, Romney says "Liberal policies don't make good jobs."

In those 2 quotes, I see an implicit debate, with Romney holding the better position. They're running for President, not businessman. The question is: What can government do to improve employment in the United States? Romney is saying, essentially, Obama supports the kinds of government policies that create the conditions that cause a sensible businessperson to outsource. What is Obama proposing to do in his role as insourcing pioneer? Anything more than to express his caring and to point at Romney as someone who outsourced — i.e., Romney's real-world business experience dealing with conditions that Obama has no capacity or willingness to change?

July 17, 2012

At the Blue Rail Café...


... you can settle in for the night.

"Sometimes attorneys are desperate to find a way out of the legal profession."

"Sometimes that desperation will lead them down a strange road to an entirely new career — and not just a new career, but a new way of life."

ADDED: From the comments at the link: "That Boy George, come-hither look seals the deal."

"Please let me catch her, please let me catch her, that’s all I could say."

"Let me catch the little baby, that’s all."

IN THE COMMENTS: I'm just waiting for the riffs that begin "You caught a little 7-year-old girl that fell from a 3d-story window? Good for you. But I want to be clear..."

"he was never miserable... he was always happy. shy, sweet, humble, never ever miserable."

"don't know what you've read but it 's wrong- he was happiest as a kid and teenager and had a great life, too short, but great. He was my father, my name's tracy nelson, his oldest, and so i should know. and sarah, yes, he kicks elvis' ass. :-)"

I found that after looking at List-a-Beefy's spotlight on the #2 hits of 1957. List-a-Beefy is counting down the top 100 songs in the history of the top 100 that reached #2. "A Teenager's Romance" did not make the list. The only 1957 song that did is "Bye Bye Love," by The Everly Brothers, which "establishes the forlorn bellow of the slighted teen that would grow to be the most popular of voices in the coming five years, yet it did so with rhythm and poise." 1957 was apparently a big year for teenagers. There was also — reaching #2 — "Young Love," by Sonny James and "Teen-Age Crush" by Tommy Sands.

"I listened to 2 minutes of [Zimmerman's] cousin's calls and didn't believe a word she said. She was tentative and her tears sounded phoney."

"That of course, is just my opinion," says TalkLeft's Jeralyn Merritt. "I'm pretty surprised Judge Lester ordered their release."

Go here for details and to listen to the calls.

"Wisconsin Unveils New-Look Bucky Badger."

"We just felt it was time for something a little fresher and more modern," said University of Wisconsin athletic director, Barry Alvarez.
Alvarez said that Wisconsin officials wanted something "edgier," as well. "No offense, but the old Bucky was just a little too nice-looking...."

"You gave it your best shot in 2002. You felt like you had to do it. You had to go and give back to the country, and you tried and they didn't take you, so let's move on."

4 of 5 of Romney's sons thought he should not run again:

"When my son was 5, he asked me if I thought his 1-year-old sister was 'president of all the babies in the world — I mean, like, secretly'..."

"... and I had to admit that I couldn’t prove she wasn’t," writes Eric McHenry, explaining why he isn't going to respond to every argument made by Jack Cashill, the man who obsesses over Barack Obama's poetry. (There are 3 Obama poems, published when he was in college.)

I love the linked piece. Cashill is so bizarre, Obama's poetry is so jejune, and McHenry's an elegant writer.

But let's get back to the babies. I'm fascinated by the notion that all the babies of the world would somehow have a secret alliance. How would they communicate? What are their nationalistic goals? Could someone please write a screenplay?

ADDED: Here's what the Maraniss bio of Obama says about that poem "Pop":

"The Progressivity of Taxes and Transfers."

From Harvard econprof Greg Mankiw:
Because transfer payments are, in effect, the opposite of taxes, it makes sense to look not just at taxes paid, but at taxes paid minus transfers received. For 2009, the most recent year available, here are taxes less transfers as a percentage of market income (income that households earned from their work and savings):

"If it was a bad idea to raise taxes... in a down economy then, why is it a good idea to raise taxes in a down economy now?"

