URLs du Jour


  • Betsy Newmark quotes an insightful column from James Pethokoukis:
    There are at least two pretty effective ways to turn someone into a Republican: (1) get them married with kids and (2) get them to invest in the stock market. So, if I were a highly paid Democratic political strategist, I would make sure to spend a few minutes every day thinking of ways to get Americans out of the stock market—the faster, the better. And that's why if Barack Obama is elected president next week, 2009 may well bring a concerted and all-out effort by the Obama administration and a Democratically dominated Congress to turn the generally pro-Republican Investor Class into an endangered class by, among other tactics, raising investment taxes and ending the tax preferences for 401(k)'s, IRAs, and other retirement accounts.
    It's a continuing theme: Democrats benefit from making large swaths of the electorate helplessly dependent on state handouts and "services". Pun Salad agrees with Betsy:
    Don't say you weren't warned.

  • Iowahawk turns his blog over to T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII, wherein Cod reveals why he's going with The One:
    When my late father T. Coddington Van Voorhees VI founded the iconoclastic conservative journal National Topsider in 1948, he famously declared that "Now is the time for all good conservative helmsmen to hoist the mizzen, pour the cocktails, and steer this damned schooner hard starboard." In the 60 years since he first uttered it after one-too-many Cosmopolitans at one of Pamela Harriman's notorious foreign policy black tie balls, father's pithy bon mot has served as a rallying cry for conservatives from Greenwich to Chevy Chase. Today, I say it's time for we conservatives to once again grab the rigging and set sail with the flotilla of the true conservative in this race: Barack Obama.
    So there you go.

  • An abbreviated Rochester (NH) Police Log this week.
    Wednesday, Oct. 15

    3:12 p.m. — On Winter Street by Fisher fields, two boys battle, neither yields. But a crowd and both the bruisers, disappear before the cruisers.

    Burma Shave.

It's Hard Out There For a Libertarian

I like Clayton Cramer's sixteen-word description of his political position:

Broadly speaking, I'm a conservative with libertarian sympathies (getting more conservative as my children get older).
That's pretty close to where I am, although I might go for "libertarian with conservative sympathies" instead. So I find conservative/libertarian takes on the election interesting. A collection of links to such follows:
  • Here is the roundup from The American Conservative. They tend to be a little more "out there". Obama wins 5 of their 18 votes; "not voting" comes in second with 4, followed by McCain (3 votes), Chuck Baldwin (2), Barr (2), and one write-in each for Ron Paul and Ward Connerly. (You will have to click around to find out who the hell Chuck Baldwin is, because I have not the slightest.)

  • Ryan Sager at Reason vents his spleen on the McCain campaign and the entire current GOP:
    Two years ago, I wrote a book imploring the Republican Party not to follow its worst elements off a cliff—not to evolve, in short, into an insular party with little-to-no appeal outside of the rural, the southern, the Evangelical. As the McCain campaign flames out in a ball of Rovian disgrace, scorching the center in an attempt to fire up the base, it's difficult to reach any other conclusion than that the battle for the soul of the Republican Party has been lost.
    Sager makes arguments that I don't find particularly compelling (Palin is icky, McCain is "divisive", his supporters are troglodytes—the usual.) I think he's mainly mad because his book went nowhere, though.

  • Reason is probably the premiere libertarian-ish magazine; they polled a bunch of their associates here. It's a fun read, but if you just want the raw numbers (and I don't promise to have counted all those hanging chads correctly): Obama wins there with 13 votes, followed by Barr with 11. "Nobody/No Answer" got 10, McCain 3, "Anybody but McCain/Palin" got one, and Sarah all by herself got one.

    I enjoyed Michael Shermer's answer most:

    I’m voting Democrat because I think lawyers should run the country, because the last two years under their control has gone so well, because the government has done such a great job with FEMA that they should also be in charge of our school choices, health care choices, and retirement choices, because they protect me from crime so well that I don’t need a gun, because I want to pay more taxes (especially Capital Gains), because unions need to be stronger against evil corporations, because trade with foreign corporations is anti-American and we need to protect American jobs, and mostly because I’m tired of having so many choices and want someone else to make them for me.
    So for libertarians looking for an excuse to vote Democrat: there you go.

  • Todd Zywicki at the Volokh Conspiracy quotes someone with whom I'm usually in tune:
    Thomas Sowell described the choice the other day as "a choice between disaster and catastrophe" which doesn't seem that far off for someone who believes in limited government and individual liberty.
    Indeed! Nevertheless, Todd puts forth a decent argument to go with catastrophe in preference to disaster. Or maybe vice-versa.

  • Also at Volokh, Jonathan Adler puts in a very grudging, very hedged, vote for McCain.

  • And finally, Tom Smith of the Right Coast pulls a fast one and announces for Obama. Conclusion:
    Some may say, and you call yourself a libertarian. But I have decided I can be a kind of statist, big government, expansive regulation, high taxing, low investing, industrial policy, aggressive PC enforcing sort of libertarian. If you look at libertarians for Obama, I would hardly be the first. Besides, I never listen to Rush anymore and Fox I could even do without. I have hundreds of books in my library I have yet to read, and this would give me the chance. All that conflict in the media is a huge time suck anyway.

    So think of it as kind of the rather bearable lightness of being for Obama. It's not so bad really. It feels kind of like when you wake up in the morning and your mind is kind of blank, but in a peaceful sort of way. Rather nice, really. You know, healing.

    In conclusion, I would like, instead of saying God Bless America, which is divisive, to wish everyone a really nice next four to whatever years. (If anyone connected with the forthcoming government is reading this post, and would would like an address to send my money to, please just email me and I will let you know.)

    Tom Smith, meet Michael Shermer.

Last Modified 2010-05-05 12:30 PM EST

URLs du Jour


It's one of those days when I am perturbed by the same things that are perturbing everyone else, and I don't have that much to add.

  • The Obama campaign is airing a TV ad that misrepresents the views of the Heritage Foundation.

  • Multiple Ohio officials accessed government data, looking for dirt Joe "the Plumber" Wurzelbacher after he became a major sensation for daring to get Obama to utter his "spread the wealth" comment. This should be a dismissible, perhaps prosecutable, offense; but the Democrats in charge are saying: ho hum.

  • The Obama campaign is deliberately accepting untraceable donations.

  • Oh, and that tax cut you were expecting from an Obama administration? Don't spend that just yet.

  • Good luck getting electorate attention for any of this because the MSM is in the tank for Obama.

  • The Union Leader's Drew Cline does a masterful job in taking apart a Concord Monitor editorial bemoaning the falling—yes, falling—prices for oil and gasoline. Drew opines that the editorial "encapsulates the worldview of the far left".

But I know what I'll be doing at 8pm EDT tonight: watching Pushing Daisies. Might I recommend it to you? It's charming and offbeat.

Last Modified 2008-11-01 4:02 PM EST

URLs du Jour


  • If you'd like to spend some time checking out some (um…) unconventional thinking about whether Barack Obama is using covert hypnotic techniques in his speeches: a brief article from the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) website is here, which links to a 67-page unsigned PDF article from the "Freedom's Phoenix" website here. Sample from the AAPS article:
    Hand gestures can be used as hypnotic anchors, or to aid in hypnotic command implantation. They can be difficult to distinguish from innocent gestures used for emphasis. Obama, however, uses some gestures extraordinarily often and for very specific words such as “believe” and “chose.” His characteristic thumb-and-forefinger gesture looks like a hand holding a pencil—as if you were in a voting booth. The gesture of pointing sends the subconscious message that a person in authority is giving a command.
    I would wager that this is all lunacy. I came to it via Language Log, which points out that the AAPS is "ultra-conservative" (true enough). "Freedom's Phoenix" is even more fringy; as near as I can tell, it never saw a conspiracy theory it didn't like.

    However, you might also want to check this provocative post from Dilbert creator Scott Adams:

    Suppose you were a skilled hypnotist, and so charismatic that you knew you could change the opinion of an average person simply by your choice of words. Would it be ethical to be that persuasive?

    To make it interesting, let's say you believe in the rightness of your own views, and you are talking to someone who firmly believes the opposite. You both have the same information at your disposal, so it is simply a case of different opinions. If you knew you could sway that person with your words, without adding any new information to the mix, would it be ethical to do so?

    I encountered this dilemma after learning hypnosis. …

    So, hm. Even insanely conspiracy-obsessed squirrels can find a nut at times? I doubt it. But still…

  • I like Rich Lowry, but Margaret Soltan targets one of his recent articles as an amusing demonstration of why it's a good idea for writers to avoid picking items at random off the metaphor shelf.

    (Yes, those metaphors were intentional. Sorry.)

  • If you're looking for a web hosting provider, Patterico provides a domain-hijacking horror story that should be scary enough to send you fleeing in terror from 1&1. The charitable interpretation is that 1&1's service is shoddy and unprofessional.

    (Apparently they noticed that they were receiving quite a bit of attention from media and expedited Patterico's recovery of his domain.)

    Pun Salad has been hosted at Arias Web Hosting for a couple months now, and, other than a couple of brief DNS glitches, it's been fine.

  • My mom had a pet peeve: seeing signs of Christmas before Thanksgiving.

    Obviously, that was a long time ago.

    Now I'm starting to notice the early warning signs: the local church's "Holiday Fair" is this Saturday; magazines are sending us offers for gift subscriptions; inamongst the political ads on TV are pitches for toys and whipped cream.

    And the Onion's Doyle Redland reports that Christmas suicides are coming earlier every year.

URLs du Jour


  • Sad news: Dean Barnett has passed away. I only knew him through his blogging, initially at Soxblog, then over at Hugh Hewitt's, and finally the Weekly Standard. He was insightful and witty, and he will be missed.

  • The awesome Bill Whittle comments on the newly-discovered audio of Barack Obama expounding candidly on the redistribution of wealth to a Chicago public radio station in 2001. Mr. Whittle gets the coveted Pun Salad Read the Whole Thing Award for today.

    I'm thinking about programming one of my keys to enter the string

    You can't say you weren't warned

    when pressed. That will save a lot of time and keystrokes over the next four years or so.

  • Both David Boaz and Ann Althouse point out a fundamental problem for McCain pointing the "socialist" finger at Obama, however well-deserved. When you support the bailout, when you were against Bush's tax cuts because they were too tilted toward the "wealthiest Americans", when you're pressuring the government to buy troubled mortgages from homeowners… you're just not very credible or coherent on the "socialist" issue.

  • Or, for that matter, this.

  • If you're looking for political hagiography for your little one, Shawn Macomber mercilessly reviews Barack [Ages 4-8] and Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope [Ages 9-12]. As one Amazon reviewer puts it: they're also appropriate for middle-aged Democrats.

  • Need a laugh? Here you go.

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:06 PM EST

You Don't Mess with the Zohan

[Amazon Link]

stars] [IMDb Link]

I enjoyed this silly over-the-top movie quite a bit more than the critics did (34% Tomatometer) or the IMDB masses (5.7/10).

Adam Sandler plays the title character; he's an Israeli commando with semi-super powers: indestructibility, super-strength, and mad parkour skills. But he's tired of fighting Palestinian terrorists; when he captures them, they just get traded back for captured Israelis. And he's always had this dream of styling hair. So he fakes his own death, stows away on a New York-bound jet, and tries to make it in the mad world of the Manhattan beauty industry.

