Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
August 27, 2008 - August 20, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

YouTube Wednesday:

Forums, Funny Things, Etc.

Obama's little temple to himself

TODAY'S LESSON. So many people have been having fun with this that there's no point adding to the pile with more comments about arrogance, hubris, and narcissism. Instead, we'll just show you some of the video associations people are making -- and close with a couple of our own.

Over at the National Review, they were reminded of the Stonehenge scene from Spinal Tap.

HotAir thinks this episode of Star Trek is relevant.

We thought of this very dramatic scene in the HBO series Rome...

...Although it's also possible Obama won't be quite as commanding as Octavian Caesar.

Well, that's about it for now. Here's our closing credit sequence for this post -- and maybe for the Democratic Convention, too.

The End.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Have you had your nausea for the day?

LET US PRAY. Here, thanks to Peter Wehner of National Review, is the worst example yet of the deification of ZERObama. All these celebrities are so solemn, so devout, so wrapped up in their own self-righteousness that you really will want to reach for the vomit bag. But try to, er, gut it out by picking your favorite parts. For example, I just love to see old sixties radical retreads like Joan Baez resurfacing in this context. Has-beens like Barry Manilow and Cyndi Lauper jumping on a portentous new bandwagon are likewise hilarious. And I was genuinely touched by the snippet of video showing a father saying a final farewell to his unborn child before mommy goes to the clinic for her partial birth abortion. On the other hand, I feel embarrassed for Forrest Whittaker -- but also kind of tickled by the fact that I simply don't recognize a bunch of the others who display the exaggerated cool of those who believe they're superstars. Who the hell are these "stars"? Maybe one of you could compile a list and share it with us.

All tricks, I grant you, to get you through a very unpleasant experience. But you really do have to watch the whole thing.

More Trouble in Obamatopia

THE KEITHMASTER. Apparently, things are hotting up big-time at the Olbermann Network. After getting profanely dissed by the Keithmaster in an open mic debacle at the Democratic Convention last night, former Republican Joe Scarborough now seems to believe that he's about to be fired from MSNBC. So why not ruffle a few feathers on his way out? The YouTube clip above is an excellent example of what happens when a news organization quits the news business for a fiercely partisan perspective of one kind or another. It's long but well worth watching. (For those who don't ever tune in to MSNBC, the blonde at Scarborough's left is Zbigniew Brzezinki's chic Marxist daughter Mika.)

And here's John Gibson's radio take on the whole flap, informed by his own prior experience with Olbermann and the news network he now runs. Liberal tolerance is its own reward. Thank goodness the rest of the MSM isn't like that.

You really couldn't make this stuff up.

Hillary Bows to [Sort of]

Okay. So Hillary's boobs aren't this big. But tonight, she stuck out her
chest and made them seem this big. Like she was poking her nipples
in the eye of every man in America, including Barack Hussein Obama.

. A crowd-stirring winner of a speech that accomplished its goal -- making the Democrats wonder if they hadn't chosen the wrong candidate.

Some notes in no particular order:

Herself. You've got to admit the woman has some great cheekbones. And after eight years in the White House and one term-plus in the U.S. Senate, she's finally got her hair right. I'm not meaning to be sexist about this. It's as if running for President has actually caused her to blossom into a real, estimable identity. (Her policies are still nonsense, but you can almost believe her when she says she's a proud American. I'm just saying.) I hate to admit it, but there's actually something beautiful about her. And her delivery was flawless. Great timing, enunciation, and audience contact.

Hubby. When she came on stage and the cameras zoomed in on Bill, I honestly believed there for a minute or so that Bill really does love her. There was a light in his eye that hasn't been there for a long time. A glimpse of reality? Or more proof that the Clintons are deep-down scary fakers? Don't know. Can't say. But it looked real.

Chelsea. She narrated the pre-speech video tribute to her mother. A Stanford graduate. A veteran campaigner at this point. So why is it that everyone under the age of 30 always sounds luded out -- swallowed consonants, tepid tone, I'm just reading what somebody else wrote for me, the emotional range of a guppy.... God save us from these kids. It used to be they had the monopoly on passion, if not logic or knowledge, and I'm tired of the allowances we keep making for their stumbling imitations of adult discourse.

