URLs du Jour

2008-01-30

  • We previously blogged on the latest hijinks at Brandeis University where Professor Donald Hindley found himself in a Kafkaesque situation based on his utterance of the word "wetback" in one of his classes. Among other things, we linked to an utterly devastating analysis of a letter sent by Brandeis Provost Marty Wyngaarden Krauss to Professor Hindley.

    But now Provost Marty has sent out another missive, this time to the entire Brandeis faculty. It's safe to say she hasn't learned much; it's full of educrat bafflegab, and she notes that the "case is now considered closed." (Translation: "If we said any more about this, it would only expose us further to ridicule and condemnation.") And her grammar hasn't gotten any better:

    I have been and will continue to work with the Faculty Senate Council regarding programs for the faculty that increase our internal capacity for understanding diversity issues.

    The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education fisks the Provost's letter; impossible to excerpt, I encourage you to check it out. Lawprof Eugene Volokh reprints the letter in full and is unimpressed by the lack of disclosure:

    This is an issue that goes to the heart of Brandeis's role as a center for learning and teaching, and its credibility as a center for learning and teaching. And the University's response is that the "case is now considered closed," and no further information is forthcoming (except perhaps through future "programs that increase our internal capacity for understanding diversity issues"). Nor is the confidentiality argument plausible — the question is what the university thinks the professor (who has spoken publicly on the matter) said in class in front of many students.
    In a separate post, Prof Volokh analyzes the Brandeis speech code, also well worth checking out. (Mostly because, almost certainly, it's similar to a speech code at a University Near You.) The prof's conclusion:
    Of course, I quite doubt that the policy is enforced often, or evenhandedly. But it's out there whenever someone (a student, a student group, or the administration) wants to make trouble for others who express certain kinds of views. Not what we ought to have at universities that try to take free speech and academic freedom, it seems to me. But inevitable once one asserts a supposed civil right to be free from "harassment," defined to include speech (including speech not directed at the offended person) that might offend based on race, religion, sex, and the like.

  • Arnold Kling has written extensively on healthcare issues, but his current essay at TCS Daily examines that issuue from the trenches, as his father has developed some acute medical problems. And his perspective has changed as a result:
    … I have also come around to some different points of view about our health care system. I no longer think of Medicare and health care regulation as inefficient. I now think of them as pure evil.
    If you're in the position of managing the care of an older person, or if you're planning on getting old yourself, Arnold's essay will depress you, but you should read it anyway. He also has a followup blog post.
    … what you deal with are people who are doing their job. For example, the cardiologist's job is to make sure his heart does not give out, even if it means he lies on his back for so long that the prospects for restoring diginity recede. Everyone wants to shunt him around, giving him more Hansonian medicine, which detracts from his ability to remain lucid.

    For the larger goal of trying to do the best with his remaining life, nobody is in charge and nobody is empowered. Particularly in that big hospital. I'll probably be back there soon, but I don't know what medical decisions would best serve our goals and I don't know how to get the system to work for us.

  • After reading about smiley-face-fascist university administrators and our depressing healthcare future, you'll want some cheering up. Iowahawk fills the bill with a recovered script from a 70's TV classic, Makaniak.
    ACT I: Downtown Police HQ

    Captain O'Malley
    I don't care how bad you want Makaniak for this case, Granger. I don't like it -- I don't like it one bit! After that Gang of 14 corruption fiasco, do you really expect me to trust him again?

    Lt. Granger:
    Dammit, Captain, you know he was cleared by Internal Affairs! Leo Makaniak is the best undercover cop we've got. He's gotten so far inside the underworld he's on a first-name basis with every two-bit junky, pusher, and media slimeball in this whole stinking city! They know him. They trust him. He has broad cross-over appeal!

    Makaniak
    You wanted to see me, Lieutenant?

    Lt. Granger
    Yeah, Makaniak. Have a seat.

    Makaniak
    Make it quick, man. My connections are gonna get suspicious if they see me talking to a couple of filthy partisan cops.

    Oh, wait. That's depressing too. Sorry.


Last Modified 2012-10-15 11:01 AM EDT

Shoot 'Em Up

[Amazon Link] [3.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

This movie is a crude ultraviolent live-action cartoon. (To drive home the "cartoon" point, the very first shot is of Mr. Smith (played by Clive Owen) looking straight at the camera, mean as hell, then munching on a carrot. Soon after that, he asks the main bad guy, Hertz (played by Paul Giamatti), "What's up, Doc?". Hertz calls Smith a "wascally wabbit.")

The plot is contrived: Smith gets sucked into saving a very pregnant woman from her would-be killers. He delivers her baby while shooting it out with Hertz and his minions. Unfortunately, the mother is killed in the shootout—but, guess what, the bad guys also want the baby dead! Now, that's evil.

When the motivation behind all this is revealed, the plot goes from "contrived" to "ludicrously stupid." But, to its slight credit, the moviemakers know that it's stupid, and they wallow in it. The point is to have some slight motivation to drive the action, action, action.

IMDB claims the body count in this movie is 100, but that seems low.


Last Modified 2012-10-15 10:52 AM EDT

Freaky Farley

[Amazon Link] [5.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

This was loaned to me by a co-worker who claimed it was almost certainly the best horror movie filmed in Manchester, New Hampshire in the past two years. That's almost certainly correct.

And it was a revelation, because I think it explores new territories in film quality. I'd previously put movie quality on a spectrum:

  1. Good movies, like Casablanca, or Batman Begins.

  2. Bad movies, like Godfather III or Superman Returns.

  3. Movies so bad they're good. Amazon has a list, but I'm sure you can think of others.

  4. But beyond that are movies so bad, they become just bad again. No pleasure, not even guilty pleasure. No laughs, not even laughing at the incompetence of everyone involved. I think the last one of these I watched was Perfect Stranger, the one with Halle Barry and Bruce Willis.

But watching Freaky Farley, I think I've discovered:
  1. Movies so bad that their badness lacks pretense, and approaches perfection.
That's what we have in Freaky Farley, I think. It looks cheap and amateurish, the acting is wooden, the script seems as if it had been made up as the filming progressed. But there's absolutely no indication that they meant to do anything else.

Freaky Farley has its own MySpace page. The DVD has a "Making Of" featurette in addition to the movie, and it appears the filmmakers are a decent and pleasant bunch. So I urge you to buy it and watch it.


Last Modified 2012-10-15 10:59 AM EDT

URLs du Jour

2008-01-28

  • As mentioned yesterday, it's an open question whether John McCain is "well versed in economics", especially in John McCain's own mind. But Greg Mankiw has a favorable opinion of one of his tax ideas.

  • Senator McCain gets our grudging respect for at least sometimes admitting that he's not an economics whiz. And he also deserves mention for not getting sucked into the mad bipartisan rush for the "fiscal stimulus" package in DC.

    McCain's "stimulus" plan is here; there's only one item that might be fairly deemed a "gimmick" (the R&D tax credit).

  • Meanwhile the aforementioned Professor Mankiw gives his view on the "fiscal stimulus".
    In this environment, I would prefer to rely on monetary policy as the main source of macroeconomic stimulus. If there were a stronger case for a short-run demand-oriented fiscal stimulus, I would view the compromise package announced today as reasonable. But given where the economy is right now and the best forecasts of where it is heading, the fiscal package seems unnecessary as a short-run measure, while in the long run adding to the debt burden without doing anything to improve incentives for economic growth.
    I've only taken one course in economics, and it was over thirty years ago, and I didn't do that well, but even I can translate this from the Harvardese: it's a stupid idea.

  • Prof Mankiw also has a post with eleven—count 'em, eleven—links to other economists and pundits who agree with his negative assessment.

  • To round it to an even dozen, I'll throw in Steve Chapman. His opening:
    Washington, D.C. is a place where delusions go to thrive. That explains why Congress and the president are now agreed on remedies that will not work, expending money they do not have, to fix a problem that may not exist.

  • You will, of course, want to read a new Dave Barry column on the presidential race as it leads up to Florida's primary tomorrow. Sample:
    THE DEMOCRATIC RACE: It's down to Obama vs. Clinton, and it's getting nasty. They hate each other, with the kind of passionate hatred that you see only between two people who hold essentially the same positions on everything. Edwards is still running, but at this point they don't even bother to put a microphone on him for the debates. He just waves his arms to indicate how he's going to take on the big corporations.

  • But, speaking of passionate hatred, you might want to check out this broken-bottle fight between two groups I usually find myself in agreement with:

    • First, this Weekly Standard article from McCain supporters Benjamin Storey and Jenna Silber Storey, in which they defend the Senator against the libertarian charges that detail his "departures from strict free-market ideology." Basically, the defense is: so what?
      The moral vacuity of dogmatic libertarianism is poisonous to public life. By teaching that 'greed is good,' strict free-market ideology holds out the promise that private vices can be public virtues. Recent congressional history has laid bare the fallacy of this argument. Republicans who proclaimed from the stump that greed was good turned out to believe it when they got into office, amassing earmarks and bridges to nowhere by means of their newfound powers. Why should we be surprised? To expect them to do otherwise would be to expect that men sometimes risk their self-interest for the sake of the public good, which our economist friends tell us is impossible. Conservatives who forget that the free market is properly a piece of policy rather than an ideological end-in-itself not only obscure the importance of individual virtue, they undermine it.

    • Oooh! Libertarian Will Wilkinson couldn't resist picking up that gauntlet.
      I am more and more coming to the conclusion that National Greatness Conservatism, like all quasi-fascist movements, is based on a weird romantic teenager's fantasies about what it means to be a grown up. The fundamental moral decency of liberal individualism seems, to the unserious mind that thinks itself serious, completely insipid next to very exciting big boy ideas about shared struggle, sacrifice, duty, glory, virtue, and (most of all) power. And reading Aristotle in Greek.

      I sometimes think that liberal individualism is something like the intellectual and moral equivalent of the best modernist design — spare, elegant, functional — but hard to grasp or truly appreciate without a cultivated sense of style, without a little discerning maturity. National Greatness Conservatism is like a grotesque wood-paneled den stuffed with animal heads, mounted swords, garish carpets, and a giant roaring fire. Only the most vulgar tuck in next to that fire, light a fat cigar, and think they've really got it all figured out. But I'm afraid that's pretty much the kind of thing you get at the Committee on Social Thought. If you declaim the importance of virtue loudly enough, you don't have to actually think.

