The Phony (and Scary) Campaign

2012-10-28 Update

[phony baloney]

The penultimate update to our phony poll. (And when I say "penultimate", I mean: "I hope I'm using that word correctly.")

Query String Hit Count Change Since
"Barack Obama" phony 7,010,000 +140,000
"Mitt Romney" phony 2,680,000 -190,000
"Gary Johnson" phony 665,000 +6,000

That's all well and good, but in honor of the Halloween season, how scary does the web find the candidates to be? Let's ask the Google:

Query String Hit Count
"Barack Obama" scary 122,000,000
"Mitt Romney" scary 86,400,000
"Gary Johnson" scary 860,000

  • Yes, we've done this before (2007). What a difference five years makes!

  • Unlike 2007, the "scary" hit counts are massively larger than the "phony" hit counts. What's that mean? Back then, we referred to the "Wizard of Oz" principle: people find these guys scary, but they're actually just phony.

    That was a light-hearted attempt to explain a much smaller difference. What now? Maybe months of negative ads predicting the dire results of the Other Guy winning has turned us into a nation of quivering sheep huddled in a dark corner?

  • The fear has (in fact) reached the highest levels. An actual AP news story from last year reported on Michelle Obama's confession to an audience of high school students.

    "I mean this is scary," she said. "Shoot, being married to Barack Obama? He's got big plans. He's always pushing us beyond our comfort zones, and I'm dragged along going, `What's he doing now? No, not this.'"

    Just think how the country feels, Michelle.

  • Both candidates are cowering before Mother Nature, according to Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, Ace Reporter for "Arutz Sheva", the Israel National News:

    "Frankenstorm" Sandy has scared the wits out of Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama as it churns northward, leaving death in its trail while the projected fury of the storm could leave 60 million people without electricity.

    Translation: the storm caused campaigns to alter their schedules. But give Tzvi some props for colorful writing.

  • It's not just Google that claims Obama has a scary lead over Romney:

    If presidential mask sales at Spirit Halloween stores across the country are any indication, Obama is in the lead with 63 percent versus Romney at 37 percent, said Lisa Barr, the company's senior director of marketing.

    Remarkably similar to Obama's 59/41 advantage in scary Google hit counts!

    Lisa goes on to say: "I would say people who are very passionate about politics typically buy a mask to support their candidates." This seems like Democratic wishful thinking to me.

  • Our theme today has uncovered yet another "that was then, this is now" Barackrobatic flip. Back in 2010: "Obama accuses Republicans of fear mongering":

    "Essentially, what the other side has decided is that they are going to try to ride fear and anxiety all the way to the ballot box on November 2," he said, at the event organized by the Democratic National Committee.

    Aaaand in 2012, … "Obama ad on Romney: 'It's a scary time to be a woman'"

    A new ad from President Obama and the Democratic National Committee raises fears about Mitt Romney's positions on reproductive rights.

    "I've never felt this way before, but it's a scary time to be a woman," says 30-something "Jenni." "Mitt Romney is just so out of touch."

    Fearmongering: it's reprehensible except when we do it.

    But of course, people aren't impressed by this transparent say-anything campaign are they? Even your typical Hollywood airheads wouldn't be caught dead echoing this hypocritical crap, would they?

    Oh, wait…

  • Find out the unexpected answer in the Politico article headlined: "Ellen DeGeneres: Mitt Romney is scary"

    And what if Mitt Romney wins instead? "If you're a woman, you should be very, very scared of that, for many reasons," she said. "And obviously as a gay person he doesn't believe in me having the same rights, so of course I'm not happy about that."

    Note: Despite her phrasing, I'm pretty sure Ellen did not mean to say, or even imply, that Mitt Romney is a gay person. I think Ellen is saying she's gay. (And I'm not sure, but I think I've heard that myself at some point in the past.)

Last Modified 2014-12-01 2:59 PM EDT

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

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

This is a nice little movie, which IMDB bills as a "Comedy | Drama | Romance", and Netflix genrifies as "Comedy, Romantic Comedies, Romantic Dramas, Dramas Based on Contemporary Literature, Dramas Based on the Book, United Kingdom".

The main characters are Dr. Alfred ("Fred") Jones (played by Ewan McGregor) and Harriet ("Harriet") Chetwode-Talbot (played by Emily Blunt). Fred is a low-level bureaucrat in the UK's Fisheries Department; Emily is a hard-charging consultant hired by Yemeni Sheikh ("Sheikh") Muhammed to do something totally impractical: engineer a waterway in Yemen in which salmon can run, breed, and be caught by intrepid fishermen.

UK troops are getting shot at and blown up in Afghanistan, so the the UK government, desperate for some good news out of the general region, swings its mighty weight behind the project. Specifically, the Prime Minister's Press Secretary Patricia ("Profane Bitch") Maxwell, (played by Kristin Scott Thomas) starts pulling the strings to make it all happen.

We get to know Fred and Harriet pretty well. Fred's in a passion-free marriage; he also has Asperger's. But (as I observed to Mrs. Salad during the movie), he's very high-functioning, so it's more like half-Asperger's. (Hah! I kill me.) Harriet has a boyfriend, a soldier conveniently sent off to Afghanistan just when Harriet and Fred start working closely on the project. And you see where this might lead, right?

There's some cynical commentary on British politics; some Yemenis are bitterly opposed to the project, and proceed in the way folks in that part of the world do when they disagree: attempt murder and sabotage.

Not bad, directed competently by Lasse Hellström, but it seems much longer than the 107 minutes claimed by IMDB. Movies labeled as comedies are usually funnier, but Emily Blunt is easy on the eyes, so it kind of evens out.