Michelle. Early on in the speech, they kept cutting back and forth between Hillary on stage and Michelle in the audience. Mrs. O looked grim, sour, suspicious, her usual self, until about 15 minutes in. Then she began to smile. Apparently, she failed to discern that the speech was Hillary's opening gambit in the 2012 campaign, after Obama loses. And if Hillary can fool Michelle, she can fool the rest of the Democrats too. She's working hard for what's his name.

Bottom Line. Women's Studies 401. The advanced course. Despite the required endorsement rhetoric, the speech had almost nothing to do with Barack Obama and everything to do with cementing Hillary's place in the long march of feminists toward commanding political power. She even managed to coopt the entire civil rights movement into the women''s movement by substituting Harriet Tubman and her work on the Underground Railroad for the Martin Luther King iconography Obama will be leveraging in his ballpark speech. Absolutely, unbelievably brilliant. She's the New Age female messiah, regardless of what happens in this election cycle.

And yet she said nothing any Obama supporter could take exception to. The Clintons. All one can do is slowly shake the head back and forth and chuckle. It really is always about them. God bless America, and all its heroes and hellraisers. God save America. From all its heroes and hellraisers.


Monday, August 25, 2008

The Madonna SS* Tour

*Yes, it's here: The Madonna Stinky & Sweaty Tour. Getting ready to
perform at the Denver-Democrat Protester Holding Cells. Prison skag.

THE POOR SACRIFICIAL LAMB. My only question is, Does she really think this will help?

CARDIFF, Wales (AP) - Even at 50, the queen of pop just can't stop courting controversy.

As Madonna kicked off her international "Sticky and Sweet" tour Saturday night, she took a none-too subtle swipe at the presumptive Republican nominee for U.S. president.

Amid a four-act show at Cardiff's packed Millennium Stadium, a video interlude carried images of destruction, global warming, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, Zimbabwe's authoritarian President Robert Mugabe - and U.S. Senator John McCain. Another sequence, shown later, pictured slain Beatle John Lennon, followed by climate activist Al Gore, Mahatma Gandhi and finally McCain's Democratic rival Barack Obama.

The rest of the show had the usual Madonna fixtures: sequins, fishnets, and bondage-style outfits drawn from the 3,500 items of clothing reportedly whipped together by 36 designers specifically for the tour. Dancers sauntered across stage in top hats and tail coats, and Madonna tried her hand at break-dancing and pole-dancing. [emphases added]

So we have a multimillionaire pop star who: 1) affects Nazi dominatrix pornwear; 2) made her pile in the United States before exiling herself to the stuffy imperialist nation from which the country of her birth fought a war to free itself; 3) adopts a ludicrously affected version of the aristocrat-Brit accent in order to persuade people that she isn't the gutter whore she proudly proclaimed herself to be in her youth; 4) succumbs in middle age to the 21st Century version of the Ginger Rogers Syndrome, turning herself into a stringy anorexic hermaphrodite in a vain attempt to pretend she isn't getting old; and then 5) presumes to portray herself as a legitimate political voice of the egalitarian aspirations of the American people.

Just a few more years and she'll have mastered the infamous Oxford stutter.

Wow. It's one of those phenomena that's so macabre I doubt many people will remark on it. What can you say?

It's not controversy she's courting. It's raucous, contemptuous laughter.

Does she really imagine that Mahatma Ghandi would have welcomed her skeazy support? (We're not passing similar judgment on Obama. His fake black preacher accent could easily have been inspired by the chameleon courtesan's shameless affectations.) Does she think that her propaganda would cause anything other than a sardonic snort from George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and John McCain?

Honestly, who out there doesn't know in their heart of hearts that she's just a stupid, ungrateful, pretentious golddigger slut with no loyalty or faithful affiliation of any kind except to the appetites of her purse and other private parts?

Not a rhetorical question. Tell us. We really want to know who thinks this floozy has something important to communicate to the rest of us.

An exemplar of virtue as progressive American liberals define it. But
is she truly what 51 percent of Americans regard as virtue? NSFW.