    • Oooh! Ross Douthat can't resist dealing with that metaphor.
      Allowing for a certain amount of deck-stacking on Will's part (I'd prefer that the carpets not be too garish, obviously, and I don't care much for taxidermy), the den with the roaring fire sounds awfully homey and appealing, while even "the best modernist design" often seems to me essentially chilly and faintly inhuman, and thus better admired from afar than actually inhabited. As Will says, this preference almost certainly reflects my lack of "discerning maturity" and my failure to "cultivate" my sense of style. There is, though, the vanishingly small possibility that certain forms of modernist design, like the stringent libertarianism that Will compares them to, emerge from an impatience with, well, actual human beings — with their abiding messiness and irrationality, with their particularist loyalties and romantic attachments and juvenile yearnings for solidarity, for heroism, for transcendence. Rational, mature beings, after all, would be perfectly happy living in the spare, elegant functionality of, say, an enormous housing project; only reactionaries and adolescents would cling to the clutter and disorder and, yes, the outright tastelessness of the old ethnic neighborhoods, where worse monstrosities than wood-paneled dens abounded.

    Fun argument. As usual in these conservative/libertarian disputes, I find myself nodding in agreement with the last thing I read, even if it's totally at odds with the previous thing I read. Anyway, if you're interested in that sort of thing, check out the posts; I think it's a lot more fun than listening to, say, the State of the Union Address.

  • Finally, you'll want to check out the album collection generated by the algorithm we used here. (Via the Agitator.)

Once

[Amazon Link] [4.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

I'm supposed to be immune to this multi-cultural junk, but … this is a sweet story of a brief relationship between an Irish street musician, and a young Czech woman. They're drawn together by their love of music, and the fact that he's also a vacuum repairman, and she has a broken vacuum.

Well, it's not quite that simple, but almost. Part of the charm is that both remain unnamed through the movie (they are "Guy" and "Girl" in the credits). And they both have Significant Others in the background; he's just broken up with a girlfriend who's in London, and she's got a kid and an absent husband. It's gently funny in the right places.

All in all, not a bad "chick flick" movie.


Last Modified 2012-10-15 10:53 AM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2008-01-27 Update

Our phony table has lost two of its rows, with Fred Thompson and Dennis Kucinich bowing out of the race. And is it just me, or would anyone else think a major TV network should remake "The Odd Couple" staring Fred and Dennis as Oscar and Felix, respectively? I'd watch.

Query StringHit CountChange Since
2008-01-21
"Hillary Clinton" phony233,000+12,000
"Ron Paul" phony206,000-18,000
"Barack Obama" phony168,000-1,000
"John McCain" phony164,000+9,000
"John Edwards" phony160,0000
"Mitt Romney" phony149,000-23,000
"Rudy Giuliani" phony128,000+8,000
"Mike Huckabee" phony125,0000

Hillary's "surged" back into first place, and it's no wonder.

  • Sheldon Alberts is the Washington correspondent for Canwest News. At least that is what this article claims, and I say: who would possibly lie about that? Sheldon notes Bill Clinton remembering those wonderful days when it was just "the right wing of the Republican party" who dared criticize his wife:
    Now, he said, fellow Democrats supporting Obama and former senator John Edwards are being just as vicious.

    "I watched her in the Iowa caucus — I watched her being called dishonest, not truthful, phony, plastic," he said. "It's like open season."

    It is, of course, utterly disgraceful for one candidate to call another one phony.

  • Well, of course, unless you're desperate about not finishing third in the South Carolina Primary. So Hillary's campaign had no problems placing anti-Edwards robocalls to SC Democrats that (in the words of John Dickerson at Slate) "essentially said he was a big phony."
    Hello, This is the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign. Before you vote on Saturday, you should know that John Edwards voted for permanent trade relations with China. That's right, John Edwards voted for the bill that cost thousands of jobs. Like the ones in the textile mills he talks about so much down here.

    You should also know that John Edwards made nearly a half a million dollars working for a Wall Street investment fund. A fund that's been profiting on foreclosing on the homes of families; including 100 homes right here in South Carolina. That's according to The State newspaper. Here in South Carolina, Edwards says he's one of us, but up on Wall Street he was just another one of them.

    Can you trust John Edwards? This call is paid for by the Hillary Clinton for President Campaign.

    Double phony points to the Clintons for griping about mudslinging tactics while simultaneously doing the same themselves.

  • While this Googlehit thing is kind of fun, we've repeatedly pointed out that if it really worked reliably, John Edwards would be in an unchallenged first place. Charles Krauthammer does a pretty good job of pointing this out:
    Edwards has made much of his renunciation of his Iraq War vote. But he has not stopped there. His entire campaign has been an orgy of regret and renunciation.
    • As senator, he voted in 2001 for a bankruptcy bill that he now denounces.

    • As senator, he voted for storing nuclear waste in Nevada's Yucca Mountain. Twice. He is now fiercely opposed.

    • As senator, he voted for the Bush-Kennedy No Child Left Behind education reform. He now campaigns against it, promising to have it "radically overhauled."

    • As senator, he voted for the Patriot Act, calling it "a good bill ... and I am pleased to support it." He now attacks it.

    • As senator, he voted to give China normalized trade relations. Need I say? He now campaigns against liberalized trade with China as a sellout of the middle class to the great multinational agents of greed, etc.

    Breathtaking. People can change their minds about something. But everything? The man served one term in the Senate. He left not a single substantial piece of legislation to his name, only an astonishing string of votes on trade, education, civil liberties, energy, bankruptcy and, of course, war that now he not only renounces but inveighs against.
    Concludes Krauthammer: "By his own endlessly self-confessed record, his current pose is a coat of paint newly acquired. His claim that it is an expression of his inner soul is a farce."

  • Over on the GOP side, we have Senator McCain just plain lying about Romney's past position on Iraq. But outranking that, phony-wise, was his response to Tim Russert in the recent debate:
    RUSSERT: [...] Senator McCain, you have said repeatedly, quote, "I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated." Is it a problem for your campaign that the economy is now the most important issue, one that by your own acknowledgment you're not well versed on?

    MCCAIN: Actually, I don't know where you got that quote from. I'm very well versed in economics. I was there at the Reagan revolution. I was there when we enacted the first -- or just after we enacted the first tax cuts and the restraints on spending. I was chairman of the Commerce Committee in the United States Senate, which addresses virtually every major economic issue that affects the United States of America. I'm very well versed on economics.

    Unfortunately for Mr. Straight Talk, just about everyone was ready to dig up where did say exactly that, and a number of other instances where he said things like that. Ouch.

    He tried to dig himself out of his hole on Meet the Press today:

    Of course I know more about national security than any other issue. That's been my entire life. Am I, am I smart on economics? Yes. I was chairman of the Commerce Committee. Why--that's why people like Phil Gramm, Tom Coburn and Warren Rudman and Carly Fiorina and the real strong economic minds, Jack Kemp, the real strong minds on the economy and, and conservatives on the economy are supporting me. They don't think that I'm--of course, I always have things to learn, and I continue to learn every day. But I'm very strong on the economy, and, frankly, my economic record is a lot stronger than that of the governor of Massachusetts when you look at his record as governor.
    I preferred it when he claimed to be dumb on economics, frankly. Now I think his position is something like: "I once pretended to be humble on certain issues. Just kidding! I'm totally awesome on all of them."

Last Modified 2014-12-01 10:17 AM EST

There She Goes

Although Pun Salad made no formal endorsements, we were disappointed in last night's results. It seems the voters involved had a lack of respect for a woman's long record of public service, bravery, intelligence, and character.

We are referring to, of course, the fact that Jill Stevens, Miss Utah failed to win the Miss America crown. What were they thinking?

Chuck Simmins, the guy from whom I learned about Jill, is also displeased. He quotes from the Salt Lake Tribune:

Stevens, a native of Kaysville, had long acknowledged that she didn't quite fit the model of a pageant queen. A marathon runner and the only contestant to choose a one-piece suit for what is billed as a the "fitness" portion of the competition, she answered to her elimination by dropping to the stage for a set of push-ups, to the cheers of thousands in the audience, including scores of fellow members of the Utah National Guard.
That would have been worth seeing.

This also marks the 87th consecutive year that Miss New Hampshire has lost.

The last Miss America that Pun Salad actually remembers liking was Bess Myerson. As far as this blogger is concerned, it's been downhill from there. (However, to be fair, the rest of the Salad family actually met Miss America 1992, Carolyn Suzanne Sapp, as she attended a nutrition-related function here in 1992. They really liked her.)

Pun Salad also wants to go on record as saying that perhaps the single best TV situation comedy episode of all time is "Herb's Dad" wherein Bert Parks played Herb Tarlek, Sr. on WKRP in Cincinnati.

Branded at Brandeis

Professor Donald Hindley of Brandeis U is the latest victim of liberal fascism:

A professor at Brandeis University says his rights to free speech and due process were violated after he was disciplined for using the word "wetback" during a political science class.
The link above is to the tell-both-sides Boston Globe story, and is a good overview of the controversy. The university's administration assigned a "monitor" to sit in on Professor Hindley's classes. They demanded that he attend "antidiscrimination training;" he refused. Unsurprisingly, there's lots more:
  • Inside Higher Ed first reported on the controversy last November; they provided an update yesterday on how the controversy has proceeded since; the faculty, at least, seems united in outrage. (For, yea, 'tis one of their oxen being gored.)

  • The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is also on the case, at Professor Hindley's request. They have a pageful of links to their own materials and media coverage. In their press release, FIRE states that Hindley "has neither been granted a formal hearing by Brandeis nor provided with the substance of the accusations against him in writing."

  • But my absolute favorite link in this matter (so far) has been the hilariously scathing analysis from the "University Diaries" blog at Inside Higher Ed of the letter sent to Professor Hindley from Provost Marty Wyngaarden Krauss.

    For example, when Provost Marty writes:

    The University will not tolerate inappropriate, racial and discriminatory conduct by members of its faculty.
    The Diarist adds the comment:
    A bit confused there. inappropriate, racial and discriminatory conduct... What is racial conduct?
    Indeed. As one of the commenters remarks, lapsing into ungrammatical nonsense is a signal that the writer is issuing an "automated, catechistic response, like repeating a prayer in Latin without knowing or caring what the words mean."