It kept me laughing all the way through, which is pretty good. Adam Sandler employs a lot of his buddies from Saturday Night Live in various-sized roles: Chris Rock, Kevin Nealon, Rob Schneider, Robert Smigel. Shelley Berman plays Zohan's father; I'm proud to say that I recognized him pretty quickly. He's 82, and IMDB says he's working pretty regularly. Good for him.

It might seem extra-tricky to have a comedy that touches on terrorism; Zohan deals with that by keeping the fantasy element high, not actually showing anyone getting killed, and pretending that all we need is for the politicians to get out of the way because us normal people can get along just fine, blah, blah, blah. This requires switching off certain brain functions for a bit; if you can manage that, you'll be fine.

But maybe we can all be brought together by Mariah Carey singing the national anthem at a Israel/Palestine hacky sack tournament. All I know is, it seemed plausible in the movie.

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:07 PM EST

The Phony Campaign

2008-10-26 Update

The penultimate update to our phony poll. (And when I say "penultimate", I mean: "I hope I'm using that word correctly.") Hit counts dropped for everyone this week—a frankly unwarranted development—and McCain's lead shrank even thinner:

Query StringHit CountChange Since
"John McCain" phony934,000-206,000
"Barack Obama" phony922,000-188,000
"Bob Barr" phony32,900-6,800

Our guest opinionator this week is Thomas Sowell, who actually opened a column with:

Telling a friend that the love of his life is a phony and dangerous is not likely to get him to change his mind. But it may cost you a friend.

I hope we haven't lost any friends.

  • David Freddoso reminds us of how Barack Obama's phony pledge to accept public matching funds led directly to the current epidemic of phony contributors with names like "Doodad Pro" and "Jgtj Jfggjjfgj."

    It may all seem like a minor point now — just an occasion for a bit of Republican whining as Obama’s attack ads dominate the airwaves thanks to his broken promise. After all, Obama has raised quite a bit of money. But his donations from fake donors evoke the fake promise he made on principle just months ago to restrict campaign spending and limit the influence of special interests.

    As Jim Geraghty used to tirelessly point out (before, I guess, he got tired): All statements by Barack Obama come with an expiration date. All of them.

  • One (continuing) source of frustration at Pun Salad Manor is the onslaught of TV campaign ads. Usually they're superficial, repetitive, ominous, and misleading. Which makes sense, since they are aimed at people who are easily swayed by superficial, repetitive, ominous and misleading ads.

    Also bad: as near as I can tell, political ad wizards have determined that including the slightest trace of wit or humor doesn't work.

    (Although I admit that I get a chuckle out of these two. Every damn time.)

    Even worse for my blood pressure: Obama's televised attacks on McCain's health care proposals. Factcheck, without nuance, deems them false, the Washington Post awards them three Pinocchios on their four-Pinocchio scale. And McCain has done a dismal job of responding to them.

    But fortunately for our theme, as the WSJ points out, Obama's ads are also deeply phony.

    … Mr. Obama's tactics are especially cynical because his own health-care advisers support plans much like Mr. McCain's. Or at least they did before joining up with Mr. Obama.

    Replete with quotes.

  • We must mention the hate crime perpetrated against McCain campaign worker Ashley Todd, who sustained a shiner and a cheek mutilated by a backwards "B". Of course, this was phony, the wounds apparently self-inflicted.

    Sharp-eyed Robert Stacy McCain points out a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story that indicates Ms. Todd is probably a serial hoaxer: she was kicked off the Ron Paul campaign in Brazos County, Texas when she posed as a Huckabee supporter to the local Republican committee in order to obtain information about tactics; she also claimed that her tires were slashed and that campaign materials were stolen from her car. Comments Robert:

    I'm thinking that would have been a deal-breaker because -- let's be honest -- if you're too crazy for the Paulistas, you're just too damned crazy.

    Indeed. Maybe there should be some sort of lunatic watchlist for campaigns.

  • But at least there are those out there keepin' it real: "Cindy McCain Claims She’s ‘Just Like Any Other Female Human’". And you'll also want to thank Cracked for its careful investigative video: Obama Facts: Truth or Smear?"

Last Modified 2014-12-01 1:20 PM EST

88 Minutes

[Amazon Link] [1.0
stars] [IMDb Link]

I should have believed the 5% TomatoMeter rating. This is pretty bad.

But it sounds as if it could have been good: Al Pacino plays forensic psychologist Jack Gramm, who has testified in court to help convict Jon Forster as the "Seattle Slayer" serial rapist/murderer. However, even with Forster safely on Death Row, another murder is committed with the Slayer's MO. Worse, Dr. Gramm receives a phone call notifying him that he has only—guess how long—88 minutes to live. (And, according to the IMDB, that's exactly how long the rest of the movie takes. It seems much, much, longer.)

I could go on and on about what I didn't like about the movie. Even in retrospect, the plot makes no sense. Al Pacino is a great actor, but he delivers most of his lines here like he was about to nod off. Just about every main character acts weird and suspicious, including Gramm. (A couple characters simply show up to act weird and suspicious, then never appear again.) People talk way too much on cell phones.

There are no real clues or progress toward the solution of the mystery. Gramm just bumbles around somnolently until it's time for the real villain to be unveiled. That happens, movie over.

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:09 PM EST

Rough Weather

[Amazon Link]

I'm engaged in reading Neal Stephenson's Anathem, which is awesome, but also massive and slow-going. When a new Spenser novel (36th in the series) from Robert B. Parker comes out, it's a good and easy excuse to take a small break.

In this one, our private-eye hero gets hired by famed gold-digger Heidi Bradshaw to perform some ill-defined duties for her daughter's wedding taking place on Tashtego, a small private island off New Bedford, MA. Events unfold quickly: on page 15, Spenser's old nemesis, the Gray Man, appears on the island as well. Around page 32, the Gray Man and his gang invade the marriage ceremony, shoot up a bunch of people, and abscond with the bride. Spenser is helpless to thwart this.

So Spenser spends the rest of the book correcting this embarrassment. The motive for the crime is mystifying, and (as usual) things are not as they seem. Many of the usual cast of characters appear: Susan (of course), Hawk, Quirk, Healy, Tony Marcus, etc. (I sometimes wonder: how does it work out for the hapless reader who decides that book N in the series will be their first-read, where N ≫ 1; is that just too painfully confusing?) My first was Mortal Stakes, N = 3, well over 30 years ago.)

Anyway, a good, fast read. Spenser is, as always, as quick with a wisecrack as he is with his trusty Browning. His relationship with the Grey Man is intriguing, and you won't get any spoilers from me about how it turns out here. I found the plot, especially the (eventually) revealed motivation behind it all, to be unconvincing, and the resolution ludicrous. On the other hand, if that's the way Parker says it happened, then that's the way it happened. I'm not going to tell him otherwise, are you?

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:35 PM EST

URLs du Jour


  • I like Sarah Palin just fine, but http://www.palinaspresident.us/ is pretty funny in an over-the-top New Yorker magazine cover sort of way. (Via Granite Slate.)

  • It's Thursday, a good day to see if there's a new Rochester (NH) Police Log. There is!. Samples, concentrating on Salmon Falls Road:

    Tuesday, Oct. 7

    10:33 a.m. — Rocks the size of "bowling balls" are on the road called Salmon Falls.

    Wednesday, Oct. 8

    2:01 p.m. — On Salmon Falls Road, a neighbor is allegedly banging on a garage door and causing a dog to bark. When asked to stop he responded, says the log, "with fowl language." That should get tongues clucking.

    Saturday, Oct. 11

    7:13 a.m. — Horses clump up and down Salmon Falls Road. Farmer Mark Perry (Hi, Mark) corrals them until their owners are contacted.

    It is a long road, but still… maybe something in the water?

  • The great church sign debate. Phony but funny.

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:11 PM EST

URLs du Jour


  • If you're one of those young whippersnappers who read this blog, I suggest Robert Samuelson's column today deserves your full attention. Sample:
    To: Voters Under 35

    Subject: Your Future

    Recommendation: Get Angry

    You're being played for chumps. Barack Obama and John McCain want your votes, but they're ignoring your interests. You face a heavily mortgaged future. You'll pay Social Security and Medicare for aging baby boomers. The needed federal tax increase might total 50 percent over the next 25 years. Pension and health costs for state and local workers have doubtlessly been underestimated. There's the expense of decaying infrastructure -- roads, bridges, water pipes. All this will squeeze other crucial government services: education, defense, police.

    Robert Samuelson is 62, your faithful blogger is only slightly younger than that. So we're arguing against our narrow demographic interests here.

    Alternatively, you could continue on your docile path. Certainly that's what the AARP would prefer. Chump.

  • Via LGF comes an ill-tempered screed from Lewis Diuguid, a columnist for the Kansas City Star editorial page. Headline is: "Shame on McCain and Palin for using an old code word for black"

    Before we go on, can you guess the "code word"?

    OK, time's up:

    The "socialist" label that Sen. John McCain and his GOP presidential running mate Sarah Palin are trying to attach to Sen. Barack Obama actually has long and very ugly historical roots.
    Historical roots aside, if you're going to tell Joe the Plumber that one of your political goals is to "spread the wealth around", someone's gonna point to Wikipedia:
    All socialists advocate the creation of an egalitarian society, in which wealth and power are distributed more evenly, although there is considerable disagreement among socialists over how, and to what extent this could be achieved.
    So to the extent that McCain and Palin are pointing out that Obama shares this core socialist goal, they're right. (As Will Wilkinson points out, McCain and Palin don't exactly have clean hands either.)

    But what about those "ugly historical roots"? Diuguid's sole argument names four historical black figures who J. Edgar Hoover (and, I assume, others) allegedly deemed socialists: Martin Luther King Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois, Paul Robeson, and A. Philip Randolph.

    The problem being, as Kevin D. Williamson points out, that whatever their other admirable qualities, Diuguid's examples were (respectively), a democratic socialist, a Stalinist, another Stalinist, and a socialist.

    (Williamson does not mention, as Wikipedia does, that Randolph was a member of Eugene V. Debs' Socialist Party. I would say that's pretty much a slam dunk.)

    (Note to quibblers: Simply because those other guys were socialists doesn't necessarily make Obama one. This doesn't make Diuguid any less of an idiot.)

  • At Dartblog, Joe Malchow notes a debate between the primary economic advisors to John McCain and Barack Obama. Joe's correspondent writes:
    As you will see, Obama’s advisor is completely divorced from a grounded understanding of economic principles, …
    Dude, you may not like him, but that's Austan Goolsbee, an economics prof at the University of Chicago. He may feel compelled by his campaign position to spout a lot of Obamanian nonsense, but I'm fairly certain that he knows that it's nonsense.

    Nevertheless, here's the link; you can make your own call.

  • But make no mistake, Obama's economic policies, at least for the campaign, are nonsense on stilts.

Sustainability at UNH: Not Tyrannical, Just Tediously Totalitarian

Via the blog of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, I came upon a Katherine Kersten column from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Ms. Kersten's topic is … well, let her tell it:

Today's socially conscious student finds it tough to keep up with all the latest buzzwords. He wants to be for "social justice" and against "institutional racism." He's keen to be seen as an "environmentalist," a "multiculturalist" and an "anti-imperialist."