We're not holding our breath.

Tough Guys

Bednarik and the glamour boy.

WE WIN. Nobody has to get this post but one guy in Vegas. I got so sick of Howard Cosell in the booth with Frank Gifford slandering Chuck Bednarik for the titanic hit that put Gifford out of action for more than a year. Cosell had a tendency to idolize athletes. Sometimes it served him well, as it did with the admirable loyalty he showed Muhammed Ali during his long, ridiculous suspension from boxing. Other times, it verged on sycophancy, as it did with Gifford.

We've written a lot here about Philadelphia Eagles football. It's 120 miles from New York in statute miles and a million miles away in terms of character and meaning. Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx can pretend they're tough, but the truth is they're spoiled extras in gangster movies compared to the real tough guys of Philadelphia. Not opinion. Fact. The Yankees are overpaid prima donnas. The Mets are a Yuppie affectation. The Jets are a one-hit wonder that's never produced an album you'd put in your car radio. The Football Giants are the best the five boroughs have to offer (though they play in Jersey) -- sometimes nearly as tough as the Eagles, despite all the slavering, unctuous treatment from the press they get when they're actually winning -- but the Giants are NOT in the Quintessential League, which includes only those teams which have endured from the beginning, the ones with a take-no-prisoners mentality shared equally between the team and the fans. Few franchises are left in that league -- the Eagles, the Bears, the Packers, and the Steelers.. The toughest of the tough. Even if you win the game against them, you're going to hurt for weeks afterwards. And they'll get you back, sooner or later. Compared to them, every other NFL team is, in historical terms, just a bunch of pussies. (Forget your carping. The Colts and the Browns ran away from their hometowns, the Raiders are still too young, and the only time Detroit was ever tough was when they had Bobby Layne.)

You see, it's not about always winning. It's about always taking new energy from catastrophe. always making the other team pay, eventually, no matter how old the grudge. And fans who, just like the team, never ever EVER forget.

If you think this is an old-fashioned and obsolete mentality, wait till the teams the Snootytown Patriots humiliated last year get them by the neck this year and next year. There will be no mercy. There will be revenge. Sometimes you just have to lay the other guys out with a hammer. That's the Bednarik Way.

So this is an Eagles salute to an old Philly friend who just sailed though his third open-heart surgery with flying colors. No damn metrosexual western doctor can kill a true Philly tough guy. Which is why I'm going to break with personal tradition here and play a song by the guy my friend loves and I, increasingly, can't stand. Which is ironic. Because he's the Philly guy and I'm the Jersey boy, which is where the a__hole Springsteen is really from. Oh well. What we do for friends.

Rob. This is for you. An anthem for the next chapter of your life. The NFL's last 60-minute player, Concrete Charlie Bednarik, has nothing on you. Show no mercy.

Get well soon.

Michelle! Teddy!

There was nearly enough room on the stage for Michelle and the Swimmer.

MOTHERS ARE GREAT. Didn't you just love the footage of Teddy on his three-masted frigate in Cape Cod bay? I know I did. And the glory of drop-dead gorgeous Michelle Obama finally acknowledging her incredibly deep love for America even though "the world won't do." It sends chills up my leg.

Okay. I'm kidding. I won't pretend any longer. Teddy should have spent the better part of his life in prison, not getting (further) inflated by Ken Burns and the MSNBC crowd. Whatever else he's done, he remains responsible for the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, the forgotten woman who died while he was puzzling out his future political career on the river bank. Sorry. I remember all that. He's a shit.

And Michelle Obama isn't like you or me. She got a full-boat ride at Princeton and then had the nerve to write her illiterate thesis about how awful it was to get a full-boat ride at Princeton. Go Tigers. She makes $350,000 a year at a hospital, without being a doctor (and without having to show up for work apparently), and she's resentful about having to pay back her student loans.

Democrats. Why do so many people identify with these schmucks? Without exception they are aristocrats or parasites and sometimes both.

Here's what I want to know. If we elect Barack Obama, can I have a three-masted frigate? Can I have a $350,000 a year job I don't have to be there Monday morning for? If so, sign me up.

