The Phony Campaign

2012-10-14 Update

[phony baloney]

While the gap continues to narrow, President Obama maintains his comfortable lead with 23 days to go:

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Barack Obama" phony 6,240,000 -210,000
"Mitt Romney" phony 2,350,000 +240,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 604,000 +52,000

  • In honor of the veep debates this past week, how is the phony matchup going there? Ask and you shall receive:

    Query String Hit Count
    "Paul Ryan" phony 1,180,000
    "Joe Biden" phony 882,000
    "Jim Gray" phony 524,000

    It's close, but Ryan actually has the lead. I must admit that I did not expect that.

    (And now you trivia buffs know the answer to: "who is the Libertarian Party's vice-presidential nominee?")

  • Thomas Sowell reflected this week on the "Phony-in-Chief".

    When President Barack Obama and others on the left are not busy admonishing the rest of us to be "civil" in our discussions of political issues, they are busy letting loose insults, accusations, and smears against those who dare to disagree with them.

    Like so many people who have been beaten in a verbal encounter, and who can think of clever things to say the next day after it is all over, President Obama, after his clear loss in his debate with Mitt Romney, called Governor Romney a "phony."

    Professor Sowell goes on to detail some embarrassing history of Obama's 2007 rabble-rousing speech at Hampton University, and how it contrasted with his actual voting record.

  • Jay Nordlinger's Impromptus column this week aimed most of the phony fire at Obama. Unsurprising, but he recollects the lapel-flag controversy from the last election.

    Obama is a little funny with his lapel pin -- the American flag. Once, it was on. Then Obama took it off. He said he didn't want any of that phony patriotism. He wouldn't wear his patriotism on his sleeve, or his lapel. Others who did so were phony-baloneys. Then he put the flag pin back on. It can be so confusing, keeping track of Obama's moods and principles.

    First he's for gay marriage. Then he's not. "The union of a man and a woman, only." Then he's back on again.

    Anyway, my question: If Obama loses the election this year, will he ever wear an American-flag pin again? Or will he be free of it? Is the pin just "boob bait for Bubbas," to use a once-famous phrase of Senator Moynihan?

    My bet is: he won't wear the flag pin whether he wins or loses. Because, as he noted to the Russian president back in March: "After my election, I have more flexibility."

  • Via Matt Welch at Reason, we also have a Jack Shafer column as a must-read: "Why we vote for liars". It's very much a plague-on-all-your-houses column, noting truth behind the no-longer-funny joke "How can you tell when a politician is lying? His lips move."

    Shafer's a little too tough on Romney, not tough enough on Obama. But his main point is on target and relates to a different saying, the one about when you point your finger, there are three pointing back at you:

    The pervasiveness of campaign lies tells us something we'd rather not acknowledge, at least not publicly: On many issues, voters prefer lies to the truth. That's because the truth about the economy, the future of Social Security and Medicare, immigration, the war in Afghanistan, taxes, the budget, the deficit, and the national debt is too dismal to contemplate. As long as voters cast their votes for candidates who make them feel better, candidates will continue to lie. And to win.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 3:00 PM EST

The Five-Year Engagement

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

Here's what I want to know: has there ever been an actor as lucky as Jason Segel? Although I'm probably not qualified to say, he doesn't strike me as a chick magnet. George Clooney he ain't. And yet, his career has found him canoodling with Alyson Hannigan, Amy Adams, Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis,… and here, Emily Blunt.

I know, it's just acting. But still. If Jason Segal doesn't wake up in the morning with tears of gratitude running down his face as he reflects on his good fortune, I swear I will hunt him down and kick his ass until he does.

Anyway: here, Jason—I call him Jason—plays Tom, a gifted and aspiring chef in San Francisco. He's been going out with Violet (Ms. Blunt) for a year, and (in an impressively romantic setup that he manages to endearingly botch) he pops the question. Of course, Violet's answer is yes.

But you did notice the movie's title, right? Violet is hoping for a post-doc at Berkeley in her field of experimental psychology. That doesn't work out, but she gets one almost as good at Michigan. So Tom and Violet postpone the nuptials, and head off to Ann Arbor. Violet blossoms, but Tom has to settle for deli work (albeit upscale deli work). Tom's frustration and resentment continue to grow, reflected in Violet's nagging guilt and dissatisfaction. The not-unpredictable happens.

This movie is from the Judd Apatow factory, and bears most of his trademarks: a supporting cast that's hilariously raunchy, some darker serious notes about infidelity and mortality, and an overall old-fashioned moral theme about love and commitment. It's over two hours long, and feels it in parts, but overall enjoyable. And the ending is sweet enough to make your teeth hurt.


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

Stieg Larsson's posthumous success with the Girl series has opened up the field for Scandinavian crime thrillers. This Norwegian movie is based on a novel by Jo Nesbø and it's pretty good.

Roger Brown makes a decent living as a corporate headhunter. But he's insecure—really—about his height and maintaining his beautiful, much taller wife in an expensive lifestyle. So, with the help of a confederate placed in a security service, he's turned to a side career as an art thief.

A risky choice! And Roger finds that even the occasional Munch lithograph theft can't keep up with his budget for spousal maintenance. But he hears that a recent hiring prospect has possession of a long-lost Rubens original work. That could be the big score that would set him up for life! But, as it turns out, it just sinks him rapidly into a horrific tale of murder, betrayal, and totally implausible technology. The pale Norwegian body count keeps going up.

Rated R for "bloody violence including some grisly images, strong sexual content and [mostly pale Norwegian] nudity." The MPAA rating doesn't mention a particularly disgusting (albeit non-gory) scene that had both Mrs. Salad and I averting our sensitive eyes. But it's fun and well-crafted, with unexpected plot twists and some bits of very dark comedy.

Last Modified 2012-10-27 9:10 AM EDT