  • And I will quote Instapundit's reaction in full: "They told me that if George W. Bush were re-elected, academic freedom would be threatened by the whims of unaccountable bureaucrats. And they were right!"

  • Brandeis previously came to our attention for hounding a campus humor magazine out of operation, and censoring a Palestinian art exhibition.

Oh, and another irony that the Boston Globe couldn't help itself from adding to the tail of its story:

Brandeis University is named for former US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who was famed for his defense of free speech.
It's pretty clear that any prospective student who values free speech will want to cross Brandeis off his or her list.

An Appropriately Short Kucinich Retrospective

Dennis Kucinich has pulled out of the presidential race. His candidacy was an occasional source of amusement here at Pun Salad. A brief look back:

  • We requoted a particularly loony passage from Dennis's campaign book here; also quoted in full was his 2002 "Haiku of Hegemony".

  • One of my all-time favorite posts—we don't go for false modesty here at Pun Salad—was my transcription of Elizabeth Kucinich's brief speech at RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth New Hampshire last February.

  • Post-primary, I found DK to be a "yellin' lunatic demagogue" in his concession speech which you can still watch here.

The Kucinichs' great contribution to the campaign was their ability to make the others look sane in comparison.

Let me repeat: in comparison.


Last Modified 2008-01-29 9:20 AM EST

Ladies and Gentlemen …

… announcing the latest album from my band:

[My Album]

At least according to the algorithm described here. (Via Atlantic Avenue. Original photo here.)

I believe we are a techno-emo band, and manage to incorporate the most annoying characteristics of both genres. Our lead singer only sings in Spanish, which he doesn't know very well.


Last Modified 2008-01-29 9:21 AM EST

URLs du Fred

2008-01-23

[Fred] Sigh. My favorite candidate dropped out of the race yesterday.

  • Pejman Yousefzadeh does a nice summary of what he, and I, liked about him:

    Thompson was the only candidate in the GOP race who consistently advocated a small-government, free market, federalist message and his departure leaves a hole in the race for the GOP nomination. Neither one of his competitors articulated the message of Reaganism as closely and as eloquently as Thompson did.

  • At NRO, K-Lo is eloquent:

    What his campaign may have lacked in organizational luster and ambition it made up for in authenticity and charm. You knew his greatest dream in life wasn't to be president. You knew he'd be happy living life with his family, advising those who wanted his opinion and expertise, talking federalism with Beltway friends on weekends. When he was on Meet the Press a while back, Claremont's Seth Leibsohn said, admiringly, "Fred came off like his hour there was not the most important thing he had to do that day." There's something attractive about that. And that it won't get you elected president is today's reality, it's a reality to reflect on.

  • At Classical Values, Eric sounds a similar theme:

    Those who most want to be president are those who least deserve to be elected. The best presidents are those who are forced or persuaded by others into accepting the job.

    All the more reason he would have been a great president.

    Don't expect me to throw my support to anyone right now. (Not that it would make much difference.) Before I supported Fred I supported Guiliani and I guess I can do that again, but that's not the point of this post.

    The whole thing is just a damned shame.

    Not only for the present, but for the future, I'd add.

  • Eric links to Patick Cox at Pajamas Media, who is looking for the pony:

    His clout and connections in Hollywood put him in a unique and valuable position. If the good Senator chooses to do so, he can do for the entertainment business what Rupert Murdoch did for television news. Just as a monolithic leftist media bias opened a hugely profitable door for Murdoch to walk through, Fred Thompson can use the door created by a a leftist and exclusionary Hollywood. In the end, he may be able to use his increased respect and visibility to create a pro-freedom, pro-American studio that teaches the principles of the Enlightenment not just to Americans but to the world. If he does, he may actually accomplish more than a Thompson presidency could have.

    Yeah, maybe. Stranger things have happened.

  • Jim Geraghty opines (using Frank J's semi-famous rhetoric) that Fred shoulda punched more hippies. Specifically, he remembers Fred's masterful video rebuttal to Michael Moore's offer to debate health care issues, and wishes he could have done more of that. Me too.

  • And at Fred's website:

    [Thanks]

    You're welcome.


Last Modified 2012-10-15 10:56 AM EDT

The Brothers Solomon

[Amazon Link] [2.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

It's not very funny. Or good. But it has Kristen Wiig in it.

Will Arnett and Will Forte play John and Dean Solomon, two young brothers living together in a nameless city. For reasons too tedious to go into, they completely lack social skills. The movie doesn't make it clear whether they're also inordinately stupid, but I vote "yes" on that score too.

So they have a difficult time dealing with women. But, as luck would have it, they perceive a need to produce a grandchild for their father, who's lapsed into a coma.

The "stupid people are funny" genre has a long history, and I don't suppose it's going away anytime soon. But there's not much beyond that here.

Well, except, as I said before, Kristen Wiig. She's awesome.


Last Modified 2012-10-15 10:53 AM EDT

Liberal Fascism

[Amazon Link]

I had this book on order, Amazon tells me, since October 27, 2005. It finally showed up a couple weeks back, just missing my opportunity to get the author, Jonah Goldberg, to sign it when he was in the state as part of National Review's primary coverage. I've been a fan of Jonah's—I call him Jonah—for a number of years, due mainly to the unique mixture of humor, insight, and geeky references (most notably to Star Trek) in his writing.

But this is a serious book, so both the humor and the geekiness dials have been turned down to low levels. Although there are a few flashes of the Goldbergian wit; I don't think I saw any analysis of the relative fascism of the Federation as opposed to the Klingon Empire. No matter. The book is long, 400 pages of text, and about 50 pages worth of endnotes. But it reads easily. You may have heard that it's made some blogospheric lefties crazier than usual.

[fasces] The term fascism comes from the Latin word fasces, which refers to wooden rods bundled together usually holding an ax blade, as pictured on the right. (I stole the picture from the American Fascist Party's alleged web page. So sue me, fascists.) To me, the symbolism is pretty obvious: the individual sticks are relatively weak and easy to break; bound, they are strong enough to make a hefty and powerful tool, good for chopping peoples' heads off. It's inherently, and obviously, collectivist. And, at least to me, it's telling that the individual sticks don't have a lot of say in the matter; there's someone else doing the binding behind the scenes.

(Check the Wikipedia article, linked above, for a long list of how the fasces is used in American political symbolism. Happily, I don't think there are modern examples; at least there's not one on the dime anymore.)

Jonah explores the rise of Mussolini in Italy and his lionization by "progressives" of the day. (The term "liberal fascism" is not invented by Jonah; he notes that H. G. Wells in a 1932 speech at Oxford urged students at Oxford to become "liberal fascists" and "enlightened Nazis." Charming.) He also looks at Hitler, doing a compare-and-contrast with Mussolini.

But then he mostly moves into exploring American history, with chapters on Wilson, FDR, the violent revolutionaries of the 1960s, JFK and LBJ. (The stuff on Wilson was especially chilling.) He then looks at the history of left-wing eugenics and economics. He devotes an entire chapter to the radical collectivist ideology of Hillary Clinton; I'd say it should be required reading before anyone votes for her, but that would be fascist of me.

And there's more. If you're at all interested in the intellectual DNA of today's liberals/progressives—the stuff they'd prefer you didn't know about, anyway—the book is a very worthwhile read.

And it's relevant. For example, this very morning my local paper offers a front page article on the effort of a Maine legislator to ban drivers from moking in cars with children under 18 inside. Of course:

The primary purpose of Rep. Pat Blanchette's proposed bill [...] isn't to punish offenders with fines, she said. It's to increase public awareness about the danger of smoking in front of children.
That's a story that would fit right into page 388 or so.

(Right now Amazon has Liberal Fascism as the #8 bestseller—it was #1 for a while—despite quoting a "3 to 6 weeks" delivery time. But if I can wait over two years, you can manage a few weeks, can't you?) Jonah's "Liberal Fascism" blog is here, and also well worth reading while you're waiting for the book to show up.


Last Modified 2012-10-15 11:03 AM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2008-01-21 Update

All candidates shed phony hits over the past week, save for Mitt Romney, whose gains were good enough to vault him into (to use primary-vote analysis lingo) "a weak third".

Query StringHit CountChange Since
2008-01-14
"Ron Paul" phony224,000-17,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony221,000-13,000
"Mitt Romney" phony172,000+14,000
"Barack Obama" phony169,000-15,000
"Fred Thompson" phony164,000-22,000
"John Edwards" phony160,000-13,000
"John McCain" phony155,000-2,000
"Mike Huckabee" phony125,000-15,000
"Rudy Giuliani" phony120,000-4,000
"Dennis Kucinich" phony73,100-6,200

But what are the stories behind the hits?

  • Out in San Diego, Chris Reed has made his choice: "The phony I hope is our next president":
    Mitt Romney is now the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination. He has more delegates than all the other GOP hopefuls combined, he's finished first or second in every caucus or primary, and he's got the money advantage. The media, in full swoon over John McCain again, don't like this and make their bias plain. Newsweek now has a piece headlined, "Romney's Michigan Win: A Fluke?"

    I'm happy about Romney's rise. As a libertarian lite, I think a hypercompetent CEO type like Romney is most likely of all the candidates of both parties to do a good job managing the government without protectionism, intrusive nanny statism and hubristic idealism about grand, sweeping new initiatives. Sure, I think his posturing and pandering of recent months has been pathetic. But I agree with what a smart liberal, Jon Chait of The New Republic, has to say about it:

    Go see what Jon Chait of The New Republic has to say about it. (It's an excerpt from his not-yet-online article "My Little Phony: Defending Mitt Romney."

  • Chris wrote before the South Carolina results, where Romney finished "a strong fourth". But there's a phony story there too: a Christmas card sent from "The Romney Family" to a lot of South Carolina voters was branded as being "Paid for by the Boston Massachusetts [Mormon] Temple". It also included a polygamy-defending quote from a Mormon apostle, and a Book of Mormon verse about a FAIR AND WHITE virgin in Nazareth. (Emphasis in original.)