The list, so to speak, goes on.

Wouldn't life be simpler if all the correct labels could be captured in just one word?

That magic word is here, and it's taking college campuses by storm.

The abracadabra bon mot is "sustainability."

She's right. At my own employer, the University of New Hampshire, it's everywhere. Googling for "sustainability" just in the unh.edu domain gives a over couple thousand hits; "sustainable" all by itself gives (as I type) 2,880. (Contrast: an equivalent search for "liberty" gives 754 hits, and the first few in the list refer to Liberty Mutual (the insurance company) and town names in Maine and New York.)

But what's the problem? Isn't "sustainability" a good thing? Back to Ms. Kersten:

But what, exactly, does "sustainability" mean? It has the ring of improving the environment, and conjures up images of low-voltage light bulbs and farmers markets. If so, say many folks, bring it on.

Some institutions of higher learning, such as the University of Minnesota, do have a scientific, environmental focus and initiatives led by biologists and ecologists. But to a significant extent, the beauty of "sustainability" is that it can mean whatever you want it to mean.

In many cases, folks with a burning desire to transform the world are using the concept to piggy-back on legitimate environmental concerns, and get a foot in the door for every leftist cause under the sun.

Sounds bad. But it gets worse: Ms. Kersten details how a presentation at a recent conference did just that, where "sustainability" was draped in usual lefty boilerplate: "environmental racism" "fair trade", "gender equity", "oppressive systems", etc., etc. One of the speakers went on to be involved in the infamous University of Delaware ResLife indoctrination program we discussed here. Ms. Kersten concludes:
There is one word for what this all adds up to, but it's not sustainability.

It's tyranny.

Hm. Is that true at UNH? Let's take a look at the Office of Sustainability website.

And to get one thing out of the way: these are nice, well-meaning people. And they do a lot of good stuff. For example, here we read about:

UNH microbiologists Cheryl Whistler and Vaughn Cooper, both assistant professors, are studying the microbial interactions that influence the emergence of pathogenic Vibrio bacteria species in oysters. The research is funded by NH Sea Grant.
Everyone who wants vibrio-free oysters shouldn't mind that too much. (But is that really "sustainability", or is that just normal research that would happen anyway, with or without "sustainability" spreading its umbrella over it?)

And there's the actually-interesting (PDF) UNH Landscape Master Plan, which concerns itself with making our fair campus "work" in terms of harmonizing buildings, parking lots, walkways, and roads with campus flora and fauna. Can't argue.

There's lots of material like that. But …

  • Check the calendar. Scheduled just one week before election day:
    October 28: Climate Change Forum. Murkland Auditorium, 7:00 PM. Why has climate change faded from our political discourse? Why should climate change be at the center of the 2008 election? Join expert panelists, representatives from campaigns, and fellow members of the public, in an exciting discussion of why climate change should be a major issue in the November election, how it affects energy, the environment, national security, and global justice. Panelists will include: Rev. Roberta Finkelstein of the UU South Church in Portsmouth; Will Abbott, Vice President for Policy and Land Management at the NH Forest Society; Stacy VanDeveer, Associate Professor of Political Science at UNH; and Dr. Cameron Wake, Research Associate Professor at UNH.
    My guess from the slanted language: this will be less of an "exciting discussion", more of a one-sided dissent-free indoctrination session.

  • The Office of Sustainability is one of the organizations sponsoring the "$3.13 a Day Food Challenge" coming up November 15-21. As their (PDF) poster puts it:
    Participate in the $3.13 A Day Food Challenge.

    You will have the opportunity to experience some of the struggles that 26 million Americans face to secure food on an average food stamp allowance of $3.13 a day.

    The "challenge" has been around for awhile. It's dishonest propaganda, a publicity stunt designed to mislead. Food stamps are "means tested": people making more money get lower allotments. A hypothetical recipient of an "average" food stamp allowance would be expected to have additional resources of their own to spend on food. People who imply $3.13 is all "26 million Americans" have to spend to "secure food" are lying. (More details here.)

    This isn't to say that poor people don't have a rough time of it; of course they do. Among other things, their situation is worsened by government policies designed to artificially raise the cost of food.

    (As publicity stunts go, I prefer the "Liberty and Prosperity Challenge" from Ari and Jennifer Armstrong. Also see their results, complete with cash register receipts and recipes. No chance the Office of Sustainability would sponsor anything like that, though.)

  • One of the "initiatives" pursued by the Office of Sustainability is the "Culture & Sustainability Initiative", which has its own web section. The first thing I notice is the gassy rhetoric; it's infected with the and-disease, whereby no noun or verb can sent out in public without one or more partners:
    As a Cultural Development Campus, UNH is committed to being a model sustainable community in the state and region: we consider culture and the arts as fundamental to sustainability as clean air and water. UNH is meeting this commitment through its University-wide Culture & Sustainability Initiative (CAS), the mission of which is to integrate the ethics and policies of conserving and developing our cultural heritage into the University’s identity and practices. To accomplish this mission, the CAS is actively engaging the University community in efforts that increase their awareness and support of public arts and our cultural and natural heritage.
    I especially like the three ands in the "mission" sentence; they logically expand out into eight different mission components. Specifically, to integrate:

    1. the ethics of conserving our cultural heritage into the University's identity;
    2. the ethics of conserving our cultural heritage into the University's practices;
    3. the ethics of developing our cultural heritage into the University's identity;
    4. the ethics of developing our cultural heritage into the University's practices;
    5. the policies of conserving our cultural heritage into the University's identity;
    6. the policies of conserving our cultural heritage into the University's practices;
    7. the policies of developing our cultural heritage into the University's identity; and (finally)
    8. the policies of developing our cultural heritage into the University's practices.

    Ask yourself: are these things different in any meaningful way? Or is the writer just piling up words that sound good? I know which way I'd bet.

    We also have an old reliable feelgood friend on this page, showing up as one of the things UNH is "committed" to via CAS:

    • Social Justice: Increasing student exposure to humanistic treatments of particular issues of justice on the campus, in the region and country, and around the world.
    Because if students didn't get increased "exposure" to "humanistic treatments", well, then it just wouldn't be sustainable. I strongly suspect that there won't be any Hayek or Sowell involved in that "exposure".

  • UNH's own "Chief Sustainability Officer", Tom Kelly, is quoted here:
    Sustainability is not about business as usual; it should not be confused with incremental technical approaches to managing the status quo more efficiently nor with the “greening” of consumerism. It is a question of culture: of our sense of meaning and purpose as Americans and as human beings. As citizens of the Earth system and citizens of the world, we have inherited a culture that is ours to interpret and bequeath to future generations. Sustainability requires us to critically examine our cultural choices in light of the myriad interactions of art, science, politics and economics, not simply to study them in isolation.
    It's hard to pin, as Kersten does, the "tyranny" label on this kind of thought. But utopian is a fair one; so is totalitarian. We're looking at the imagined grandiose wholesale transformation of society, under the warm-n-fuzzy aegis of "sustainability."

So (in short) Kersten has a point. In addition to the useful and important things to which it refers, "Sustainability" has become one of the mantra-words of our fine University's Official Secular Theology. It (poorly) disguises standard tedious left-wing ideology. It's alternately irritating and amusing, but what are you gonna do? The best strategy is probably amateur heresy: point it out, and laugh. Or growl.

Hence, this article.

Speed Racer

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

I can't recommend this movie to you. I can easily see many people giving up, popping it out of the DVD player, and sailing it across the room like a frisbee. But I surprised myself by liking it quite a bit. It was was written and directed by the Wachowski brothers of Matrix fame.

The movie centers on the Racer family. Which consists of father and mother (named "Pops" and "Mom", respectively), allegedly deceased older son Rex, Speed, and tubby little comic-relief Spritle.

Also, Spritle has a chimp.

As you might expect with a name like "Racer", the family business is car racing. Speed is a gifted driver, Pops is a gifted designer. But they are set upon by corrupt corporate types who fix races in order to manipulate stock prices and fuel takeovers.

So far, except maybe for the chimp, I could have been describing a movie set in our own world. But Speed Racer is set in an alternate reality, colored as garishly as a video game. Racing has gone high-tech. The cars have "jump jacks" which allow a limited amount of flying and flipping. And races are not simply races, but also pitched battles between cars, using gimmicky weaponry and defenses. The Racer family goes up against a dizzying array of absurdly-costumed mugging-for-the-camera villains.

This all sounds pretty ludicrous, but only because it is. There are a lot of plot points that don't make a lot of sense; you have to just nod your head and say: they could probably have explained that if they wanted to, but they don't.

The movie was a box-office bomb, going up against Iron Man this summer and failing. I can see why. But I have a lot of respect for filmmakers who have a vision and decide to have some fun making exactly the movie they want to make, and that appears to have been the case here. There's an incredible amount of detail, stuff off in the corners of the screen for a second or less that must have cost a bundle to design and implement.

And Shaft himself, Richard Roundtree, has a small role. It was nice to see him.

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:11 PM EST

The Phony Campaign

2008-10-19 Update

Neck-and-neck phoniness continues this week:

Query StringHit CountChange Since
"John McCain" phony1,140,000+10,000
"Barack Obama" phony1,110,000+10,000
"Bob Barr" phony39,700-700

To paraphrase John 21:25: "And there are also many other phony things which the candidates did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the blogs that should be written. Amen."

In other words: it's been a target-rich environment for taking potshots at the phony this week, and we want to keep this to a reasonable length; we're only hitting the high points. With that understanding:

  • On Sunday last, Gateway Pundit noticed the Obama campaign's "Fight the Smears" website had to drop one of its smear-fighting points into the memory hole, when the particular fought-against "smear" turned out to be, oops, true.

    (Is it time for a "Fight the 'Fight the Smears Website' Website"? Maybe!)

  • On Monday, James Taranto noted a Chicago Tribune column by John Kass, who made the point about Obama's buddy Bill Ayers:

    Ayers is a terrorist—the narcissistic son of privilege and clout—whose father, Thomas, was the boss of Commonwealth Edison and a friend of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley. As a leader of the ultraviolent Weather Underground, Ayers admitted to helping bomb the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon in the 1970s. He should have been sent to prison. Instead, Chicago political clout allowed him and his wife, fellow radical Bernardine Dohrn, to magically join the payrolls of universities here.

    [Kass's article is on the general topic of the mainstreaming of yesteryear's violent radicals into business-as-usual functionaries of the Democratic Party. A less-heralded example is Obama fundraiser Marilyn Katz: she "once advocated throwing studded nails in front of police cars", now her firm does PR for the Chicago Police Department. Kass comments: "Apparently, irony was not a '60s thing."]

    Taranto comments further:

    Ayers, in Kass's telling, was rehabilitated socially without being rehabilitated morally for no reason other than that he was a son of privilege. This makes his "radicalism"--the justification in his own mind for his violent acts--look rather phony.

    Unfortunately, the bombs weren't phony.

  • On Tuesday, Power Line pointed out the continued dishonesty of Obama's scary TV ads attacking the McCain health care plan. And made the further points that those attacks have gone largely unanswered, thanks to the difficulty of describing McCain's actual plan in a 30-second spot, and Obama's massive advantage in advertising funds.

