Barackrobatics: Dimewatch X

Pun Salad has noticed (for about a year now) that President Obama's use of the word "dime" is a reliable signal of dishonesty, deception, delusion, or general incoherence. Last Thursday's news conference proved to be no exception to the rule. Speaking from prepared remarks about the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico:

The American people should know that from the moment this disaster began, the federal government has been in charge of the response effort. As far as I’m concerned, BP is responsible for this horrific disaster, and we will hold them fully accountable on behalf of the United States as well as the people and communities victimized by this tragedy. We will demand that they pay every dime they owe for the damage they’ve done and the painful losses that they’ve caused.
Emphasis added. And as expected, we don't have far to look for something jarringly out of place. For the very next thing the President uttered was:
And we will continue to take full advantage of the unique technology and expertise they have to help stop this leak.
Hm. BP totally screwed up in a massive show of deadly incompetence, and we're relying on them to fix things.

The entire press conference was permeated with that kind of rhetorical schizophrenia. Obama accepts full responsibility, except that everything was really the fault of some Bush holdovers he hadn't got around to ferreting out yet. The Federal government's response was fast, except when it was slow. It was competent, except when it wasn't. We're relying on BP expertise, except when we aren't.

And, hey, didya know that the Secretary of Energy has a Nobel Prize in Physics?

The real Barackrobatic howler (pointed out by Taranto):

My job right now is just to make sure that everybody in the Gulf understands this is what I wake up to in the morning and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about: the spill.
I can't improve on Taranto's comment:
Obama's job description is fascinating. He has been depicted as a proponent of "activist government," but this may be a bum rap. Now he tells us he thinks that if he somehow gets people to think about him and how much he's thinking about what he thinks they think he should be thinking about, his job is done.
President G. H. W. Bush was roundly mocked for saying "Message: I care" during his 1992 re-election campaign. (Just down the road a bit, in Exeter N. H., as it happens.) It was taken as a gaffetastic acknowledgement that his Administration was more interested in shaping public perceptions than actually doing anything.

But don't expect similar treatment for Obama when he says a similar thing. Albeit less coherently.

(Previous episodes of Dimewatch here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here. and here.)

Hope I Die

… before I get old:

  • Happy Birthday to Mr. Clint Eastwood, turning the big Eight-Oh today. From the Big Hollywood comments:
    I know what you're thinking. "Did he turn 80 or only 79?" Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this cake has almost two full 44-packs of Magnum Birthday Candles, the most powerful candles in the world, and you would have to blow so hard to put 'em out your head came clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?
    Also, stay off his lawn.

  • There's P. J. O'Rourke content over at the Weekly Standard, in which Peej modestly proposes a new feature that might help the dying newspaper sector, the pre-obituary: "official notices that certain people aren’t dead yet accompanied by brief summaries of their lives indicating why we wish they were." One missed opportunity is Paul Newman:
    Paul Newman (1925-2008) was not, in and of himself, a bad person. But he deserved to be damned to his face for lending charm to the smirk of liberalism. And after he’d become an immortal only a heartless writer would have pointed out that for an entire generation of young people, Paul Newman is, mainly, a salad dressing.
    Ouch. And I forgive P. J. for slagging The Who, still 50% alive.

  • George F. Will dismisses President Obama's proposal for government spending reform as "frugality theater":
    Obama's Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act confirms the axiom that the titles of bills, like the titles of Marx brothers movies ("Duck Soup," "Horse Feathers"), are utterly uninformative. The act would aggravate a distortion of the Constitution that has grown for seven decades, enlarging presidential power by allowing presidents to treat spending bills as cafeterias from which they can take what they like and reject the rest.
    Will notes that the proposal (a) might be unconstitutional; (b) would almost certainly be ineffective; (c) and would encourage Congressional irresponsibility. "Other than that, though, it's fine!"

    At Cato, David Boaz adds on his own commentary:

    But Will doesn’t take the cheap shot of dubbing the bill the RUSe Act. He left that for us. A ruse is “a wily subterfuge” or “a deceptive maneuver” — a perfect description for this misleading bill offered in response to growing public concern over federal spending.

  • One more Memorial Day link? Don't miss this fine poem at GraniteGrok by Derek MacMillen Kittredge, about greeting returning troops at Pease.

Last Modified 2010-05-31 6:59 PM EST

Iron Man 2

stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A rare solo trip to the megaplex, as Mrs. Salad had no interest in seeing Iron Man 2. A decent crowd was in attendance for the Sunday noon showing.

In this episode, Tony Stark/Iron Man is initially riding high, having brought to the world a Pax Ferricanus. (Yes, I made that up.) He's also super-obnoxious about it, which is only bearable by our knowledge that he's about to be brought down more than a couple pegs. In drab and snowy Moscow, Ivan Vanko (played wonderfully well by Mickey Rourke) is his opposite number, looking for vengeance against the Stark family for perceived injustice to his father. A grandstanding U. S. Senator (Gary Shandling) is looking to expropriate the Iron Man technology. A rival arms dealer (Sam Rockwell) aims to take down Stark by fair means or foul, and he's kidding about the "fair" part.

And Tony has his own little problem he's keeping to himself.

As always, Iron Man is the true geek hero. Tony Stark has no superpowers, other than his scientific/engineering genius, undiminished by his hard-partying ways. And nobody's quicker with a wisecrack. It's a lot of fun, marred only by the sloppy, perfunctory inclusion of the Black Widow character, played by Scarlett Johansson.

But I can give no fewer than five point zero stars to a movie where the hero upbraids a Senator: You want my property? You can't have it!

I saw the teaser trailer for Super 8, produced by Steven Spielberg, directed/written by J. J. Abrams. Apparently it involves Roy Neary driving his repair truck into a train shipping one or more very mean aliens from Area 51 to Ohio. I would buy my ticket right now, if I could, but it's not coming out until next summer.

In other trailer news: The A-Team looks awesome; The Last Airbender looks spectacular, but could well be spectacularly stupid; Adam Sandler's Grown Ups is a good bet to be dreadful.

Last Modified 2012-10-03 2:00 PM EST

Memorial Day 2010

Mark Helprin has a suggestion for how we might best honor the fallen of the past, present, and future. Check it out.