  • A Mr. Richard Cohen writes in Willmar Minnesota's West Central Tribune of his recent realization that—gasp!—Barack Obama can play just as fast and loose with the facts as the other politicians in the race:
    John Edwards lied about the cost of his haircuts. Fred Thompson lied about lobbying for a pro-choice outfit. John McCain insists that the U.S. was founded as a "Christian nation." Mitt Romney concocted the story about how his father marched with Martin Luther King Jr. And Rudy Giuliani is one-man fib machine — everything from why he had to provide police protection for his then-mistress to the cure rates for prostate cancer in Britain. Yet it is something Barack Obama said that bothers me most of all because Obama is a new kind of politician. He is supposed to be coolly authentic.

    What concerns me is the lie or fib or misstatement — call it what you want — that involves Obama's assertion that more young black males are in prison than in college. It is a shocking statistic — and it is wrong. But when The Washington Post's lonesome but formidable truth squad, Michael Dobbs, brought this to the attention of the Obama campaign, he not only got the brush-off but the assertion was later repeated.

    Let's play Sherlock Holmes briefly and look for the dog that's not barking. Which major phony candidate is missing from Cohen's first paragraph?

  • That's right, it's Hillary! In the New York Times, Patrick Healy reviews the recent history of her assumed personas:
    There has been Commander in Chief Hillary Rodham Clinton, the steely leader who, voters were assured, would "destroy" terrorists and be Thatcher-like tough.

    There has been Strong-and-Experienced Hillary Clinton, but that proved to be so uninspiring that Change-Agent Hillary and Likable-Since-I-Was-a-Kid Hillary were rolled out.

    And Teary-Eyed Hillary, of course, won the New Hampshire primary last week, after the candidate choked up describing the rigors of the race.

    But as her advisers said after New Hampshire, Mrs. Clinton cannot cry her way to the Democratic nomination. So she and her team have been searching for the right personality to help her connect emotionally with voters — an intuitive talent of her chief competitor for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Barack Obama — while also emphasizing her competence and experience.

    Emphasis added. For phony connoisseurs, Hillary is a five-star restaurant that never closes.

  • Of course, that last bit was from the New York Times, where they have no problem with op-ed columnists claiming to be in Derry, NH when they're actually in Jerusalem, Israel. Now, that's phony!


Last Modified 2014-12-01 10:17 AM EST

The Namesake

[Amazon Link] [4.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

I love IMDB's "plot keywords" feature, which for this movie are:

* Infidelity * Jet Lag * Pot Smoking * Train * Wedding Ceremony * Shaved Head * Singer * Airplane * Husband Wife Relationship * Parents * Namesake * Death * Train Crash * Culture Clash * Subtitled * Multiple Languages * Immigration * Interracial Romance * Indian American * Flashback Sequence * Father Son Relationship * Name Change * Shoes * Mother * Calcutta India * Arranged Marriage * Ganges * Interracial Relationship * Based On Novel * Title Spoken By Character
Shoes? Where were the shoes? I remember a couple scenes where people were barefoot. Where's that in the keywords?

Anyway: I liked this more than I expected. It's multiculturalism without the usual ideological baggage. In Calcutta, beautiful young Ashima accepts an arranged marriage with Ashoke, who carts her off to New York City; he's an engineering student there. Soon they have a son, and—for reasons to be fully explained later—they name him "Gogol" after the Ukrainian writer. Gogol grows up to be played by Kal Penn, Kumar himself, and he has his own problems to deal with.

I especially liked Ashoke's comments to others about how things are in America, made with a mixture of bewildered admiration: "They have a president named Jimmy!"

The characters are treated in depth, with intelligence and wit. Acting is fine. There's no grand moral point to be made, and the plot conflicts aren't major; to quote Homer Simpson, it's just a bunch of stuff that happened. But that's enough.


Last Modified 2012-10-15 10:54 AM EDT

URLs du Jour

2008-01-18 (PM Edition)

  • Jay Tea formalizes his candidate-evaluation "grayscale". It goes:

    1. I'd like to see this person as my president.
    2. I think they'd do OK as president.
    3. I think I can live with them as president.
    4. God help us if they get the nomination.
    5. Shoot me now.

    That's a good scale, and I agree with the people he puts in each category. Go see how you do.

  • I think Barack Obama is a rather doctrinaire statist liberal, but Ann Althouse reminds me why I put him in the "can live with" category: the pain of an Obama presidency would almost certainly be relieved by occasional actual humor.

  • "Sand in the Gears" would have been a pretty good name for this blog, but Tony Woodlief got it long before. He has an amusing take on the state of the presidential race, "gleaned from airport conversations and the occasional glance at Google news headlines." No excerpts, because you'll want to read the whole thing. (Via Megan.)

  • Iowahawk delves into solid investigatory territory—at least as solid as that trod by the New York Times—in reporting on an upswing in the "toll of violent crimes committed by journalists" which "has led some experts to warn that without programs for intensive mental health care, the nation faces a potential bloodbath at the hands of psychopathic media vets." So you'll want to know about that. Dan Rather does not appear in the article.

  • We've previously blogged about how "efficiency standards" gave us more expensive clothes washers that don't actually get clothes clean. At the OpenMarket blog, Richard Morrison notes that new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards set in the new energy legislation will continue that tradition by giving us more expensive vehicles that will be more likely to kill us.

    Many thanks to Congress and President Bush! Of course, the legislation might also reduce global warming by a fraction of a degree, by not only reducing auto emissions, but also preventing excess CO2 exhalation from all those humans that would have ordinarily survived.

URLs du Jour

2008-01-18

  • Advice to gang leaders: if you have the hankering to post YouTube videos showing you holding weapons and asking police to "come get some," you should probably lie down somewhere quiet until that hankering goes away. (Via Dave.)

  • Shawn Macomber visited Liberty Island, and wrote about it for Reason. Bottom line:
    I found a children's book in the gift shop that contains a handy glossary. It defines liberty as "the freedom to choose your work, your religion and your friends." In a perfect world, we'd chop that definition down to the first four words. Any kid paying attention would notice that Liberty Island exudes anything but.
    … but you should read the whole thing.

  • Down in Virginia, there's legislation in the works to ban "Truck Nuts." Which are … well, if you really need to know, there's a variety for sale here. Radley Balko quotes a legislator:
    It comes to a point where there are certain things you just can't do. And putting testicles on the back of a truck is just too much. So I am trying to stop it.
    I liked Raven's comment: "who the hell has rubber ones anyway? I have a steel set on my rig." No word on whether they sell Truck Nuts at Liberty Island. As for me, you can have my Truck Nuts when you pry them out of my cold, dead, … never mind.

  • Captain Kirk would not put Truck Nuts on the Enterprise. Probably. You can't tell from this new picture.

    (Yes, a new picture of the Enterprise gives me a total fanboy rush. Sorry. There are also not-in-character pictures of the cast. Cameron is playing Kirk's mom? That's wrong. But Bruce Greenwood as Christopher Pike is Dead Solid Perfect.)

Susan Faludi Makes a Case for Repealing the Nineteenth Amendment

Not intentionally, of course. At the Huffington Post, she experiences a "political epiphany" at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco, while eavesdropping on women caretaking their mothers while dealing with medical bureaucracy.

Listening to these women manage their mothers with effectiveness and as much patience as they could muster, admitting to errors, standing in interminable lines, speed-dialing medical professionals, I wanted to ask, "Could you run my country?"
Sure. Those are exactly the job skills we need in a President. Because the President does that sort of thing all the time.

But it turns out this sort of thing is exactly what propelled Hillary Clinton to her New Hampshire primary win:

… female voters didn't seem to be responding to Clinton's tears so much as to their outrage at men's reactions to those tears (in particular, men in the media).
Ah, there's a good reason to vote for someone: because men—boo, hiss—don't think Presidents should tear up, or even pretend to tear up, when asked softball questions about their feelings.

Faludi's conclusion:

If pundits ever tried to understand what some female voters know about the complexity of women's lives, they might begin to comprehend the appeal of a female candidate whose ethic of caring and whose posture of femininity derive from responsibilities beyond the maternal. And then they might begin to understand the affection of women in New Hampshire who put her over the top.
Alternatively, those pundits could reasonably ask: why on earth would women think that "caring" talents are exactly what are needed in a President?

For the record, I have more respect for female voters than does Susan Faludi. I think, on average, they're not as flighty and superficial as Susan thinks they are. Hope so, anyway.

3:10 to Yuma

[Amazon Link] [3.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

Why, yes, I did watch two Christian Bale movies in a row. Good catch.

As I type, this movie is #194 on IMDB's top-250 movies list of all time. Please. It's a mostly-faithful remake of a 1957 movie, about which I blogged here.

Christian Bale plays Dan Evans, a small Arizona rancher about to be crushed by ruthless capitalists; his family has lost all respect for him. But one day master criminal Ben Wade (played by Russell Crowe) and his gang decide to knock over a stagecoach in his neighborhood. Through a merry mixup, Wade gets caught while the rest of his gang escape. Wade must be placed on the next train to—guess where?—Yuma, which leaves at—guess when?—3:10. Seeing an opportunity for financial and moral salvation, Dan signs up for the escort party.

Psychological tension is mostly the ticket here; Wade and Dan develop a complex relationship, while the other members of the team dwindle away violently.

As you might expect, Crowe and Bale act the heck out of their roles. However, I liked the 1957 version better. Without spoilers, I didn't much care for the ending here.

Peter Fonda is in this, and (mea culpa) I was surprised to see his name in the credits; I didn't recognize him at all. (I skipped back and said: "Oh, yeaaah.")


Last Modified 2012-10-15 10:56 AM EDT

URLs du Vermin

2008-01-16

NH Primary fallout continues. If you were voting on the Republican side, I suppose you noticed that you could have voted for "Vermin Supreme", were you so inclined. (Skeptical? I got your sample PDF ballot right here.)

And I suppose you might also be wondering how Supreme comes down on the recount issue, pushed by other lunatic fringe candidates with unlikely names, like "Albert Howard" and "Dennis Kucinich".

Well, it turns out he's for it. Drew Cline has the press release to prove it.

Vermin's website? It's here.