Oh. That's right. It's not about Michelle or Teddy. Is it? It's about Barack Obama. Our Savior. He doesn't have a frigate. He doesn't have a $350,000 a year job. He didn't even go to Princeton. Thank God. (But scratch the frigate and the hospital featherbedding sinecure. Darn.)

Who is he, then? I guess that's the question America is still asking. He's not a businessman. He's not an executive -- of a state, a city, or even a village of the sort Hillary thinks it takes to raise a child. He didn't go to Princeton like his wife. Go Tigers. Thank God. So he must be okay. Right?

Right. It's all okay. He's a leader. An alpha male statesman. Even Condoleeza Rice is so wet for him she acknowledges that he "might very well be the messiah, the answer to all our prayers, just like Colin Powell, J.C. Watts, and Vernon Jordan said." So maybe Obama should just club Teddy in the head and bend his wife over the podium to show us what a real man he is. Except that if he tried it, she'd beat the living shit out of him.

Wouldn't she? Didn't he tell us she's the boss? Hasn't she proved it time and again?

Feel better? I know I do. Teddy! Michelle! Barack America!

If any of you out there are buying this crap, I feel sorry for you. And, sadly, I know that approximately 50 percent of you are buying it. Teddy wouldn't have appeared on the same stage with Michelle if he thought her picture wouldn't be squeezed as much as necessary to make room for his bloated carcass. And he knew that under the circumstances, Mary Jo being Catholic and dead and all, Michelle wouldn't push back too hard about what a privileged SOB had done to a non-Princeton girl who never got pregnant enough to have an abortion -- or a baby who had to be stuffed in a closet because it failed to die during her abortion. You see how it all works out.

Jesus. God, how I adore those color-blind humanity-loving Democrats.

Is anybody else already sick to death of post-racial politics? Just asking.

P.S. All right. I have to come clean. I remember the night Teddy's brain tumor made the news. All the conservatives on Fox News said nice things about him, even called him a great man. He's NOT a great man. Nothing on earth can make him one. He's a corrupt old hypocritical lying bastard, and when he dies I won't rejoice, but I sure as hell won't feel that we've lost a great patriotic statesman. We'll have lost the last unspeakable loser of a family of thugs whose combined crimes against the nation (beginning with Nazi-sympathizer Joseph P. Kennedy) would have made Don Corleone's brood look like a Franciscan monastery.

And as for Michelle... I wouldn't want to sit next to her at a dinner party. Would you? Be honest now. You can't? Okay. That's called the Brady Effect. Look it up. Me, I'd much rather sit next to Viveca Fox.

Friday, August 22, 2008

It's Whose Election to Lose?

Politicians hate to admit it, but campaigning is a sales process.

MORE REASONS. You know how it is when you hear something a hundred times without really listening and then, suddenly, on the hundred-and-first repetition you go, "No. Wait a minute. That's total nonsense."?

That's how I'm feeling right now about the meme that "This is Obama's election to lose." No, it isn't. It's McCain's. And I think I can prove it. So bear with me for a bit of background exposition and I'll make it all clear.

When I finally realized I had a gut-level objection to this meme, I found myself remembering a great salesman I knew in the computer business twenty-some years ago. He was hugely successful selling against the most powerful sales force in American industry at the time, the blue-suited army of IBM. Those were the days when the truism that best characterized IBM's hegemony went like this: "Of the Fortune 500 companies, 492 have IBM mainframes, and the other eight are computer companies." Yet Bert, as I will call him, consistently sold large-scale software products into IBM environments against directly competitive IBM products. Eventually he quit the rat race to become a Miami-based sales consultant offering very expensive sales training courses to the companies who couldn't figure out how to beat IBM. I worked for such a company. Time after time, our sales reps got our offering onto the buyer's short lists and then lost, without any reasonable explanation, to IBM. Our product was clearly superior, slicker, faster, more flexible, and competitively priced. But we lost. Almost always. Company executives were tearing their hair out.

If you're a Democrat, this is a scenario that should sound familiar -- remember Dukakis, Gore, Kerry...? Way up in the polls until late in the day, and then a grinding, disappointing, downward course to electoral defeat. Why?