  • If you can stand one more Ayers link: on Wednesday, Tom Maguire brought us up to speed:

    What is the history and extent of the relationship between unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers and Barack Obama? Good question, and one that has stumped the Obama campaign since they delivered their first misinformation about it last February. In a different political environment this level of deceit and evasiveness would spark press coverage of an obvious cover-up, but you go to elections with the media you have.

    Nice understatement by Tom! The media we have is otherwise occupied trolling Facebook to find kids who went to school with McCain's kids who might have something nasty to say about Cindy McCain.

  • On Thursday, Ed Morrissey followed up Obama's debate statements about ACORN, Illinois infanticide, and (sorry, again) Ayers and found them low in factitude, but high in phoniness.

  • On Friday, Harvard econ prof Greg Mankiw looked at the Obama Social Security reform plan. Shorn of all the obfuscatory rhetoric:

    … it sounds like Senator Obama wants to close the projected gap between taxes and spending entirely by raising taxes.

    Via a commmenter, Prof Mankiw notes the special phoniness of an Obamanian adviser's description of the plan:

    Obama is confident that we can come together to find a workable solution. He believes that one strong option to improve Social Security's long-term solvency is asking people who earn more than $250,000 to pay a little more into the system.

    Describing a tax increase as "asking" people to "pay a little more"… I devoutly wish for some mechanism by which people who utter such bullshit would automatically be hooted off the public stage.

    Another commenter notes that Obama's plan won't actually, y'know, work. But that's the normal phoniness we can believe in.

  • And (finally) on Saturday, the real Sarah Palin met the phony one:

    Not the funniest thing I've ever seen on SNL, but not bad.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 1:22 PM EST

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

[Amazon Link] [2.5
stars] [IMDb Link]

I'm normally a fan of the raunchy comedies produced by the Judd Apatow factory, but this didn't really do it for me. (85% on the Tomatometer, though, so your take could be much more favorable.)

It centers on Peter, a composer of background music (or, as he describes it, "tones") for the TV series Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime. He's also in a relationship with the star of the show, Sarah Marshall. But that lasts about as long as I took to describe it: she announces (to his full-frontal male nudity) that she's seeing someone else and breaks up with him. He's morose, he goes to a Hawaii resort to try to recover, but Sarah's there with her new man, a spacy British rock star named Aldous. Peter meets a sympathetic hotel clerk, Rachel. Hijinks ensue.

What's good: Aldous is played by Russell Brand, and he's funny. There are some very funny performances in small roles: Kristen Wiig as a resort yoga instructor; Paul Rudd as a surfing instructor; Steve Landesberg (Dietrich on Barney Miller!) as Peter's doctor.

And everything about Crime Scene: Scene of the Crime is hilarious, from the title to the small clips we see of the show.

But (at least for me) Peter's character never became very sympathetic, which is deadly for this kind of movie. In addition, the raunch, while expected, seemed to be tacked on, much in the way brain-dead action movies insert explosions, chases, and fights every ten minutes or so. (Yes, I have high standards for raunch. Also explosions.)

The most amazing thing: it's been about 30 years since Steve Landesberg was on Barney Miller, and I don't think he's aged. How does he do that?

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:12 PM EST

Levi Stubbs, RIP

Levi Stubbs, lead singer of the Four Tops has passed away. Here's a nice tribute from Brian Williams of NBC News:

I am still awed by the sheer genius of "Bernadette", three minutes of musical perfection, much of that perfection due to the vocal of Levi Stubbs. (Here's an article I wrote on the 40th anniversary of the song's release.)

Play at least a few Four Tops songs for yourself at your next opportunity, and marvel at how blessed you are that you live in the same time and in the same country that produced such wonders.

Last Modified 2008-10-24 12:03 PM EST

URLs du Jour


  • A mere few days after Michael Barone wrote about the "Coming Obama Thugocracy", we get another data point for that thesis in the fate of Joe the Plumber who dared question The One on his redistributionist mentality. The link is to Prof Bainbridge, who comments:
    Unwilling to debate Obama’s penchant for wealth redistribution on the merits, the left has engaged in a systematic pattern of distraction, obfuscation, and character assassination. You can’t blame them, of course, since it’s pretty clear that the left’s penchant for high taxes and wealth redistribution is not shared by the populace at large. So they have to change the subject.

    Even so, it’s part of an ugly pattern by the Obamabots, who seem determined not just to win but to crush dissent. It makes you wonder how bad it’ll be when Obama wins. Or, gawd help us, what’ll happen if by some chance he loses.

    "Indeed." Also worth noting is the enthusiastic participation of the MSM (who have been relatively unconcerned with investigating—y'know—the actual candidate and his pals) and the leftwing blogs, supposedly the friends of the working stiff.

  • For other Joe content, read Iowahawk. And Will Wilkinson. And Michelle.

  • People interested in the way Sarah Palin talks will want to check out the mini-debate between Harvard psych prof Steven Pinker and Berkeley linguistics prof Geoff Nunberg. There's a special focus on the way she pronounces "nuclear"; I can relate. Despite being a physics major myself, I get it "wrong", just like Governor Palin.

    Pinker starts it off with an NYT op-ed.

    And no, “nucular” is not a sign of ignorance. This reversal of vowel-like consonants (nuk-l’-yer —> nuk-y’-ler) is common in the world’s languages, and is no more illiterate than pronouncing “iron” the way most Americans do, as “eye-yern” instead of “eye-ren.”
    Aha! So there! But Nunberg, says hold on a minnit:
    I agree with Pinker's overall conclusion that Palin shouldn't be on the hook for this one, but I think both of the claims here are wrong. It's not a phonetic process, and if it isn't exactly a sign of ignorance, it's the legacy of it.
    I love the condescension dripping from it not being exactly a sign of ignorance. But Pinker has the last word, at least for now.
    Nor is it clear that this is a faux-bubba disaffectation (both great words, by the way), or a sign of ignorance. Jimmy Carter, during his 1980 debate with Reagan, boasted that he was a nucular engineer, and both Eisenhower and Mondale have been credited with the pronunciation as well. Last Friday I spoke to the Strategic Studies Group at the Naval War College in Newport, RI, and heard the pronunciation from two of the senior analysts there. According to Merriam-Webster, "Though disapproved of by many, pronunciations ending in [kyələr] have been found in widespread use among educated speakers including scientists, lawyers, professors, congressmen, United States cabinet members, and at least two United States presidents and one vice president. While most common in the United States, these pronunciations have also been heard from British and Canadian speakers."
    I think the bottom line is: say it the way you want, Sarah.

    [Pinker also identifies Sarah's accent as "Minnewegian". I thought so too; it's something Tina Fey nailed well in her SNL skits.]

  • At Forbes, Peter Robinson asks some of his Hoover Institution buddies about how their late colleague Milton Friedman would have viewed the current economic wackiness. To me, educated guesses on what Friedman might have thought are more persuasive than what—say—Paul Krugman actually thinks.

    Bottom line: the current implementation of the large-bank bailout via equity stakes is probably the best move, provided government sheds them quickly.

    So maybe we're not doomed, although we're probably in for a world of hurt. I'm more optimistic this week than last, anyway.

  • At the WSJ, Kimberley A. Strassel examines my own state's senatorial contest between the incumbent John E. Sununu and ex-governor Jeanne Shaheen. Her conclusion:
    Mr. Sununu is still running single-digits behind Mrs. Shaheen in the polls, though GOP strategists say he has tightened the numbers this past week. The Republican is known for coming from behind. Pulling out a win in this brutal electoral environment may be a long shot. But if Mr. Sununu -- with his record of reform and pro-growth policies -- can't hold his seat, it's hard to imagine what GOP Senate candidate can.
    Sununu was right on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, he's semi-decent on matters fiscal, and taken some semi-libertarian stances even against the general flow of the GOP. For a major-party politician, he's about as good as it gets. I'd be very disappointed if he lost.

URLs du Jour


  • Unlike some, I don't resent rich people. Other things being equal, I think they are kind of neat. However, it gets a little irritating when fortunes are accumulated due to political connections and government protection posing as "regulation". Such as, for example, the one enjoyed by Mrs. Cindy McCain.

  • No, didn't watch the debate last night, opting instead for "Coffin for a Clown", Season One, Episode 10 of Mannix.

    But David Beaver of Language Log was watching, and he noted the wit and wisdom of the moderator, Bob Schieffer, from the transcript:

    SCHIEFFER: Let's go to -- let's go to a new topic. We're running a little behind. Let's talk about energy and climate control. Every president since Nixon has said what both of you...

    MCCAIN: Climate change.

    SCHIEFFER: Climate change, yes -- has said what both of you have said, and, that is, we must reduce our dependence on foreign oil. When Nixon said it, we imported from 17 to 34 percent of our foreign oil. Now, we're importing more than 60 percent. …

    David helpfully points out that we import, to a very close approximation, 100% of our foreign oil, both under Nixon and right now. It's been a remarkably stable statistic.

  • Unless you have been hiding under the proverbial rock, you have now heard about about Mr. Joe Wurzelbacher, aka "Joe the Plumber", who was able to ask Senator Obama about the likely effects of Obama's proposed tax hikes on his future plans for his plumbing business. Specifically, he isn't taking too kindly to getting kicked in the nuts, taxwise, simply because of financial success gained by prudence and work. Here's a description of the encounter, and here's the YouTube.

    Jim Geraghty provides a transcript of Joe's Good Morning, America appearance, and was impressed:

    Whatever the outcome of this election, Wurzelbacher is making sure the country knows what it is getting into when if it says "okey-dokey" to Obama's tax plan. For this he deserves our salutes. If Wurzelbacher keeps this up, maybe the GOP ought to run Palin-Wurzelbacher in 2012.
    It seems to Pun Salad that turning a good honest plumber into a Vice President is too much of a sacrifice, not only for Joe, but also his employees and customers.

  • Joe was a big part of last night's debate, causing great comment today. At the NYT's Green Inc blog, Kate Galbraith muses:

    If nothing else, the dialog suggests that “Joe the Plumber,” the Everyman voter who became a totem and a talking point for both candidates last night, might one day be “Joe the solar guy.”

    More likely: the government will take Joe the Plumber's money, and give it to Joe the Solar Guy.

    Then, in the unlikely event that Joe the Solar Guy gets successful, the government can take his money and give it to Joe the Plumber as welfare, having driven him out of business.

    This will not bother or surprise the great number of people who look at Bastiat's aphorism:

    The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.
    … and say: "Yeah. So?"

  • You owe it to yourself to check out the 21 amazing solar pictures assembled by the good-for-something Boston Globe.

    I enjoyed comment #141 from one Eric Deziel, who makes perhaps the least appropriate analogy ever:

    Awesome! And this is made of individual inert atoms. Imagine what conscious beings could do all together! I truly believe that, as the sun, human beings can do great things, if we stop acting like “atoms” and work together as “sun”...
    I guess people are still taking LSD.

  • The Rochester (NH) Police Log reports on human and animal misbehavior:
    Thursday, Oct. 2

    8:10 a.m. — A possum has been decaying on Crow Hill Road since last Sunday.

    12:22 p.m. — A loose dog on Alice Lane barks and badly scares a very elderly lady.