The Phony Campaign

2008-01-14 Update

Most candidates gained phony hits at the Google post-NH Primary. Unaccountably, Fred Thompson and John Edwards swapped third and fifth place. The ways of the Google are mysterious indeed …

Query StringHit CountChange Since
2008-01-08
"Ron Paul" phony241,000+27,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony234,000+24,000
"Fred Thompson" phony186,000+39,000
"Barack Obama" phony184,000+14,000
"John Edwards" phony173,000-3,000
"Mitt Romney" phony158,000+15,000
"John McCain" phony157,000+16,000
"Mike Huckabee" phony140,000+11,000
"Rudy Giuliani" phony124,000+1,000
"Dennis Kucinich" phony79,300-3,500

As always, amusing accusations of phoniness are always dogging our candidates:

  • At Townhall, Michael Medved highlights recent CNN polls that show Romney doing poorly in head-to-head matchups against Clinton and Obama.
    After spending more money than his major opponents combined, Romney appears more and more clearly unelectable, and a Saturday column by Gail Collins in the New York Times gives a clear explanation why. "Unfortunately, there's something about Romney's perfect grooming, his malleability and his gee-whiz aura that seems to really irritate both the other candidates and the voters," she writes. "What bothers voters about Romney, as it turns out, is not his Mormonism but his inherent Mitt-ness."

    She's right, of course. As I've said repeatedly over the last several weeks, the problem for Romney isn;t his faith, it's his phoniness. It's even worse to see that in-authenticity combined with an all-too-visible mean and nasty streak in going after his rivals.

    This may be the only time Gail Collins was quoted approvingly by anyone at Townhall.

  • Pejman Yousefzadeh is also quite put out with Romney's approach to campaigning in the economically-moribund state of Michigan:
    One would think that Mitt Romney would use his hard-won credentials in the business world to work and introduce free market solutions (a.k.a. "the only solutions that have a sand castle's chance in an earthquake of working") to Michigan's problems.

    Instead, Romney says this: "What I'm critical of is the absence of a federal policy designed to strengthen the U.S. automotive sector and manufacturing general."

    Pejman bemoans Romney's facile abandonment of free market principles when it's convenient to pander to the American auto industry. He also points out that McCain and Huckabee aren't much better on this score.

  • Hillary Clinton was on "Meet the Press" yesterday, claiming that progress in Iraq is due to …, well, her:
    The point of the surge was to quickly move the Iraqi government and Iraqi people. That is only now beginning to happen, and I believe in large measure because the Iraqi government, they watch us, they listen to us. I know very well that they follow everything that I say.
    Over at Power Line, Scott posts a response to Hillary from a soldier serviing in Iraq:
    Having just gotten back from Iraq about a month ago, I'm stunned to see Hillary Clinton taking credit for the progress (political and otherwise) going on in Iraq. While she was jetting around the country, raising money for her personal political ambitions, I was riding around the streets of Iraq, fighting terrorists and raising the hopes of people I don't even know. For Clinton to suggest that her promises of future policies had more effect on the improvements in Iraq than even ONE of our soldiers is disgraceful and insulting. I will not allow her to take credit for the results of our hard work, especially when she opposed the policy to give us the help we needed ( i.e., the surge).
    Hey, you know what? It's not only disgraceful and insulting; it's also phony.


Last Modified 2014-12-01 10:17 AM EST

Rescue Dawn

[Amazon Link] [4.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

There oughta be a special kind of Oscar for "Best Performace Involving Disgusting Food". Christian Bale would probably be a real contender for his role here.

In this movie (based on a true story) he plays Dieter Dengler, a Navy pilot assigned, in 1965, to bomb the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos on his very combat first mission. And he gets shot down and taken prisoner by the Pathet Lao.

It's no picnic. In fact, it makes Stalag 17 look like the Waldorf Astoria.

Dieter joins prisoners accumulated by the Commies from previous CIA and military operations in southeast Asia. There's Duane, who's played by Steve Zahn, previously known mainly for amiable-goofball roles. There's also Eugene, played by Jeremy Davies; he's totally in character as 90%-crazy emaciated Charles Manson lookalike, who's mortally certain he's just about to be released as a result of ongoing secret negotiations. There are also a couple Thais and a Chinese smuggler from Hong Kong.

An unlikely bunch to plot and execute an escape plan, but that's what they do. The movie is intense and harrowing, and unabashedly on the side of the good guys. Very much worth your while, if you can stomach some poor culinary choices.


Last Modified 2012-10-15 10:54 AM EDT

URLs du Jour

2008-01-13

  • We've previously written about the District of Columbia's historic preservation cops preventing the demolition or alteration of the hideous and dysfunctional Third Church of Christ, Scientist. But if you think that was bad, check out this outrageous, but true, story of how the same arrogant bunch is preventing the installation of an access ramp onto a rowhouse. And so?
    And so, at ages 90 and 87, Cornelius and Merry Lucas remain stuck in their basement rooms, able to come and go only through a back door that opens onto an alleyway.
    The D. C. preservationists badly need to be ridiculed and demeaned, then fired. (Via OpenMarket.Org.)

  • If you are generally in favor of limited but competent government, a strong national defense, and free-market capitalism, the Washington Post gives you a choice today. You can choose to be depressed by George Will:
    Today, all the usual indicators are dismal for Republicans. If that broad assertion seems counterintuitive, produce a counterexample. The adverse indicators include: shifts in voters' identifications with the two parties (Democrats now 50 percent, Republicans 36 percent); the tendency of independents (they favored Democratic candidates by 18 points in 2006); the fact that Democrats hold a majority of congressional seats in states with 303 electoral votes; the Democrats' strength and the Republicans' relative weakness in fundraising; the percentage of Americans who think the country is on the "wrong track"; the Republicans' enthusiasm deficit relative to Democrats' embrace of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, one of whom will be nominated.
    … or you can be depressed by Jonah Goldberg:
    As pretty much everyone has noticed, the Republican race hasn't exactly followed any of the scripts laid out for it. Mitt Romney has been hacked apart like the Black Knight in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." John McCain's fortunes -- which had been bouncing up and down like a printout of Dick Cheney's EKG -- have suddenly spiked northward after his victory in New Hampshire. Fred Thompson ran a brilliant "testing the waters" campaign from his front porch, but when he tried to walk on the water, he sank like a basset hound trying to swim. Pushing the poor beast under the waves was Mike Huckabee, whose down-home folksiness makes Thompson look like David Niven.
    At least Jonah's significantly better than George at wisecrackery as we approach armageddon. David Niven. Heh! Aieeee!

  • Ann Coulter's father recently died, and she'd like to tell you about him.

  • And I try not to judge peoples' character negatively by what they write, even if I disagree with it. Even when I can't help myself, even more seldom do those judgments make it into this blog—why should you care?

    That said, however: if you read the previous item's link from Ann Coulter, you might want to check out this commentary on the same from a guy named Chris Kelly at the Huffington Post. See if you don't agree with me: Chris Kelly is one of the most vile, hate-filled people you'd never want to meet.


Last Modified 2008-01-13 5:11 PM EST

Hairspray

[Amazon Link] [4.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

This is a pretty good tongue-in-cheek musical set in 1962 Baltimore. It centers on Tracy Turnblad (played to, as near as I can tell, perfection by Nikki Blonsky); you would have to have a heart of cold stone not to love her. She is the dictionary definition of ebullience. But she's also "different": obese—but in a totally cute and perky way—with a mom who hasn't left the house in over a decade and a father who runs a joke shop.

In addition to Ms. Blonsky, the rest of the cast is excellent, too. Christopher Walken plays Tracy's eccentric dad; John Travolta plays her reclusive even-fatter mom. Tracy's near-term ambition is to dance on the local TV show, hosted by Corny Collins, played by James Marsden, the prince from Enchanted. She's opposed by the station's manager, snooty Velma von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer), but helped out by the saintly Motormouth Maybelle (Queen Latifah). The wonderful Jerry Stiller and Paul Dooley also show up in smaller roles.

So it's pretty good, and mostly a lot of fun to watch. The plot driver in the beginning is Tracy's quest to satisfy her aspirations for self-expression and acceptance. In the latter half, it switches over to a civil rights struggle, as Velma von Tussle is revealed to be not only snooty, but also an open racist. She's easily defeated in the end by plucky Tracy and her black and white allies, unified in their love of music and dance. This part is treated ham-handedly enough to make my cynical side bubble up: "And that's why we don't have any racial problems in this country any more, kids."


Last Modified 2012-10-15 10:59 AM EDT

News of the Present and Near Future

January 7, 2008

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Sen. John Sununu may get a good word from the Bloomberg News service. During the weekend he saved the agency's executive editor with the Heimlich maneuver.

A piece of chicken got stuck in journalist Al Hunt's windpipe Friday night at a Manchester restaurant. Sununu jumped up, put his arms around Hunt and popped the chicken out with the maneuver.

Hunt and Sununu were sitting next to each other at the Hanover Street Chop House in downtown Manchester.


January 12, 2008

DERRY, N.H. — Ex-New Hampshire Governor Jeanne Shaheen may receive unusually favorable coverage from the local television station, WMUR, after saving reporter Kria Sakakeeny and her family from an early-morning blaze at their home in Derry.

Governor Shaheen was driving by the home at approximately 2am Friday morning, and noticed flames and smoke coming from one of the home's first floor windows. While calling the Derry Fire Department on her cell phone, she rushed into the home to rouse the sleeping inhabitants.

"We barely made it out in time," said Sakakeeny. "Governor Shaheen also managed to save our two cats, and our gerbil, George." The family and their pets watched from across the street with Shaheen as their house was destroyed.

Governor Shaheen is currently running for the U.S. Senate seat held by John Sununu.


January 20, 2008

WOLFEBORO, N. H. — Sen. John Sununu defused a possible hostage situation at a TD Banknorth branch on Saturday morning, possibly saving the lives of approximately 14 customers and 5 bank employees.

According to the branch manager, Irving Bluecanoe, Senator Sununu was in line with other customers for a routine transaction when two men entered with ski masks over their faces, waving automatic pistols. Bluecanoe immediately triggered the silent alarm to summon police, but was then ordered to lie down on the floor with the other customers and employees as the alleged robbers proceeded to empty the vault and tellers' cash drawers.

When police arrived outside, the alleged robbers became agitated, threatening "to blow everyone away," Bluecanoe said. But Sununu took advantage of the confusion to quickly overpower one alleged robber, disarming him. As the second gunman attempted to use bank teller Melanie Onomatopoeia as a human sheild, Sununu shot him in the thigh, disabling him; Ms. Onomatopoeia then confiscated the weapon.

Police entered the bank shortly afterward, taking the two suspects into custody. They are expected to be arraigned later this week at the Carroll County Courthouse in Ossipee.