Asked David Gregory, on "Meet the Press," after showing a clip of President Obama from January 29, 2010. At the time, Obama said:
I am just listening to the consensus among people who know the economy best. And what they will say is that if you either increase taxes or significantly lowered spending when the economy remains somewhat fragile, that that would have a de-stimulative effect and potentially you’d see a lot of folks losing business, more folks potentially losing jobs. That would be a mistake when the economy has not fully taken off.
How much of a President's work is done by just listening to the consensus among people who supposedly know something best? What's the alternative? Well, knowing stuff. But how much can one person know? He must defer to the experts, and presumably he's chosen the best experts, or, more accurately, he's chosen experts at choosing experts or experts at choosing experts at choosing experts at choosing experts. And then he can defer. Especially when these experts achieve consensus.

And yet, if he had his experts and they reached consensus, what has changed now? You could say: He's closer to the election, but why would that affect the experts...

.... if the experts are the experts who will serve?

... then I'm sure to get a brain... a heart... the nerve

The experts who are serving now are different experts, with different expertise. Bring in the new team of experts. And watch them achieve consensus: Tax the rich!

Inclusion of Oscar Pistorius in the Olympics - "political correctness gone mad or an inspiring human story"?

That question was asked of Michael Johnson — who has twice won an Olympic gold medal in the event that will include Pistorius, the 400 meter:
“I think it is both. I know Oscar well, and he knows my position; my position is that because we don’t know for sure whether he gets an advantage from the prosthetics that he wears it is unfair to the able-bodied competitors.

"That is hard for a lot of people to take and to understand when you are talking about an athlete and an individual who has a disability. It is a great story, he is a great individual and he has been a great ambassador for athletes with a disability and for people, and how to overcome [that] and continue to strive."
Should Pistorius be allowed to compete?
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ADDED: Poll results:

"No Apologies: Why Mitt Romney Should Own His Rapaciousness."

That's the headline provided by email from The New Republic for this article by Timothy Noah, which, at the page, is headlined "Mitt Romney, Crybaby Capitalist."

I know, Noah is irritating if you're not rooting against Romney, but isn't there something to this point? It's something David Gregory kept trying to bring out on "Meet the Press" last Sunday. First, he was talking to Ed Gillespie (Senior Adviser, Romney 2012 Campaign/Former Chair, Republican National Committee), and I'll just ignore Gillespie's evasions. Here's Gregory, spliced together:

After Obama's ad mocked Romney's singing, Romney responded with an ad that used Obama's singing "Let's Stay Together."

And now the ad is gone, due to a copyright claim. The campaign says "Our use was 100% proper, under fair use, and we plan to defend ourselves." I'm 95% sure that's correct. But:

1. "Let's Stay Together" is a beautiful, well-loved song that belongs to all of us, and we're all hurt if it is appropriated into a hostile, political context.

 2. A candidate who supports business and free enterprise should respect property, and it's Al Green's song. There's a legal limit to his property right in his song, and I don't think the Romney campaign overstepped that limit, but there's still a social space within which we might want to show respect for the owner. Think about how you feel about the public sidewalk in front of your house. Would you stand on the sidewalk outside somebody's house if you knew it was bothering them? I wouldn't. It's a matter of living together in harmony, beyond the call of legalities.

3. Obama is very attractive in his singing-like-Al-Green mode. Romney shouldn't even want to display that. It's Obama at his most likable. And he's been losing in the likability contest. Don't remind us why we've been liking the President... whether times are good or bad, happy or sad... oh! why do people break up...

IN THE COMMENTS: Paul Zrimsek said:
If you’ve got a hit song — you didn’t sing that. Somebody else made that happen.

Take the "I Side With" quiz to see the extent to which you agree with the various presidential candidates.

And the extent to which you agree with the people of your state and of the country.

What I think is most interesting about the results you get — and I've seen mine and a couple others — is the strength of agreement with multiple candidates when the candidates are disagreeing with each other. That's because there's really a lot more agreement among the candidates — and among the people of your state and among Americans as a whole — than it seems when we're plunged into these periods of political campaigning (which, these days, seems to be all the time).

For example, on the agreement with Americans line, I've seen results as high as 90%. How can there be that much agreement? Well, the truth is we agree about an awful lot of things, but if we're going to fight, it accentuates what we don't agree about. And I think that's why so many people feel that they are not political and they don't like politics. Most of my life, until I started blogging and covering politics, I have said, even when being completely honest with myself, that I'm not political. I counted it as a deficiency of mine that I didn't have political opinions. You hear so much about politics, but not so much about all the things we share very strongly.

I'd like to make a quiz with 20 questions, about important political matters, where the results would show that 99% of Americans agree. You know, things like: Everyone should have the right to believe in whatever religion he or she chooses or not to believe in any religion at all — yes/no/something else.