    Friday, Oct. 3

    10:20 a.m. — A motorist regrets hitting a cat, on North Main Street. She didn't see where it went. "The most likely dead cat," says the log, is across from Burger King.

    11:49 a.m. — Another poor cat is found dead at the library. It is not buried in a book.

    3:00 p.m. — Dr. Michael Clark, a chiropractor on Charles Street, reports the theft of a six-foot spine statue from his porch. It is gone, no bones about it.

    Sunday, Oct. 5

    11:27 a.m. — A sickly, boney cat is reported at Sandstone Lane. Police judge it to be merely boney.

    Monday, Oct. 6

    2:49 p.m. — Gun shots are heard off Old Dover Road. Police advise it is the season to kill birds.

    6:33 p.m. — On Morton Avenue, a bunny hops around a neighbor's yard. The owner allegedly tells the neighbor "to go ahead and shoot it because he cannot catch it."

Seeing Sarah

I had previously asked for the day off, but had no plans. Then Sarah Palin's campaign stop in Dover, New Hampshire was announced, at the high school. How often do we in NH get to see a major-party candidate after the primary? Not often. So I did the website magic to print myself a ticket, and I was off.

Parking was about a mile away, and I walked. Mostly Republican signage all the way, but some irate Democrat did a big homemade one near the intersection of Route 108 and Back River Road:


Ah, someone was absent the day teacher went over the difference between "infer" and "imply." And apparently saying (never mind "inferring") that Governor Palin is a racist and unchristian is OK; noting Obama's (factual) ties to William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn is out of bounds. Irony is lost on these people.

But this turned into a minor theme for the day. For example, at the turnoff to the high school, a bunch had set up camp with their batch of homemade signs. Typical: "HATE IS NOT A FAMILY VALUE!"

Oh, really? Gee, I thought it was. Now I'm going to have to rethink that.

I wonder: do Republicans do this kind of thing at equivalent Democratic Party events? What kind of mentality does it take to show up at these things and (essentially) tell all assembled that they're a bunch of evil racist haters?

But that sort of thing was a minor irritation/entertainment. Mostly attending this event was about standing. Specifically, standing in a long line for a long time. I'd gotten there kind of early, and things were running late. Rumor had it that the Secret Service was taking an extra long time to "sweep" the gym, where the event was to be held. In the meantime, party people worked the line, selling buttons, handing out stickers, asking for volunteers. Jeb Bradley, who is running to retake his House seat from the woman who defeated him two years back, shook approximately everyone's hand. I also got shaken by gubernatorial candidate Joe Kenney.

Eventually we moved, though. Slowly, since the entire crowd had to go through metal detectors and professionally shooped with a magic sniffing wand by a polite but firm Secret Service agent. Finally made it to the gym for … much more standing! Sarah was running late, having been delayed (it was claimed) by Air Traffic Control. In the gym, activists were still busy, handing out pompoms and placards.

After a bit, Jeb Bradley and Senator John E. Sununu got up on stage and worked the crowd. Jeb introduced John, and John gave a short speech using the phrase "big-government liberal" approximately 137 times. But he also reminded people there about the legislation he sponsored a couple years back to reform Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (which garnered McCain later as a co-sponsor) which was bottled up by Congressional Democrats. This is a good thing for both Sununu and McCain to hit over and over again.

But then we were back to waiting. Loud country/rock standards were played for what seemed like an hour. Because it was, like, an hour.

Finally, Sarah's "Straight Talk Express" bus pulled in—we could see it through the open gym doors. Yay! At last! And soon enough: color guard, pledge, anthem, introduction by Jeb Bradley, and then it's Sarah striding to the podium amidst the crowd going nuts.

Yes, she looks just about as perfect in person as she does on the tube.

She has a pretty good speaking style. She schmoozed us, telling us all what a great state we live in, wishing "Live Free or Die" was Alaska's motto too, which the crowd loved. (So did I, truth be told.) It was a positive speech, entirely devoted to praise of John McCain and traditional GOP values. I'm pretty sure she mentioned neither Obama or Biden by name. People looking for her to "infer" that Obama was a terrorist were no doubt disappointed.

Also: If you believed recent efforts by the MSM to paint GOP rally crowds as violence-prone knuckle-draggers, you would have been disappointed by the Dover crowd. About as rowdy as things got: on the 87th repetition of "big government liberals" phrase by John Sununu, some guy yelled "Socialists!"

No, that wasn't me.

Although the Governor delivered her speech well, there were a few things that grated:

  • she railed (briefly) against Wall Street "greed and corruption" and kind of handwaved about McCain's plan which will (somehow) bail out the honest hard-working folks, but (somehow) avoid bailing out those fat-cat plutocrats. Shortly after, she had nothing but praise for the "private sector." Better not think about that too hard. Just keep saying: well, at least they're better than the Democrats.

  • She noted McCain's pledge to balance the budget at the end of his first term. Not going to happen, and it's an insult to intelligence to "pledge" otherwise.

  • Equally intelligence-insulting was the claim that a McCain administration would impose "energy independence" on the US. And she said it as if it were not only possible (which it isn't), but a good thing (which it isn't). See here for a brief Cato takedown.

But bottom line: the crowd loved her, I liked her, she's a good speaker, and I'd take her over Joe Biden any day.

For more on Sarah's day in the Granite State, Granite Grok has detailed and excellent coverage of her Weirs Beach event. (Dammit, Mark Steyn was there. I would have gone to Weirs Beach just to meet Mark Steyn, never mind Sarah!)

Last Modified 2014-12-01 1:21 PM EST

Bill Ayers Has an (Imaginary) Friend at UNH

Inside Higher Ed has an article today about William Ayers and his support among higher educators. The article is left-slanted, as you can tell from the first couple paragraphs:

William Ayers has been trashed by conservative pundits and labeled “an unrepentant domestic terrorist” by Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, but the University of Illinois at Chicago professor has garnered the support of a growing number of peers who admire his scholarship and see the attacks on him as an affront to academic freedom.

Ayers, who helped found a Vietnam-era protest group that was blamed for bombing government buildings, has been a faculty member at Illinois-Chicago since 1987. In a statement signed by faculty members across the country, professors have spoken out against “the demonization” of Ayers, whose alleged ties to the Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama have made headlines.

This is rhetorical fog, designed to obscure. Words like "labeled" and "blamed" implies it's just those ill-tempered righties doing so. But it was that right-wing nuthouse, the New York Times, that published the go-to article on Ayers, coincidentally on September 11, 2001, "No Regrets for a Love Of Explosives; In a Memoir of Sorts, a War Protester Talks of Life With the Weathermen", opening with:

''I don't regret setting bombs,'' Bill Ayers said. ''I feel we didn't do enough.''

Clear enough?

Speaking of Ayers' "alleged ties" to Obama is equally obfuscatory. The basic facts about the "ties" are not in dispute, no matter how much the Obama campaign lies about them, deflects them, tries to cover them up, or tries to silence the people who talk about them.

The argument—one that the Obama campaign desperately wants not to have—is how much the history of those "ties" reflects on Obama's judgment, character, and ideological roots.

But that's not the thrust of the Inside Higher Ed article. Because the Ayers story also reflects on the judgment, character, and ideology of his current employer, the University of Illinois at Chicago. And Northwestern, the employer of his equally odious wife, Bernardine Dohrn. And, by extension, the entire higher education establishment, which probably does not want to be perceived as a kind of an employer of last resort for ex-terrorists who find that their job skills and life experiences are unappreciated by the private sector. In full Governor LaPetomaine mode, the cry goes out: "We have to protect our phony baloney jobs here, gentlemen!"


Hence, the article's main point is to publicize the efforts of those educators who are protesting the "demonization" of Ayers. (Translation into normal English: "demonization" means "fact-finding and publicizing".) The article points its readers to http://www.supportbillayers.org/ which (as I type) has 3247 "signatures" on a petition that, "to support our colleague Professor William Ayers"

Naturally, I looked for signatories from my own employer, the University of New Hampshire. Ah, there's one:

2748Aleister CrowleyUniversity of New Hampshire - Durham

You may have heard of him. If not, Pun Salad will spare you the trouble of looking him up. He's not a UNH faculty member. Nor is he otherwise employed at UNH. And he's not a current student. In fact, he's been dead for slightly over sixty years. Pictured at right, he was a famous British wacko (as Wikipedia puts it) "best known for his occult writings."

I wonder if the other signatures on the website were equally well verified? Perhaps ACORN has been given the job of getting people to sign up?

UPDATE: the sharp-eyed Doug Lambert of GraniteGrok notes another data point in favor of the ACORN hypothesis:

1167Ramesh PonnuruNational Review

To quote Rene Descartes: I don't think so. (And then he disappeared.)

And (now that I look more carefully), there's also:

1181Jack MeoffUniversity of West Kentucky

… I've seen his name on a lot of petitions.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 1:21 PM EST

URLs du Jour


  • Many bloggers are noting the MSM efforts to paint a small number of bad eggs at a few GOP rallies as the next coming of the Raging Neo-Nazi Hordes. Michelle Malkin is your one-stop debunker on the topic; she's been collecting numerous examples of lefty rage against all things Republican.

    It's easy to trapped into metaphysical arguments about whether right-wing examples are commensurable with left-wing examples. Let's not.

    The interesting thing, to my mind: left-wing hatred is the water in which the MSM goldfish have been swimming for years now. They consider it unremarkable, so they do not remark upon it.

    Or, as Instapundit puts it: "Democrats feel righteous indignation. Only Republicans can be guilty of hate."

  • The flip side of a biased detection of "hatred" is efforts to suppress or chill it. Michael Barone sees the seeds being planted for "The Coming Obama Thugocracy". Barone sees higher ed speech codes as the most likely model to be followed:

    Today’s liberals seem to be taking their marching orders from other quarters. Specifically, from the college and university campuses where administrators, armed with speech codes, have for years been disciplining and subjecting to sensitivity training any students who dare to utter thoughts that liberals find offensive. The campuses that used to pride themselves as zones of free expression are now the least free part of our society.

    Obama supporters who found the campuses congenial and Obama himself, who has chosen to live all his adult life in university communities, seem to find it entirely natural to suppress speech that they don't like and seem utterly oblivious to claims that this violates the letter and spirit of the First Amendment. In this campaign, we have seen the coming of the Obama thugocracy, suppressing free speech, and we may see its flourishing in the four or eight years ahead.

    No surprise for anyone who reads the FIRE website.

  • But now for something completely different:

    Aaaaah, I feel better now. (Via Cute Overload.)

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:19 PM EST

The Phony Campaign

2008-10-12 Update

McCain maintains a slimming lead over Obama:

Query StringHit CountChange Since
"John McCain" phony1,130,000-70,000
"Barack Obama" phony1,100,000-40,000
"Bob Barr" phony40,400-9,900

Some of the links behind all this phoniness:

  • Christopher Buckley (son of the late WFB, Jr.) announces his vote for Obama in an article at The Daily Beast. After declaring his previous admiration for McCain, he notes:
    But that was—sigh—then. John McCain has changed. He said, famously, apropos the Republican debacle post-1994, “We came to Washington to change it, and Washington changed us.” This campaign has changed John McCain. It has made him inauthentic. A once-first class temperament has become irascible and snarly; his positions change, and lack coherence; he makes unrealistic promises, such as balancing the federal budget “by the end of my first term.” Who, really, believes that? Then there was the self-dramatizing and feckless suspension of his campaign over the financial crisis. His ninth-inning attack ads are mean-spirited and pointless. And finally, not to belabor it, there was the Palin nomination. What on earth can he have been thinking?
    Leave it to a Buckley to use an 11-letter word ("inauthentic") where a 5-letter word would do ("phony").