Senator Sununu is facing a tough election challenge later this year from ex-Governor Jeanne Shaheen. According to Onomatopoeia, "He's got my vote!"


January 25, 2008

FRANKLIN, N. H. — Tragedy was narrowly averted yesterday as ex-Governor Jeanne Shaheen brought a runaway schoolbus under control, almost certainly saving the lives of 26 pupils attending the Paul Smith School in Franklin.

The bus driver, Otto Mann, lapsed into a semi-conscious state while driving down a hilly back road approximately 5 miles west of town around 7:30am. Governor Shaheen and her husband, Billy, noticed the bus veering erratically, barely averting collisions with vehicles and trees.

"We noticed the kids crying and screaming at the windows," Mr. Shaheen said afterwards. "I mean, more than usual."

At the ex-Governor's direction, Mr. Shaheen maneuvered their vehicle next to the school bus, matching its speed of approximately 35 MPH. Ms. Shaheen then climbed out of her passenger-side window, and waved for one of the students, 6-year-old Kristin Abboud, to open one of the bus's windows. Ms. Shaheen then jumped the intervening space between the vehicles, climbed through the moving bus's window, removed Mr. Mann from the driver's seat, and brought the bus under control. She arrived at the Paul Smith School a few minutes later, after leading the children in a few calming verses of "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round".

Also saved from almost certain death: five chocolate lab puppies that Ms. Abboud was bringing to school for show-and-tell.

Said Ms. Abboud: "I'm going to tell Mommy and Daddy to vote for Jeanne!" Governor Shaheen is currently running for the U.S. Senate seat held by John Sununu.

Otto Mann was arraigned later yesterday at the Merrimack County Courthouse in Concord for posession of a controlled substance and reckless driving charges. He was unavailable for comment.


January 30, 2008

SEABROOK, N. H. — An apparent attempt by an group of alleged international terrorists to take over Seabrook Station's nuclear power plant was averted yesterday, primarily due to the quick thinking and effective action of U. S. Senator John Sununu.

Sununu was on a routine VIP tour of the plant with press and other public officials. As the tour group approached the plant's main control room, Sununu noticed that some press members of the group were acting "edgy" and handling their video equipment in an unusual manner.

When Sununu confronted the apparent "leader" of the group, the members quickly dropped their charade, drawing weapons hidden in their counterfeit video equipment and engaging in a firefight with plant security personnel, killing three and wounding one.

Sununu realized that the group had to be stopped from reaching the plant's control room at all costs. He regrouped the surviving security personnel, and devised a plan to defend the control room.

"He totally took charge," said Dudley D. Wright, one of the surviving guards. "One of the new guys, Lester, was cowering in the corner. Sununu slapped him and told him to 'man up.' Lester was all right after that, until he got shot later."

Things were looking grim, until Sununu improvised an ingenious booby trap involving release of highly radioactive steam into the alleged terrorist band as they made their final assault. The situation was brought under control shortly before the arrival of the state anti-terrorist unit.

The severely burned and radioactive surviving terrorists are expected to be arraigned today in Rockingham County Courthouse in Brentwood.

It is not known what the group's plans were, had they succeeded in gaining control of the plant. But a search of their vehicles revealed DVDs of The China Syndrome and K19: The Widowmaker, both which contained plot elements of nuclear reactor meltdowns.

Senator Sununu is facing a tough election challenge later this year from ex-Governor Jeanne Shaheen.


February 5, 2008

LEBANON, N. H. — An invasion of earth by hostile extraterrestrial aliens was defeated yesterday, thanks mostly to the impromptu efforts of New Hampshire ex-Governor Jeanne Shaheen.

The aliens' battlecraft entered the atmosphere somewhere north of Montreal, Quebec, which is in Canada, a country north of the United States. Leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake, the craft was apparently on a course for the major U. S. metropolitan centers of Washington, New York, Boston, and Peterborough NH. Efforts by US Air Force F-22 and F-117A fighters to stop the alien ship were apparently easily thwarted by the extraterrestrial's superior technology. Local residents reported hearing mocking alien laughter on their radios as the Air Force fighters were destroyed in spectacular explosions.

Governor Shaheen, making a campaign stop in Lebanon, requested to be driven to the Lebanon Municipal Airport. There, she commandeered a Cessna 172 aircraft and quickly took off on an intercept course for the alien vessel.

Reports indicate that Shaheen's initial plans were to ram the alien ship, perhaps inflicting fatal damage. Instead, she decided to land her Cessna on top of the huge ship. Observers listening to her plucky chatter on their aviation-band radios heard her remark, "This should be pretty much the same as it is in Microsoft Flight Simulator." Shaheen then climbed out of her plane, found an unlocked access hatch to the interior of the craft, surprised the aliens in their ship's control room, and forced the ship to land back at the Lebanon airstrip.

"I guess the aliens weren't expecting that kind of attack," said Shaheen's husband, Billy, in a post-invasion interview. "My wife is not particularly big or strong, but it turned out that, without their weapons, the aliens were no match for her. She took some Tae Kwon Do classes a few years ago."

Scientists at nearby Dartmouth College eagerly examined the craft for the secrets of the alien technology. Said Professor J. Michael Collins, "I think we've figured out their warp drive. Turns out it's not that tough."

The surviving aliens will be arraigned later today at the Grafton County Courthouse in North Haverhill.

Governor Shaheen is currently running for the U.S. Senate seat held by John Sununu.


February 10, 2008

WASHINGTON, D. C. — Senator John Sununu today announced his resignation from the United States Senate. His letter of resignation was tersely worded: "I give up." There was speculation on his motives, but no authoritative further information.

New Hampshire Governor John Lynch is expected to name ex-Governor Jeanne Shaheen to fill out the remainder of Sununu's term later today. She is currently running for that seat.

In My Humble Opinion …

… you—yes, you—should check out this post at America's North Shore Journal and do the right thing clickwise.


Last Modified 2008-01-10 7:38 PM EST

URLs du Jour

2008-01-10

  • Language Logger Mark Liberman applies the same Google-hit methodology for "crazy uncle" that we do for "phony". Which presidential candidate is the craziest uncle? I bet you can guess correctly before you click over there.

  • Speaking of crazy uncles, by the way, I was never seduced by the Ron Paul Revolution. So I'm not wounded by revelations (brought to light in a New Republic article) that his old newsletter was filled with unhealthy doses of bigotry and paranoia. (And not the wacky charming variety of bigotry and paranoia espoused by my crazy uncle.)

    But Virginia Postrel has a good point: why did the current staff of Reason magazine plop Paul on their magazine's cover and write an uncritical and superficial article about him? Why do I have to read this at the New Republic?

    Virginia also has one of the best lines about another ex-Paul supporter:

    As for Andrew Sullivan, his political infatuations are not his strong point as a commentator.
    Nor are his hatreds.

  • But the best line I saw was from Washington Post genius journalist and blogger Joel Achenbach, recovering from his stint covering the primary:
    In retrospect, I regret posting that item about Obama turning water to wine.
    Idolatry: it happens to the best of us.

  • But—wait a minute— the absolute best paragraph I saw was from Prof Althouse in her provocatively titled post: " Now, why should we read all the articles about why everyone was wrong about New Hampshire?"
    The reason there's this subject at all is because they were wrong before, so why should I care what they say now. This punditry is an absurd racket. First, they get to make mistakes — scribble, scribble, scribble, making mistakes. And then, that's their raw material for a whole new set of articles. They can look at anything that has already happened and purport to say why it happened. And who's to say they're wrong, since it happened and they've come up with reasons? But when it hasn't happened yet, and they exercise their facility to come up with reasons for things, it's embarrassing when the thing doesn't happen. Unchastened, they keep writing. They have to. They're pundits.
    That's only about half. Go read the rest.

NH Primary Thoughts

Well, I'm certainly glad I didn't make predictions here at Pun Salad. Why should there be any more egg on my face than absolutely necessary?

I did, however, make the mistake of predicting at the dinner table last night that Obama would clean Hillary's clock. In which I was merely echoing the conventional wisdom, more fool I. Had anyone asked, I was also confident that the McCain/Romney race was a squeaker. Fortunately, nobody did.

Pun Daughter, of course, is DEVASTATED that Obama didn't win. Her feelings toward him were unchanged since last February.

She was also DEVASTATED that I voted for Fred Thompson.

I was not DEVASTATED, however, at Fred's puny showing. He might have done better if he'd started earlier and spent more time up here, but … he didn't, so who knows?

The other voter, Mrs. Salad, is also a Democrat, and she refused to tell me for whom she voted, although she narrowed it down to one of the top three. No doubt her reticence is due to my obnoxious comments during their TV ads.

I suspect, though, that she went for Hillary. Because of the crying.

I watched very little election coverage, so I have only a couple of non-comprehensive impressions:

  • I couldn't help but notice that the local TV station's coverage of John McCain's victory was ultrafawning. The correspondent at the McCain headquarters, Kria Sakakeeny, presented his comeback as not merely impressive (which it was), but the victory of hard work, straight talking honesty, and courage against his lazy phony lying weasel opponents. Please.

  • I also watched Kucinich's post-election speech. Ohmigod, the man's a yellin' lunatic demagogue. I don't make these comparisons lightly, but to me, he seems positively Hitleresque; judge for yourself.

    There's also amusing footage at the end of Dennis standing on tippytoes to smooch his much taller wife Elizabeth. After the scary part comes the comic relief.

Final factoid: the previous winner of a seriously contested NH Primary Democrat-side race who went on to win the presidency was: Jimmy Carter, 32 years ago. Since then, winning a contested New Hampshire Primary has been more of a curse; just ask Presidents Kerry, Gore, Tsongas, Dukakis, and Hart. Can Hillary beat that losing streak? ("I hope not!")

The equivalent factoid on the GOP side: George H. W. Bush, 20 years ago.

Hm. And you guys wanted to win this because … ?

Anyway, to the rest of the world: thanks for dropping by, see you in another four years or so.