Obama's cookie controversy.

Asked by a girl to name his favorite Girl Scout cookie, Obama says "“I’ve gotta say that I’m pretty partial to those mint..." and somebody booed....
"I didn’t mean to create controversy here,” Obama responded. “Did you hear, there was somebody booing? What was your choice? Who was booing up there? He had a different opinion. What are you, oatmeal? Peanut butter is quite good too. But I’m going with the mint.”
But isn't it refreshing — as we fight about everything — to fight over something inconsequential? To play-fight. It's like sports and games. Keeps us from getting too frustrated and mean.

IN THE COMMENTS: rhhardin said:
He's lying about the mint. He lies about everything.
Imagine if he told the truth:
Cookies! I don't eat cookies. You see how skinny I am? I was a pudgy kid [like you], and I ate plenty of cookies in my day, especially in those days when I was chooming. But now I smoke the right stuff: good old tobacco cigarettes. The kind of cigarettes that don't make you want to eat. The kind that keep you thin. That's the secret.
I know, you expect me to say "Thin Mints," because that's the favorite Girl Scout cookie, but I'm not going to lie to you. It's ridiculous to use the word "thin" in the name of a cookie. Cookies make you fat. I am skinny. I don't eat cookies. I smoke cigarettes. It's a choice you make, and I decided a long while ago that it was worth the risk, the risk of lung cancer, to control my weight, because weight'll kill you too. Plus, it's hell on your political career. The fat Barack Obama would not be President Obama. That's just the way it is.
And by the way, if I did eat cookies, I'd eat better quality cookies. I mean, I've got an executive pastry chef in the White House. This guy used to be the pastry chef at Montrachet Restaurant in New York City. Can you picture the cookies I have access to?
But good for you, little Girl Scout, good for you trying to better yourself by getting some door-to-door sales experience selling cookies to the bitter small town folks who cling to their Do-si-dos and Tagalongs. As they say in the Girl Scouts: Thank U Berry Munch. Barry Munch... would've been a great nickname for me, back in my chubby, chooming youth.

July 16, 2012

"He was the only guy who was ever nice to me."

Explanation a woman gave for why she kept the dead body of a man in her house for what the police say was 18 months.
She kept the body clean and dressed and talked to it while watching NASCAR on television.
And she cashed his Social Security checks.

When Justice Scalia called up Bryan Garner and said "You know, Bryan? I miss you."

Garner — who'd co-written “Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges” with Scalia — said, "Well, I miss you, too, Nino. You know, there’s a cure for that. Let’s start the second book.’”

The second book is “Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts.”

There's also this from Garner:
“I have it on good authority,” he conceded in one peek under the robes, “that when appellants to the U.S. Supreme Court spend eighty per cent of their time looking at Justice Kennedy,” who has gained a reputation as the divided Court’s swing vote, “it’s annoying.” He waited a beat. “To the others.”
To Scalia. And now — after the Obamacare case — he'll have to put up with lawyers looking at Roberts.

What the comedian said when the female heckler yelled "Actually, rape jokes are never funny!"

"Wouldn't it be funny if that girl got raped by like, five guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her?"

Daniel Tosh subsequently apologized but later defended himself on Twitter:
The point I was making before I was heckled is there are awful things in the world but you can still make jokes about them. #deadbabies....

Opinion? (Have more than one if you like.)
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"This is probably one of the most obnoxious things I've ever seen."

"After my ears stop bleeding from the music, and my eyes stop bleeding from this hot mess of silly text and bad editing maybe I can find words for how loathsome I find this."
If this couple had wanted some weird busy-body taking pictures, I'm pretty sure they would have hired a photographers for the big moment. Now they're on YouTube because some hillbilly thinks they have a viral video on their hands.

Gladys Kravitz, please just close the curtain and go sit on the sofa....

Well, one thing is for certain. It is NOT a picture of a proposal.... This is a scam for publicity.
Ha ha. I love when I think something is bullshit and the comments are already there calling bullshit.

UPDATE: "It wasn't a proposal."

Matt Taibbi "wants conservatives to conceal their views for fear of being seen as racist — to act as if they are guilty."

"But that would reinforce, not reduce, racial tension."
If white conservatives in the presence of black people act as if their worldview is a shameful secret, of course black people will think conservatism is racist. Which, of course, would suit lefties like Taibbi just fine.

At the Questing Oryx Café...