    But isn't Obama, in all his unalloyed leftiness, precisely the opposite of what a National Review writer would want?

    … President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves. If he raises taxes and throws up tariff walls and opens the coffers of the DNC to bribe-money from the special interest groups against whom he has (somewhat disingenuously) railed during the campaign trail, then he will almost certainly reap a whirlwind that will make Katrina look like a balmy summer zephyr.

  • Dafydd ab Hugh responded to Buckley's article. With respect to the paragraphs quoted above, he rebuts:
    So Obama is a "lefty," Buckley says, who has called for raising taxes, throwing up tariff walls, and opening the treasury of the Democratic Party to "bribe-money from the special interest groups" that he has railed against -- "disingenuously;" but worry not, because he doesn't really mean it and won't actually enact it. Its only purpose is to get him elected by promising everything. And after all, "Who, really, believes that?"

    But at least Obama is authentic.

    Right. For Buckley, the contest is between someone he thinks is phony, and someone he hopes is phony. Which reminds me …

  • Fun Free Google Fact: "the triumph of hope over experience" garners 32,700 hits, and if I were a betting man, I'd bet this number is about to go up, a lot.

  • But speaking of "authenticity", Melanie Phillips provides a good summary of Barackrobatics on the Ayers matter:
    Obama is twisting and turning over his relationship with unreprentant [sic] Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers, trying to pretend it didn’t amount to anything other than a chance acquaintance. But his story becomes ever more preposterous.
    Ms. Phillips can smell the "authenticity" all the way from England. You can tell, because the headline is "An absence of candour to believe in".

  • I was drawn to the headline in this article:
    Dion looks a doofus while Harper is Mr. Nasty
    What the… Oh. It's Canada. "Dion" is Stéphane Dion, Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition in the Great White North, while "Harper" is Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of that same alleged nation.

    So why do they show up here, other than to illustrate that Canada has its own problems? Barbara Yaffe, the article's author, brings us in at the end:

    Bashing an opponent is the mother's milk of politics. American Democrats certainly have been trashing John McCain during the presidential campaign; but have you noticed?

    Whenever Barack Obama is personally asked about McCain, he takes the high road, exuding respect. It's as phony as a $2 bill, and it works.

    Numismatic note: Here in America, the two-dollar bill is not phony. But even in Canada, although two-dollar bills have long been withdrawn from circulation, they're not phony either.

  • Speaking of phony currency, it turns out that what America needs is an 18-cent piece, which would replace the dime. This would increase the efficiency of change-making, requiring an average of 3.89 coins in change per transaction, compared to 4.70 coins per transaction under the current system. Really.

    (Canada, on the other hand, needs an 83-cent piece. Where do Dion and Harper stand on this issue?)

  • An 18-cent piece would make this practice a lot easier:
    The Hebrew word for "life" is הי (chai), which has a numerical value of 18. Consequently, the custom has arisen in Jewish circles to give donations and monetary gifts in multiples of 18 as an expression of blessing for long life.

  • But what would we call this new coin? I would (based on the above) call it the chaim. Anyone who has seen Fiddler on the Roof knows how to pronounce it. And since it replaces the dime, existing song lyrics could be easily updated:
    Once I built a railroad, I made it run,
    Made it race against time.
    Once I built a railroad; now it's done.
    Brother, can you spare a chaim?

  • Do not, by the way, pronounce Hebrew-chai the same way as chai-as-in-tea. Or vice-versa. Either way, you'll sound like a rube trying to put on airs. Not that I would know that from personal experience or anything.

  • Whoa. How did I wind up talking about that? Oh, wait, let me check…. Yeah, I thought so:
    People who are depressed have trouble concentrating and find themselves struggling to think clearly. They will also have memory issues.
    So stay tuned for more of the same! Probably for years to come!

Last Modified 2014-12-01 1:20 PM EST

URLs du Jour


  • Powerline notes:

    • Sarah Palin was a member of the Alaska Independence Party in the 1990s! Big MSM news, widely reported. Only problem: not actually true, and retractions were made.

    • Was Barack Obama a member of the "New Party", an offshoot of the Democratic Socialist Party of America in the 1990s? Approximately zero MSM interest in pursuing that.

    The skids are, indeed, greased. (Read Captain Ed for a nuanced treatment of the issue.)

  • In that same vein, John Leo relates how an MSM report of a couple bad apples at a Sarah Palin rally gets amplified to turn her into the second coming of Hitler.

    The Palinator is coming to our neighborhood next week, but it sounds as if she'll be difficult to see. If I go, I'll wear my brown shirt in order to fit the preferred narrative.

  • At Contentions, Jenifer Rubin spies an anomaly: CNN is investigating the ubiquitous voter fraud being abetted by ACORN, and Obama's ties to the group.

    Of course, it's too bad that this occurrence of actual journalism is anomalous. Betsy (of course) has more on ACORN's activities, and Iowahawk covered the recent legal activity on their behalf:

    ST. LOUIS - Attorneys for the voting registration organizations ACORN and Project Vote filed an anti-discrimination voting rights suit in the U.S. Federal District court this morning, alleging the United States government is involved in "a widespread, systematic effort to disenfranchise Imaginary-Americans and deprive them of access to polls."

    "Participation in our electoral process is a fundamental right, and the foundation of our democracy," said ASDF ASDFG, a spokesperson for the National Association for the Advancement of Imaginary People, one of the groups named as plaintiffs in the class action. "We will not be silent when government denies people access to the polls on the basis of color, or sex, or existential status."

    Read the whole thing. Because it's better to laugh than cry.

  • And now for something completely different: I got 106/195 on this country-naming quiz. Missed some embarrassing ones, but … geez, there's a lot of them. See how you do, no cheating now! (Via BBspot, who claims he got 119.)

Carol Shea-Porter's Most Excellent Earmark

Our local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, headlines one of its articles today "Shea-Porter visits teen center she helped keep open". It begins:

DOVER [NH] — As she walked around the Dover Teen Center on Wednesday, watching people play pool and Guitar Hero, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter smiled and said "It's nice to see this."
And why is that?
Shea-Porter used an earmark earlier this year to secure $233,000 in federal funds to ensure the center will remain open full-time for three years.
Oh. So why was that necessary?
The teen center was closed for more than two weeks this summer after the City Council could not find money in the budget to keep it open.
In other words: the people elected to decide how to allocate money incoming from local taxpayers to various city activities decided to spend it on other things. To say that they "could not find the money" is euphemistic and obfuscatory. They made choices, and those choices did not include funding a full-time teen center.
The first-term Democrat said the funds represent New Hampshire taxpayers' money and communities like Dover should receive their share of tax dollars for such programs.
The utter foolishness of sending "taxpayers' money" to Washington simply for the purpose of shipping a "share" back to local governments for politically-favored projects is left unexamined. If Congresswoman Shea-Porter were really concerned about "taxpayers' money", how about sending it directly back to the taxpayers? Or—even better—how about not taking it away from them in the first place?

But that would allow people to make their own choices with that money. They might choose to fund the teen center, but they (horrors) might not. Hence, Congresswoman Shea-Porter would prefer to make that choice for them.

The story goes on about how wonderful it all is (e.g., a lot of kids playing Guitar Hero on "one of the center's large, flat-screen televisions") It's essentially an unpaid ad for Congresswoman Shea-Porter's current re-election bid. For anyone with old fashioned notions about limited government, Federalism, inefficiency, and corruption, it's depressing.

It sent me off to reread Frédéric Bastiat's essay "The State", and I recommend it to you. First published in 1848, much of it reads as if it was written in response to today's newspaper stories, including the one discussed above. A few of Bastiat's examples are quaintly out of date; nearly every one can easily be replaced with an equivalent current example.

Bastiat longs for a "good, simple, and intelligible definition" of the state. After much flowery and funny writing, he proposes one:

The state is the great fictitious entity by which everyone seeks to live at the expense of everyone else.
Today, this fictitious entity is backed by a powerful secular religion whose adherents believe in the state. And they believe to as great a degree as any humble Christian believes that his Redeemer liveth. And so we get stories about the believers (e.g., our fine local newspaper and its reporters) and the narcissistic priests and priestesses (e.g., our fine Congresswoman) who steer the great fictitious entity to shower magical largess on favored people and activities.

URLs du Jour


  • I didn't watch the debate last night, Mrs. Salad and I opting for Lars and the Real Girl instead. Everything I've read tells me that this was a good call. However, news reports say that John McCain made a valiant effort to cheer me up. In the sense that I will now feel much better about his defeat:

    Scrambling to repair his image on economic issues, Senator John McCain proposed during Tuesday night’s debate a $300 billion plan authorizing the treasury secretary to buy the mortgages of homeowners in financial trouble and replace them with more affordable loans.

    It's the New York Times, so one has to engage automatic rewrite: for "repair his image" replace with "remind people why he can't be trusted."

  • So I won't be disappointed so much about McCain losing, but Thomas Sowell reminds me why I wish that didn't involve Obama winning.

    The old phrase, “a man of high ideals but no principles,” is one that applies all too painfully to Barack Obama today. His words expressing lofty ideals may appeal to the gullible but his long history of having no principles makes him a danger of the first magnitude in the White House.

  • The Saturday Night Live skit that dared to mention Democrats' involvement in the Fannie/Freddie meltdown has been "edited" and put back up at Hulu. Official NBC spokesweasels claimed "elements" of the original "didn't meet our standards." Betsy Newmark provides more details, which do not reflect well on Lorne Michaels.

    The edited version no longer refers to Herb and Marion Sandler (who sold their S&L to Wachovia for $24 billion-with-a-b) as "people who should be shot." The Sandlers apparently raised a fuss. Ironically, NBC's self-censorship will probably give the Sandlers much more unwanted publicity than if they'd simply let things slide. (They can certainly afford to let things slide.)

    There's now (however) a SNL Bailout C-Span Video Skit website where you can see the original as it played on the show, plus plenty of links to news stories that cover the controversy. The website appends a "Fair Use Notice" which, although I am not a lawyer, is almost certainly laughable. But, below that, this might give an NBC lawyer pause:

    Legal Threats


    Please call +1 206 456 1414 or email snlbailout@spamarrest.com to make legal threats, I'm very interested in deposing Lorne Michaels, the Sandlers, Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, and George Soros.

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:35 PM EST

Lars and the Real Girl

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

Why, yes. This was my second Patricia Clarkson movie in a row. Good catch.

Lars (Ryan Gosling) has serious psychological problems, living alone in a converted detached garage, next to the family house currently occupied by his brother and sister-in-law. He's become withdrawn, gravely afraid of interaction with other people, including physical contact. So he goes ahead and buys this sex doll off the Internet, and …

I know. This doesn't sound like a very good movie. But the critics liked it, and so I decided to check it out. It's very good! The actors are uniformly excellent. The (Oscar-nominated) script is clever, taking several unexpected twists with ease.