The Phony Campaign

NH Primary Day Update

Well, it's primary day, finally. If Google is any guide, the candidates have become slightly less phony over the past week:

Query StringHit CountChange Since
2008-01-01
"Ron Paul" phony214,000-18,000
"Hillary Clinton" phony210,000-19,000
"John Edwards" phony176,000-16,000
"Barack Obama" phony170,000-14,000
"Fred Thompson" phony147,000-20,000
"Mitt Romney" phony143,000-17,000
"John McCain" phony141,000-12,000
"Mike Huckabee" phony129,000-4,000
"Rudy Giuliani" phony123,000-22,000
"Dennis Kucinich" phony82,800-7,000

  • The New York Times' most boring columnist writes from Derry, NH on our meme:
    If there is a theme running through the nominating process of both parties, it's the idea that voters are fed up with the con, with the phony, plastic, programmed politicians who are obsessed with power and contemptuous of the real concerns of ordinary men and women.
    To which we say: oh, yeah? We can think of at least three candidates who'd be a lot further down in the polls if that were true.

    But we also think: if you're going to accuse someone of being "contemptuous of the real concerns of ordinary men and women," we'd like names named, and evidence provided. Otherwise, it's just another empty column-filling nebulous accusation, and it's boring, Bob.

  • But we're also put in mind of Jonah Goldberg's quip about what Mitt Romney seems to be saying if you hit the mute button while watching him on TV: What do I have to do to put you in this BMW today?

  • But what about Hillary? We can reliably report that even people who don't usually follow politics were discussing her tear-up yesterday. Ann Althouse has the video if you haven't caught the continuous feeds of it on CNN or Fox. But the good professor suspects…
    Is it a phony effort to get your sympathy? (Seems like a bad move.) Is she just really tired? Or was it really something about about the questioner's expression of sympathy — how do you do it? — that brought out a truly vulnerable side? I don't know. But it seems a little like the feminine gesture she made at the debate when she said the her feelings were hurt. I think someone — an excellent actress? — is coaching her in how to display womanly emotion.
    We've quoted Jean Giraudoux on this topic before: "The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made."

  • The Times also reports this morning on what the young people are up to in the campaign. 19-year-old James Nance is a student at George Mason, but is a recent "political tourist" in New Hampshire.
    "Kids are the best at telling who's a liar, who's phony," Mr. Nance said. "[Obama] really inspires me to stand up and fight. There's something different about him, you know."
    Hey, I remember seeing that sort of quote before! … When was it? … Oh, I remember: it was forty years ago and my generation was saying it about ourselves.

    Callow: it's in the dictionary for a reason, James.

  • We've never followed asterisk-polling Mike Gravel in our phony rankings. And in fact, his name has never once graced this blog in its entire lifetime. But he talked to a Yale Daily News reporter in Exeter on Sunday, and he sounds a bit bitter:
    "A lot of young people, they're sophomoric, and they haven't really thought very much," he said in an exclusive interview with the News. "And so they're into celebrity. These are the people that follow Paris Hilton and Britney Spears — and they follow Obama."
    Damn pesky kids! He's none too impressed with the "change" rhetoric:
    "It's as phony as a nine-dollar bill," says Gravel, a former Democratic senator from Alaska. "They took focus groups, and the focus groups said that people want change. Are they talking change, other than articulating the world?"
    Probably that last word should be "word". But lest you think Senator Gravel is unusually honest and straightforward:
    The former senator — who was not allowed to participate in ABC's Democratic debate on Saturday night — vowed that he will stay in the race regardless of his performance today. But he said he hopes to get five to ten percent of the vote.
    ... "demonstrating that Senator Gravel's either totally delusional or pretty phony himself."


Last Modified 2014-12-01 10:17 AM EST

URLs du Jour

2008-01-07

  • Excellent essay from Janice Brown at Cow Hampshire, describing how post-9/11 "security" measures made it more difficult for genealogists to obtain access to vital records.

    You might say, if you're not a genealogist, "who cares?" But Janice shows how (a) this also makes your own life more difficult; (b) is almost certainly ineffective at curtailing identity theft by bad guys.

    It reminds me of the very old joke:

    A man sees a drunk, down on his knees groping around in the dirt. "What are you looking for?" asks the man. "My keys," replies the drunk. The man kneels down to help search. "Are you sure you lost them in this vicinity?" asks the man. "No, I lost them two blocks down that way," says the drunk. "Then, why are you looking here?" asks the man. "Because," answers the drunk, "the light is better here."`
    Ineffective security measures that hassle large numbers of average joes and janes (and janices) are designed by adherents to the drunk's search algorithm.

    There are a number of people that look skeptically at security measures, like Bruce Schneier and Jim Harper, but this is the first I'd heard about the genealogy angle.

  • Here is Pajiba's list of 12 Best Films You Didn't See in 2007. I'd seen two, which impressed me enough with Pajiba's judgment that I added the remainder to my Blockbuster queue. (Via Galley Slaves.)

  • No Dick Harpootlian news from Dave Barry today, but he continues to be amazed at Granite State foibles. Reporting from a Romney event:
    Also at the event was U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, who is a Romney supporter. Greenfield and I were complaining to him about how the New Hampshire hotels jack up their prices for the primaries. For example: I'm staying at a hotel -- let's call it a ''Foliday Finn'' -- that is normally not expensive, but this week is charging me (I mention this for the benefit of the person who will be processing my expense report) a special primary rate of $17 million per night for my room, plus a dollar for a small bag of Cheez-Its that will barely get you half a mile under highway conditions.

    Sen. Gregg was not moved by Greenfield's and my complaints. His response was, quote, ''Make sure you stop at the liquor store before you leave.'' New Hampshire makes bales of money from state-run liquor stores. One of them is located -- I am not making this up -- in a turnpike service plaza, apparently for the benefit of motorists who are, for whatever reason, running low on gin.

    Senator Gregg has a sense of humor! Who knew?

URLs du Jour

2008-01-06

  • George Will has a must read, taking on two of our favorite candidatess:
    Although Huckabee and Edwards profess to loathe and vow to change Washington's culture, each would aggravate its toxicity. Each overflows with and wallows in the pugnacity of the self-righteous who discern contemptible motives behind all disagreements with them and who therefore think that opponents are enemies and differences are unsplittable.
  • In the meantime, Scott Johnson at Power Line spots Huckabee circulating a bogus quote from Abe Lincoln, as Richard Nixon once did. This comes soon after he attributed a Godfather quote to Sun Tzu. What is it with this guy anyway?

  • Stephen Green watched last night's debates allegedly in the process of inebriation, but had it together enough to observe:
    Did you know that Hillary has experience? Experience with change? Change that only her experience, her experience with change, can bring about? And that she's a woman, a woman bringing change with her experience of womanness? Yeah, me neither.

  • Harvard economics prof Greg Mankiw listened to the Democrats debate while sober. (I mean, Professor Mankiw was sober. I think.) One candidate "demonstrates extraordinary ignorance (or perhaps extraordinary disingenuousness)"; one candidate "shows extraordinary clarity and honesty"; and one "offers some typical vacuous blather". Try to guess who was who. Hint: Edwards is none of the three, especially not the honest one.

  • Dave Barry's in New Hampshire, and unfortunately I've missed seeing him so far. Follow the saga of DICK HARPOOTLIAN (so far) here, here, and here. A sample:
    But those who watched the debates saw history in the making, as it became clear, over the course of the evening, that one person, and one person only, embodies the wisdom, the judgment, the maturity and -- yes -- the simple humanity that this nation desperately needs in its next president: Charlie Gibson.

    Unfortunately he can't afford the pay cut. This means we're stuck with the actual candidates, who, as I say, are in a testy mood, as was evidenced in the Republican debate when John McCain and Mike Huckabee, during a particularly testy exchange over illegal immigration, gave Mitt Romney a wedgie. The Democrats, meanwhile, continued their ongoing obsessive argument about change -- who is the most for change; who has done the most changing; who can change with the changing times to bring change to those who need a change; who has taken the time, with all this tromping around New Hampshire night and day demanding change, to change their underwear; etc.

    Just a couple days to go, guys. We'll make it. Probably.


Last Modified 2008-01-06 7:45 PM EST

Right-Wingers Silence Bill Clinton!

Well, that's what Kathryn Jean Lopez claimed anyway. National Review Online's "Right Night" event at Manchester, New Hampshire's Radisson was held in a room adjacent to a room containing a Clinton rally, at which the former president spoke. Kathryn—I call her Kathryn—made a brief visit to the other side, and reported, on her return, that Bill Clinton had to pause his speech during one of our room's outbreaks of applause and laughter.

But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. I drove over to Manchester late yesterday afternoon. Traffic in the Queen City was worse than usual, and that's saying something. Many, many people were out and about doing campaign-y type things. Every snowbank, it seemed, had sprouted an infestation of "X for President" signs.

[The purpose of which I have never quite got, by the way. Has anyone done research on the efficacy of campaign signs? Are people more likely to vote for Dennis Kucinich if they see ten signs for him, spaced two feet apart, on the onramp to the Route 4 bypass? "Ah, no, I was gonna vote Kucinich, but I went with Obama, since I saw twelve signs for him in a single snowbank on my way to the dump on Saturday." Does that happen? Maybe it does, I dunno.]

But I eventually made my way through to one of the last spots in a handy parking garage, and finally found the event. By the time I got there, it was standing room only, though. So I stood.

The event was sponsored by the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack. A college official (didn't catch his name) gave a lengthy intro to the three raconteur/panelists from National Review, Jonah Goldberg, Rob Long, and Mark Steyn. Anybody who's read these guys knows that they can be, and usually are, very funny and insightful. Fortunately, they were pretty good in person too. (I was going to say they were good "on their feet", but they actually had some comfy chairs to sit in.)

So for a couple hours they talked, unstructured, riffing off each other. It was very entertaining; I was going to take some notes and report some "good stuff", but standing made that more difficult. Also, there was free food. Including nature's most perfect food, which is the bacon-wrapped scallop on a toothpick. (I'm grateful to the hosts, although my arteries might differ.)

One bit of controversy erupted when they took questions from the floor. A guy who had been reading NR since the sixties—about as long as I have, in other words—said he'd admired Bill Buckley's position against "Caesarism" back then, and excoriated the current magazine staff for its complacency about the same thing today under Dubya; specifically, he was exercised about the legal (or, as he claimed, extralegal) treatment of "enemy combatants".

That's not a totally wacky position; certainly a number of folks at Cato would have been in sympathy. But the questioner overdid it, rantwise; Long, Goldberg, and (especially) Steyn countered his heated rhetoric with reasonableness leavened with a bit of humor, and the overwhelming majority of the crowd weren't sympathetic to this point of view either.