... please continue.

(Animation by Chip Ahoy, who was inspired by "The Screw, Screwed.")

"Obama... was known in [his Occidental College dorm] for his wicked impression of Mick Jagger."

"He could do the walk, the strut, the face, and act out the dramatic scene of the Rolling Stones onstage at the Altamont Speedway outside Livermore, California, on December 6, 1969, as violence that would lead to murder broke out in the crowd below: 'Hey, hey people, sisters and brothers, brothers and sisters, come on now! That means everybody just cool out! They’re fightin’ a lot. Will you cool out, everybody?'"

Page 341 of "Barack Obama: The Story," by David Maraniss.

The line I remember from that scene is "Who's fighting and what for?" Here's a good on-line clip of the Speedway incident, taken from the excellent Maysles Brothers documentary "Gimme Shelter."

It's interesting to think of Barack Obama seeing himself in the Mick Jagger role. It's not just that Obama envisions himself as the rock star, but that he saw the partying dorm-mates as the rough crowd at the Speedway who needed instruction from the stage on how to cool out.

Drudge is back to color with a glowing image of Romney...

... who has — supposedly — "made his decision!" for VP.

Also on the page right now: Column 1: A very skinny-looking Obama with his fists balled up as though he's going to bang on the lectern. The linked story is: "Obama Goes Wild: 'If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.'" Column 2: Traffic on a road with the sign reading "Avoid London/Area closed," above a link reading "CHAOS: 32-mile backup in London as VIP Games lanes open...." (By the way, don't these London Olympics chaos stories help Romney, the man who saved the Salt Lake City Olympics?) Column 3: A dramatic and somber closeup of Hillary Clinton, above links about Egyptians throwing things at her motorcade. Below the fold in Column 2 is a holdover from Drudge's B&W period: The comedian George Lopez and a link to his routine with the line "Romney Is F***ing Latino, He Won't Admit It..."

A new Obama ad and a new Romney ad.

I'm getting these via Paul Constant at Slog, who says this about the Obama ad:
Holy fucking shit. This is the most brutal attack ad I've seen in a long, long time. It minces the hell out of Romney's offshore fortunes and his record as a jobs exporter (in the private and public sectors). And it makes fun of Romney's singing voice, turning his version of "America, the Beautiful" into a symbol of his warped view of patriotism... This is just an incredible, devastating attack ad. I don't know if it's going to turn any hearts and minds to Obama, but it's going to sure as hell send the Romney campaign reeling. And the Obama campaign likes it when the Romney campaign is reeling.
And he says this about the Romney ad:
It's weak sauce. First of all, you can't argue against negative campaigning in a negative ad. Second, both Romney and Obama have both used negative ads before, so this is nothing new. What this ad is complaining about is that Obama's negative ads are working.
Here's the "brutal" Obama ad:

And here's the "weak sauce" Romney ad:

A few thoughts:

1. The Obama ad is nicely done artistically. It's different.

2. People generally experience Obama as more human than Romney. The new Obama ad undercuts efforts to portray Romney as plastic and robotic. Remember when Hillary Clinton got caught singing the National Anthem badly?

The impulse to use this clip to mock Hillary backfired. People tend to find sincere but bad singing endearing — and this can be especially good for a candidate who has been coming across as too controled. It's "a completely humanizing moment."

3. The Romney ad is much less striking. Unlike the Obama ad, it doesn't grab attention as a beautifully crafted short film. It looks do-it-yourself and webby. There's humility to it. Just wondering what happened to the hope, you know. It oddly resonates with the Obama ad that tries to humiliate Romney for singing badly. America is oriented — generally — toward liking Obama, the man. That's a mysterious process. Hard to see exactly why it happened and how it could be reversed. Obama is relying on it... and relying on the seeming impossibility that anyone could love Romney. The Romney ad very gently tries to undermine the love. He gave us hope. Where is the hope?

"Calls to destroy the Pyramids were a hoax, begun by a satirical twitter account, which western news outlets took as fact."

And that's from Reddit, so maybe that's a hoax. I'm not untangling this for you, folks, but since I ran with the original story, I'm giving you this.

July 15, 2012

Obama is channeling Elizabeth Warren.

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet."

Link. Via Drudge.

And here's the famous Elizabeth Warren riff.

At the Sunflower Café...


... break out!

Why should I branch out? I've branched in.

Is that an original aphorism? Google says yes. So... yes?