Credulity is strained somewhat. The inhabitants of Lars's small, apparently Midwestern, town are uniformly decent and supportive, which might be just a tad romanticized. Lars's mental illness is only slightly more debilitating than that of Elwood P. Dowd's in Harvey. (Which, come to think of it, would make a pretty good double feature with this movie.)

[Note: the Pun Salad commercial sellout continues. The DVD box is now an "Amazon Associates" link, which will cut me in if you click on it and buy the DVD. Sorry.]

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:23 PM EST

Pun Salad Sells Out!

I've put a Google ad strip over there on the right.

(No, your right.)

If you see something that interests you, click away. In theory, they'll send me money if you do.

But that reminds me of an old Simpsons quote:

Marge: I really think this is a bad idea.

Homer: Marge, I agree with you -- in theory. In theory, communism works. In theory.

URLs du Jour


  • David Friedman explains his political blogging POV to the confused. He's not supporting either major party, and hands out brickbats and huzzahs as the situation demands. I liked this:

    Most people are not very interested in political, economic, historical matters. But most people do enjoy cheering for their team. So political arguments, especially online during an election year, are populated by a lot of people who are arguing not because they are interested in the ideas but because it is a way of fighting for their side. It is natural enough for them to assume that everyone else is doing the same thing.

    That attitude is fine for David, and more power to him. Pun Salad (on the other hand) will admit to liking one team better than the others, and it's not much of an effort to detect which one.

    But even the most devoted fan will boo when their team stinks up the ballpark.

  • Saturday Night Live had a skit on Saturday that actually dared to skewer some Democrats over the bailout: Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, George Soros. I watched, it was funny. And kind of a relief from the usual leftish slant of the show. (Dubya showed up, but mainly as a minor irrelevant bumbler, out of the loop.) Comments Jennifer Rubin: "you get the sense that the writers there know more about the subprime mortgage mess than the network news division."

    But after being on Hulu for a bit, the sketch was pulled down. Michelle Malkin finds this suspicious. (What, did Olberman threaten to quit?) She also has a transcript of the skit.

    Channeling Instapundit: "They told me if George W. Bush were re-elected, controversial opinions would be mysteriously suppressed—and they were right!"

    (Ah, now that I look, Glenn actually phrased it differently.)

  • Google has allegedly added a new feature to Gmail: "Mail Goggles" which they phrase delicately as a barrier to "sending mail you later regret". But what they really mean is: setting up a sobriety test. You need to solve some math problems before the mail goes out.

    I say "allegedly" because when I check my settings where they claim the feature can be enabled, I don't see it. If it were April 1, I'd say it's a clever joke.

    In any case, unfortunately, I can solve math problems just fine when drunk. I lose the ability to type before I lose the ability to calculate.

  • [Cathy
Poulin] We note that Pun Salad's unofficial and (most importantly) unpaid mascot, Cathy Poulin, will be making an appearance in Dedham, MA on Saturday, October 11, in celebration of the opening of a new Bob's Discount Furniture. If you're in the area, and love Cathy as much as we do, you know what to do. (Bob himself will be on the scene Friday, but… are you kidding? Go Saturday.)

    Cathy was also in the news recently giving a Really Big Check to Lancaster Street Catholic School in Leominster, MA. This story refers to Cathy as Bob's "sidekick", but please: longtime fans know that it's Bob who is Cathy's sidekick.

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:24 PM EST

Married Life

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

Well… not my cup of tea. You might like it, though.

Set in 1949 America. Harry (Chris Cooper, who is 58 years old) is married to Pat (Patrica Clarkson, 48) but secretly canoodling with Kay (Rachel McAdams, who is 32 today; happy birthday Rachel). He confesses to his best buddy Richard (Pierce Brosnan, 55), who himself becomes smitten with Kay. Although Harry wants to be free of his wife, he doesn't want to put her through the agony of divorce. So he resolves, humanely, to murder her instead.

There's a lot of good acting talent here. (I think Pierce Brosnan is an underrated actor, given his Remington Steele/James Bond history.) And if you like period sets, costumes, props, atmosphere, it might appeal to you as well. But the movie is sort of a comedy of manners, where what the people say is more important than what they do, and—aieee, kind of a spoiler coming up here, watch out, stop reading—they wind up not doing very much at all.

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:25 PM EST

URLs du Jour


  • I regret using the term "unrepentant terrorist William Ayers" yesterday. Google says that's become an overworked cliché with about 90,700 hits. From now on, I'll try to be more original. How about "proud but fortunately incompetent would-be murderer William Ayers"? Does that work better for you?

  • Obama's response to the Ayers stuff (expressed via surrogates) seems to be:

    • Hey, only a racist would bring this stuff up!

    • Hey, I just remembered! I didn't know about all this bomb stuff!

    • Hey, our kids just go to school together!

    My favorite is that last one, since:

    It’s an obvious fiction …, since the Obama children are presently in elementary school, while Ayers’ children are all grown adults …

    Come on, MSM, even I can do this: "What did you know? When did you know it? And what did you do when you found out?"

  • Desperately watching your 401(k) dwindle? Looking for some fast cash? Preferably some that doesn't involve hard work or mental activity? Cracked reviews "5 Retarded Get-Rich Quick Scams (People Still Fall For)." Hint: those 2am infomercials may be misleading.

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:41 PM EST

Son of Rambow

[Amazon Link] [3.5
stars] [IMDb Link]

If there ever was a movie that needed a "don't try this at home" disclaimer, this is probably it.

Two British boys, Will and Lee, are outcasts at their school. Will is a member of a hyper-religious sect, the Plymouth Brethren. He's forbidden to watch TV. We're shown, however, that he has an active imagination and unusual creativity, having covered page after page in his Bible with illustrations and flipbook animations.

Lee, on the other hand, is the school's bad boy, a perpetual miscreant. He's also a budding filmmaker, itching to make a movie to enter in a contest for kids.

Naturally, events conspire to throw them together. Will happens to watch Lee's bootleg copy of First Blood, a revelation that transforms him into an enthusiastic creative partner/actor/stuntman in what turns into a First Blood sequel. That "stuntman" part is what will make any parent wince and squirm; Lee's movie requires that Will engage in a good deal of what the MPAA terms "reckless behavior."

It's funny and charming, a good choice for your multicultural movie night.

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:26 PM EST

URLs du Jour


  • Craig Newmark excerpts an amazing bit of a CNBC interview with Warren Buffet where he was asked about where things went wrong with the "regulation" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
    Mr. BUFFETT: Well, it's really an incredible case study in regulation because something called OFHEO was set up in 1992 by Congress, and the sole job of OFHEO was to watch over Fannie and Freddie, someone to watch over them. And they were there to evaluate the soundness and the accounting and all of that. Two companies were all they had to regulate. OFHEO has over 200 employees now. They have a budget now that's $65 million a year, and all they have to do is look at two companies.
    … and maybe you can guess what happened, but if there's the slightest doubt in your mind, click on through.

    If you have a strong belief in the benevolent omnipotence and omniscience of government regulation, perhaps Buffet's comments will make you at least an agnostic, if not an atheist. (Via Marginal Revolution.)

  • David Bernstein notes the Associated Press methodology for reporting on Obama's ties to unrepentant terrorist William Ayers. It appears to involve the AP reporter handing his keyboard over to an Obama flack so that campaign talking points can be typed directly into the story.

  • Stephen Green quotes Ms. Jane Smiley:
    Every time I think of William Ayers, I also think of John McCain, because they are of the same era, and they both believed in the efficacy of violence.
    Every time I think of Jane Smiley, I also think of Curly Howard, because even though they are not of the same era, they both share the same problem:
    "I'm tryin' to think, but nothin' happens!"
    (Should you be in the mood for lengthy screeds, previous Pun Salad posts on Ms. Smiley are here and here.)

Last Modified 2008-10-05 8:27 PM EST

The Phony Campaign

2008-10-05 Update

Unaccountably, both major candidates lose phony hits this week:

Query StringHit CountChange Since
"John McCain" phony1,200,000-70,000
"Barack Obama" phony1,140,000-100,000
"Bob Barr" phony50,300+5,900

Let's also do this, in honor of the VP debates:

Query StringHit Count
"Sarah Palin" phony405,000
"Joe Biden" phony354,000

I know. That seems ridiculously low for Joe Biden.

  • Because number one on the Google hitlist for Joe is Betsy Newmark's blog post "Joe Biden's phony reputation." It is a first-class collection of links and analysis of Biden's "knowledgeable and experienced" performance at the debate, which (in the quoted words of Mark Steyn) involved "complete blithering balderdash and hogwash."

  • Betsy's post mainly involves important stuff on foreign policy. But true phonies can inject inauthenticity into trivial matters too. When Palin invoked "everyday working Americans", Biden sputtered:
    Look, all you have to do is go down Union Street with me in Wilmington or go to Katie's Restaurant or walk into Home Depot with me where I spend a lot of time and you ask anybody in there …
    That got a lot of wily Wilmingtonians trying to figure out just where "Katie's Restaurant" was. Upshot: it hasn't existed for over twenty years.

  • Maybe Joe was still thinking about Katie Couric, with whom he and Sarah interviewed recently. Was he phony there, too? You betcha. His answer to Her Royal Perkiness's question about the "wall of separation between church and state":
    The best way to look at it is: look the every state where that wall's not built. Look at every country in the world where religion is able to impact on, uh, the governance. Almost every one of those countries, there's real turmoil.
    David Friedman does a fact check:
    Perhaps I missed it, but where is the turmoil in England, where Anglicanism was the established religion when the Constitution was written and still is? In Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Lichtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Vatican City and parts of Switzerland where Catholicism is the established religion? In Denmark, Norway and Iceland where Lutheranism is the established church? In Greece where the official church is Eastern Orthodox?
    David's conclusion (where he refers to Biden's previous reality-challenged remark about FDR getting on the television to console the public during the stock market crash):
    It isn't surprising that Biden doesn't know about the established churches in Scandinavia, although that England has an established church is hardly an obscure historical fact. What strikes me here, as with the FDR comment he made earlier, is the impression that, faced with the need for facts to support his current argument, he simply invents them. He was presumably thinking of Muslim countries, which do not, with the notable exception of Turkey, have any principle of separation of church and state. But his argument required that almost all other countries follow the U.S. pattern, so he simply assumed it. That's a little disturbing—and reminds me a bit of Bush.
    Pun Salad personally has no problem with a state Church, as long as that state church is the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.

  • But there's plenty of phoniness at the top of the ticket as well. Here's another reason why McCain's phony numbers are so high:
    Despite insisting several times during the first presidential debate that he had never won the U.S. Senate Miss Congeniality award due to his maverick, no-holds-barred legislating style, John McCain was recently revealed to have twice secured the much-coveted congressional superlative during his four terms in office.
    This sort of transparent fabrication… well, it's not surprising why the voting public is so cynical.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 1:20 PM EST

Experimental Results


This week's test of the Sunday Basic Cable Movie Actor Theory:


That's right, friends: no movies from Will Smith, Bruce Willis, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, or Morgan Freeman on FX, TBS, TNT, USA, A&E, Spike, or AMC today. So, after 33 consecutive weeks, our theory is refuted.

If only I'd thought to add Denzel Washington!

[Update: Or Gene Hackman!]