Anyway, it was too soon over. I got to speak to several people of note. I've been a Shawn Macomber fan for years now, we've corresponded in e-mail, and I finally got to meet him in person. I complimented him on his great article in the current issue of Reason on the oppressive atmosphere on Liberty Island; it's not on the web yet, but I'll link when it is. (If you can't wait, subscribe.)

Skip Murphy of GraniteGrok was there, as was Patrick Hynes of Ankle-Biting Pundits (and author of In Defense of the Religious Right).

I was also able to muscle my way to speak briefly with Jonah Goldberg. I mention that I'd had his book (Liberal Fascism) on order at Amazon since October of 2005. He seemed a little sheepish at this, but graciously thanked me anyway. Amazon promises it's coming this week, I'll believe it when I see it.

I'm also pretty sure I saw, but was to shy to speak to, Mickey Kaus (of Kausfiles fame). I woulda shoulda coulda told him that I enjoyed his book The End of Equality, and that our current political discourse on the topic is poorer to the extent that it didn't make a bigger impact. (Not that I bought into all of his policy recommendations, but they weren't The Same Old Eat the Rich Same Old.)

Certainly there were some other famous folks there I did not recognize. Maybe that was Ramesh Ponnuru? Probably, but how can you ask that diplomatically?

Also, on my way out, I noted—really—Tim Russert hastening the other direction down a hallway, cellphone clamped to his ear. I smiled in recognition. And even though this only took at most a couple of seconds, I could tell he was totally accustomed to being recognized in public; he smiled back and gave a nod that said: "Yes, I am that guy on TV; thanks for acknowledging that, but please don't try to engage me."

I hope he was able to interpret my nod equally as well: "Wouldn't think of it, Tim. Just going home. Too bad about the Bills."


Last Modified 2008-01-06 9:34 AM EST

URLs du Jour

2008-01-05

  • Important political news: No matter where you live, you can vote in New Hampshire Tuesday.

    As long as it's for "top cat", a new mascot for the Mount Washington Observatory. Your choices: Marty, Sarah, or Wilson. They are in the running to replace Nin, the previous holder of the position for the past 12 years.

    Please note: All three contenders have great hair, attend church, hold law degrees, value values, tout affordable vet care, and oppose recreational drug-use (unless it is catnip). All three claim to have been raised by poor, humble yam-farmers who worked their tails off just to put Meow Mix on the table. However, that claim has yet to be confirmed.
    (Via a dog-eared town.)

  • Many bloggers are commenting on the rude behavior of New Hampshire Democrats toward Senator Hillary Clinton at the party's "100 Club" dinner in Milford; they booed her. Jonathan V. Last has a more complete report on the goings on; shortly before the boos, they were cheering Dennis Kucinich's call for holding George Bush and Dick Cheney accountable for "war crimes" and (superfluously, I guess) also for impeaching them. But I found this sort of poignant:
    Bill Richardson follows Clinton. His speech is filled with substance and policy details. No one pays much attention. Guests mill about, making for the bathrooms. Somewhere, Horatio Sanz cries; to him, a Richardson presidency would have been worth millions.

  • Speaking of my brother Horatio, the Onion A. V. Club has an interview with him here.

  • I plan to be in Manchester tonight at the NRO shindig. I'm a total Jonah Goldberg/Mark Steyn/Rob Long groupie, so I'll be in right-wing fanboy heaven. If you're there too, be sure to say hi. If you don't recognize me from my picture over there on the right—no, your right—I'll be wearing my "Goldwater for President" and "Don't let THEM immanentize the Eschaton" buttons.

    (That last one is explained here; this writer explains the National Review connection, and he seems to think that the current NR editorial crop will shrink from its mighty truth like vampires confronted with a crucifix. We'll see.)

    I'll don't plan on liveblogging, but I'll try to get something up on the event later today or early tomorrow.


Last Modified 2008-01-05 9:56 AM EST

URLs du Jour

2008-01-02

  • Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the Lake Superior State University 2008 List of Banished Words: words (and actually phrases too) that have outlived their usefulness. Example, with comments:
    RANDOM — Popular with teenagers in many places.

    "Over-used and usually out of context, i.e. 'You are so random!' Really? Random is supposed to mean 'by chance.' So what I said was by chance, and not by choice?" — Gabriel Brandel, Farmington Hills, Michigan.

    "Outrageous mis- and overuse, mostly by teenagers, i.e. 'This random guy, singing this random song … It was so random.' Grrrrr." — Leigh, Duncan, Galway, Ireland.

    "Overuse on a massive scale by my fellow youth. Every event, activity and person can be 'sooo random' as of late. Banish it before I go vigilante." — Ben Martin, Adelaide, South Australia.

    "How can a person be random?" — Emma Halpin, Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom.

    Actually, I remember "random" being used, and overused, back in my college days. As in: "A random B&G [Buildings and Grounds] troll [employee] was outside my window with a lawnmower at 7am! Bogus! [Unfortunate!]"

    That was over 35 years ago. Nice to see it caught on.

    We were also heavy abusers of the word "dude" back then, also mainstreamed since.

  • Winston Churchill once said: "A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject." The Edge Foundation gathered together the responses of a whole bunch of non-fanatics to the question: What have you changed your mind about?

    It's a rich source for browsers of Big Thoughts, but my favorite (so far) is from that old hippie, Stewart Brand: Good Old Stuff Sucks.

    What have I changed my mind about? Ummmm… I'll get back to you on that.

  • Need a reason to live? Check out the upcoming movies of 2008. Batman, Indiana Jones, Iron Man, James Bond, Rambo, Wall-E. And on Christmas Day, 2008: James T. Kirk.

    There might be stuff for more adult tastes as well.


Last Modified 2012-10-15 11:05 AM EDT

The Phony Campaign

2008-01-01 Update

It's a brand new year, and you'll be happy to know that you will continue to see frivolous and lazy political analysis from Pun Salad, very similar to that you can obtain nearly anywhere else.

The Pun Salad Difference: we're kind of up front about it. No predictions, no endorsements, no micro-dissections of the latest polling data, no effort to get the opinions of the masses, no jumping on the gaffes of our least favorite candidates. Well, unless that catches our fancy.

But we can google with the best of 'em. Let's see how our candidates are playing, phony-wise.

Query StringHit CountChange Since
2007-12-26
"Ron Paul" phony232,0000
"Hillary Clinton" phony229,000+6,000
"John Edwards" phony192,000+7,000
"Barack Obama" phony184,000-4,000
"Fred Thompson" phony167,000+3,000
"Mitt Romney" phony160,0000
"John McCain" phony153,000-1,000
"Rudy Giuliani" phony145,000-4,000
"Mike Huckabee" phony133,000+5,000
"Dennis Kucinich" phony89,800-59,200

Ron Paul still leads, although Hillary is creeping up on him. And John Edwards, our favorite, has moved into third place over Obama. In recent phony news:

  • Our friend Doug at Granite Grok discusses the foreign policy pronouncements of Mike Huckabee, noting a recent story issued by the Iranian news agency FARS. Saith FARS, approvingly:

    In many points [Huckabee's] message on Iran is more akin to that of the Democrats: there is a need for dialogue with Iran, and more diplomacy is needed. He quoted the Chinese strategist Sun Tzu, who authored The Art of War 2,500 years ago: "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."

    Doug isn't impressed that Huck is being perceived as taking up Democrat talking points here; he notes that "happens to play right into the 'Huck is a phoney conservative' meme that has gained traction with each passing day of scrutiny."

    We, of course, continue to be impressed with the gullibility of the MSM, even the Iranian MSM, who hasn't yet heard that Huckabee's "Sun Tzu" quote is a phony, actually from The Godfather Part II, voiced by Michael Corleone.

    I'm not sure a foreign policy guided by pithy one-liners from Francis Ford Copplola would be better or worse than one guided by pithy one-liners from Sun Tzu. Like Doug, I'm hoping we don't have to find out.

  • We haven't, so far, tracked phony hits for alleged candidate Bill Richardson. But Sean Higgins, reviewing Bill's campaign book for the American Spectator, detects real phony potential. Richardson's book is titled Leading by Example; it's pretty much the usual liberal line about energy and the environment, and offers up the usual liberal "solutions" of regulations, efficiency mandates, subsidies, taxes, etc. Sean notes:

    He grants the occasional exception to this rule, though: "I personally like a sport utility vehicle. I'm a big guy and I don't fit really well in smaller cars. I usually travel with security agents and staff. For a while we used the largest hybrid we could find, an Escape that Ford executives bent over backward to get for me in a tight market a few years ago."

    Unfortunately, that vehicle "turned out to be too small for me, my state security staff, and for one or two of my people, so now we use larger SUVs that can hold more people."

    In case you missed it, I repeat: the book's title is Leading by Example.

  • But our phony gem du jour comes from John McCain. I noted a new anti-Romney ad from McCain last night, which quoted from the famed "unendorsement" editorial from the Concord Monitor.

    The Concord Monitor writes, "If a candidate is a phony ... we'll know it."

    "Mitt Romney is such a candidate."

    Fine, that is (indeed) what they said. But Dean Barnett noted a ludicrous moment in a Sunday interview show:

    Appearing on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, John McCain also visibly tensed up when asked about Romney. Stephanopoulos mentioned McCain's latest ad which makes great sport of citing the Concord Monitor's proclamation that Mitt Romney is a phony. Stephanopoulos played some footage of Romney waxing indignant over the ad, and then asked McCain for his response.

    "Welcome to the arena," McCain snickered. "I didn't say those words. Those were the Concord Monitor's words."

    "Well wait a second," Stephanopoulos interrupted. "You paid for people to see those words calling him a phony. Do you think he's a phony?"

    McCain: "I paid for the ad to put up the words of the respected newspapers here in the state of New Hampshire and I think that's perfectly appropriate. Look, we're not going to get in a back and forth with Mitt Romney. We're going on with our campaign. I'm talking about the future ... We're moving on ... Frankly the voters of New Hampshire don't like this kind of negative campaigning, and they reject his negative ads."

    Stephanopoulos: "So you think he's a phony or you don't?"

    McCain: "No, I think he's a person who's changed his positions on many issues and the voters know that and they'll decide that, and I'll continue to quote from respected newspapers if necessary."

    Congratulations, Senator McCain. That's a really phony reply.


Last Modified 2014-12-01 10:16 AM EST