Last Modified 2008-10-05 4:14 PM EST

The NYT: All the News That Fits, With Room for Added Apostrophes


But with all those reporters dumpster-diving in Wasila, I imagine they can't afford the first-string proofreaders.

(Fixed now.)

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:27 PM EST

URLs du Jour

2008-10-03 (AM Edition)

Generally, Pun Salad tries to stay in the attitude expressed by Mr. Elvis Costello: "I used to be disgusted and now I try to be amused." Pun Salad fails on that score today, being pulled right back to disgusted.

  • John Cochrane is Myron S. Scholes Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. He writes pungently on the bailout plan, including a vivid analogy:
    There is a storm out on the lake, and some of the boats are in trouble. Commodore Bernanke has been helping to bail water from some boats until they can patch themselves up, encouraging other sound boats to help, and transferring passengers on sinking boats to others. But it’s getting tough and the storm is still raging. Someone has a great idea: let’s blow up the dam and drain the lake! Ok, it might stop the boats from sinking, but there won’t be a lake left when we’re done. That’s the essence of the Treasury plan.
    And yet, the plan is on greased skids for passage. Broad bipartisan support, both McCain and Obama voting in favor. Oy vey!

  • In contention for the most futilely-named organization in Washington DC is "Taxpayers for Common Sense." They provide a list of the top 10 "sweeteners" in the bailout. Number one is "Sec. 503. Exemption from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for use by children."
    Current law places an excise tax of 39 cents on the first sale by the manufacturer, producer, or importer of any shaft of a type used to produce certain types of arrows. This proposal would exempt from the excise tax any shaft consisting of all natural wood with no laminations or artificial means to enhance the spine of the shaft used in the manufacture of an arrow that measures 5/16 of an inch or less and is unsuited for use with a bow with a peak draw weight of 30 pounds or more. The proposal is effective for shafts first sold after the date of enactment. The estimated cost of the proposal is $2 million over ten years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

    The Oregon senators were the initial sponsors of the provisions. According to Bloomberg News, the provision would be worth $200,000 to Rose City Archery in Myrtle Point, Oregon.

    Yes, in the flotsam and jetsam remaining after the sinking of our Titanic economy, our godlike legislators have smiled upon Rose City Archery; its heart will go on. And who is to say that our financial renaissance will not be launched via the manufacture of arrows that measure 5/16 of an inch or less and are unsuited for use with a bow with a peak draw weight of 30 pounds or more? Not me, bubba.

  • Of course, you don't actually have to pass legislation to screw things up. Not if you are Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
    "We don't have a lot of leeway on time. One of the individuals in the caucus today talked about a major insurance company. A major insurance company -- one with a name that everyone knows that's on the verge of going bankrupt. That's what this is all about," Reid said prior to the Senate's approval of the $700 billion bailout bill.
    Stocks of insurance companies plunged in response. But the next day:
    A spokesman for Sen. Reid backtracked a bit Thursday and said that the senator was not aware of any company being in danger of bankruptcy.

    "Senator Reid is not personally aware of any particular company being on the verge of bankruptcy. He has no special knowledge about [a bankruptcy] nor has he talked to any insurance company officials," said Jim Manley, spokesman for Sen. Reid, in an email to CNNMoney.com.

    "Rather, his comments were meant to refer to the conditions in the financial sector generally. He regrets any confusion his comments may have caused," Manley added.

    Backtracked … a bit?

  • Prof Bainbridge comments appropriately:
    It would be laughable, if it were not so tragic. After 16 years of watching Clinton and Bush screw up in the White House and decades of watching both Republican and Democratc [sic] Congresses, I did not think it was possible for me to hold the political class in greater contempt that I already did. The bailout bills have left me with an even loathing of the hacks of both parties than ever.

  • Pun Salad is struggling with the most accurate analogy to apply to the Federal Government trying to "fix" the economy.
    • Irritable chimpanzees set loose in the control room of a nuclear reactor.

    • Children in a fireworks factory with an ample supply of matches.

    • Swan Lake, as reimagined and performed by the offensive linemen of the New England Patriots.

    • Madonna coaching the New England Patriots, whose offensive line has been replaced by the Bolshoi Ballet.

    We'll work on this over the weekend.

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:42 PM EST

URLs du Jour


  • Jonah Goldberg, always pretty quick with a depressing fascistic historical parallel, compares the Smith College student who claims Obama as her "Personal Jesus" (which may or may not be parodic) with actual "Progressive" behavior from the previous century.

  • Mickey Kaus notices the financial bailout was attached to a completely sane proposal:
    … the entire package was attached to legislation requiring insurers to treat mental health conditions more like general health problems, a long-sought goal of many lawmakers who demanded such parity.
    As Mickey says, the message seems to be: "We helped bankrupt the banks. Now we're doing the same thing for health care!"

    By piling yet another mandate on private insurers, this will inevitably cause premiums to increase, making health care less "affordable". It very much fits the "Cloward-Piven Strategy" we blogged about Monday: bring the system to collapse and chaos, in order to eventually bring about the "progressive" goal of socialized medicine.

  • Enough depressing news for one day! I'm not a big gamer, but this YouTube game demo is pretty awesome. (Via Tech Liberation Front.)

  • Excerpts from the latest episode of CSI: Rochester NH:
    Wednesday, Sept. 17

    8:43 a.m. — A man is on the playground at Maple Street School, talking to himself and carrying a suitcase. He could be a ventriloquist perfecting his act. Police arrive in minutes but find no sign of him, although he is wearing a red and white Dr. Seuss hat.

    12:34 p.m. — A bearded man in a red shirt comes into the YMCA, asks for help, announces that they won't understand, and leaves.

    2:11 p.m. — A bearded man in a red shirt come into William Allen School to ask questions about guidance counselors and the National Guard. He has gone when police arrive.

    4:41 p.m. — Police check on two unoccupied vehicles at Haven Hill Park on Route 11. One man is looking for a cat that was lost five miles away, but, as he observes, cats can walk pretty far. Another gentleman is looking for turtles and a third has entered the wood "to take a leak." Michael S. Dickie, 51, of 109 Woodland Green is charged with drug possession.

    Thursday, Sept. 18

    11:29 a.m. — Police check out Haven Hill Park, but find no cats or turtles.

    5:53 p.m. — On Church Street there is a cat with a bag on its head running around, and described as "a sad sight." Police respond and let the cat out of the bag.

    Friday, Sept. 19

    2:27 a.m. — On Meaderboro near Four Rod, two small horses are reidentified as donkeys. Farmington PD are soon on the tail of the asses and help to head them back down to Vickery Farms.

    Saturday, Sept. 20

    11:08 a.m. — Police check on a vehicle on Blackwater Road, to see if magazine subscriptions are being sold from it, illegally, but discover it is a Shaheen campaign worker.

    Sunday, Sept. 21

    12:34 a.m. — Above the sounds of a disturbance on Norway Plains Road comes the cry, "Give me the weed."

    12:13 p.m. — At Chestnut Hill Road MHP, a man "never seen before" sits in a blue lawn chair sucking on a beer. Nearby, a parked van bears the inscription, "Praise him." Whether this refers to Sam Adams or a higher power is unknown.

    1:16 p.m. — No turtles or cats observed at Haven Hill Park.

Last Modified 2017-12-05 6:17 AM EST

URLs du Jour


  • A large number of bloggers have noted Instapundit's posting from an anonymous correspondent at "a major newsroom." It's worth reading, if you've otherwise missed it.
    Off the record, every suspicion you have about MSM being in the tank for O is true. We have a team of 4 people going thru dumpsters in Alaska and 4 in arizona. Not a single one looking into Acorn, Ayers or Freddiemae. Editor refuses to publish anything that would jeopardize election for O, and betting you dollars to donuts same is true at NYT, others. People cheer when CNN or NBC run another Palin-mocking but raising any reasonable inquiry into obama is derided or flat out ignored. The fix is in, and its working.
    Do I smell a theme for the day? Maybe, let's see…

  • Ann Althouse reports on a CBS transcript of a Sarah Palin interview that just happens to mistranscribe her words in such a way to convey the false impression that she thinks homosexuality can be prayed away.

  • Jonah Goldberg notices something odd in the media coverage of the bailout bill's (temporary?) failure in the House:
    … you know what I haven’t seen in all of the coverage of the bailout-blow-up? I haven’t seen a single interview with a Democrat who voted against this deal. I’ve seen interviews of Republicans who’ve voted for it. I’ve seen interviews of Republicans who voted against it. And, of course, I’ve seen interviews with the Democratic leadership in which they blamed the Republicans who voted against it but not the 94 Dems who voted against it.

  • Gwen Ifill, the moderator of the upcoming Biden-Palin debate, has a book coming out on Inauguration Day, entitled Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. That's a pretty impressive conflict of interest. Among the commenters are Michelle Malkin and Captain Ed. But you'll want to click through to (of all publications) the Christian Science Monitor for the picture illustration, which made me laugh out loud. Or LOL, as the youngsters say.

  • And, conflict-of-interestwise, that's not all.

  • Viking Pundit also comments on the phenomenon, with special attention to his recent edition of Newsweek.
    The first picture of Obama (p. 5) has a sun-dappled candidate, smiling and waving to cheering fans from his campaign bus. On the next page, there is absolutely the worst possible picture of McCain, scowling on an airplane as journalists swarm around him. The caption: "Risky Business." No subtext here, folks, move along...we're all objective journalists.

  • If I hadn't long ago canceled my Boston Globe subscription, I could have read today an editorial about how "Wasilla made rape victims pay" for hospital emergency-room rape kits and examinations. Only problem is: that's not actually true.

  • The Globe is owned by the New York Times Co., whose share price, as I type, has lost slightly over two-thirds of its value over the past five years.

    (As fugly as the overall stock market has been of late, the S&P500 index is up about 11 percent over the past five years.)

    Come on guys, you're two-thirds of the way there! You can do it!

  • Fortunately, all those good folks will almost certainly engage in business as usual under an Obama administration. For anyone else seeking to utilize their First Amendment rights, however, Andrew McCarthy indicates the news might not be good.

Last Modified 2008-10-04 2:26 PM EST

The Forbidden Kingdom

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

This is really quite good.

Southie teen Jason is obsessed with kung-fu movies. One fateful night he gets coerced into a robbery attempt against the old Chinese man who supplies him with obscure bootleg DVDs of Bruce Lee flicks. He somehow hits a supernatural portal that flings him back to ancient China, and he's tasked to restore a weapon to the Monkey King, who long ago was tricked and immobilized by the evil Jade Warlord.

Brother, I can relate. Because that sort of thing happens to me all the time.

Jason picks up a ragtag bunch to assist in his quest: drunken master Jackie Chan, somber monk Jet Li, and a vengeful young girl named "Golden Sparrow" played by Yifei Liu. And so they set out on their peril-filled and scenic voyage…

There's a lot of humor and spectacle, and it's just a huge amount of fun watching these guys. I think Jackie Chan should get an Oscar for this. I'm not kidding, either.

Okay, maybe what he does is not, if you insist on being pedantic, "acting." But there should be some category: "Best Performance for Doing That Kind of Thing That Jackie Chan Does". And Jackie Chan would win. Maybe not every year, but definitely this one.

Last Modified 2012-10-10 1:28 PM EST