Bert introduced our sales force to something he called the Sales Cycle Matrix. It looks like this:

The nine boxes show everything that's relevant to the purchase of a large-scale computer system. He taught our people to fill each of the boxes with the advantages and disadvantages our products offered to individual major accounts. He also used the matrix to teach them why they lost so frequently:

The blue X's indicate the emphasis of most sales efforts. Our products perform brilliantly in operation. They have all kinds of neat bells and whistles. They make the competition look sick. And we're reasonably priced, too. When they get an enthusiastic reception, the reps schedule glamorous demos, which make everyone feel good, and before you know it, they've made the short list.

You'll note that the matrix also works pretty well for consumer decisions like buying a new car. It's beautiful, it's got dozens of dazzling features, it makes me feel good to drive it, I can just see myself behind the wheel, and I can afford to buy or lease it.... Hurray.

BUT. As the actual moment of decision approaches, the buyers begin to shift their focus to other boxes in the matrix:

It's an attractive product and they like it, but as they get closer to a personal commitment, they begin to worry about their own personal exposures and vulnerabilities. A computer system is at its most visible and potentially destructive of individual careers when it's being implemented and when it breaks. This is when the unknowns begin to supercede the feature bells and whistles in importance. CHANGE IS RISK. Who are you? We don't know your company. We've never done business with you before. How do we know you won't leave us in the lurch and put all our careers in peril for having taken the risk of buying your product? But the sales reps tend not to recognize the shift. They've gotten such great feedback from their product presentations and demos that they keep talking about the same things that succeeded in getting them on the short list in the first place. And the real underlying sales process passes right over their heads and under their radar until, inevitably, they lose.

Again, the new car analogy is useful. People fall hopelessly in love with Jaguars during test drives. But, statistically speaking, they rarely buy them. Because Jaguars break. They aren't reliable. They have no resale value. The test drive is a doomed infatuation. Unless you're so rich a Jaguar isn't transportation but fashion, it's simply not a viable choice. You buy the Lincoln or the Cadillac instead. Not as deep-down sexy, perhaps, but at least it's an automobile that can get you to and from work every day.

Bert made his sales by anticipating the risk factors and addressing them before his customers did. He carried an implementation plan in his briefcase, specific, detailed, thorough in its capacity to relieve the decision makers of any sense of personal risk. That's why he topped out every sales compensation plan for every company he ever sold for. IBM didn't have the implementation plan, Usually they didn't need it. They were IBM. They would muddle though, somehow, and nobody would get fired in the process. They were consistently mediocre, perhaps, but they still posed little to no risk. And that's why they won so often.

In terms of the current election, McCain is IBM. He's MicroSoft Windows versus an incredibly slick, high-tech freeware Linux tweak, a Cadillac Fleetwood versus a hybrid Jaguar-Bugatti stretch limo. He's the stolid, unexciting, known quantity that definitely won't transform your sex life, but he also won't leave you helpless and confused on the shoulder of some dangerous back road.

Obama has all the bells and whistles, automatically and continuously adjustable leather orthopedic seats, 2,000 horsepower, spinner wheels, the lowest profile tires ever engineered, a billion terrabytes of computing and graphics memory, next-generation 3D multimedia showmanship, and absolutely no track record for dealer maintenance, parts availability, or certified mpg or crashworthiness testing.

God, how people loved the demos and test drives. Their hearts were singing. They were in love with the features and functions. But now we're on the threshhold of the shift to the risk boxes. What happens if the product just isn't, finally, viable? What if it crashes with all of us on board? What then?

That's the point at which voters will begin to ask all the questions the sales force -- i.e., the MSM -- hasn't bothered to address. Who knows this guy? Who can really vouch for him? Is he NHTSA or IEEE tested? Does the promised product actually exist in some form other than a cobbled together prototype? Is he a visionary genius or just a sorry coked-up loon like Delorean? What if it's all really an elaborate con job? Because if he isn't more substantial than all the glitzy bells and whistles, we could all pay for it in very real terms -- a broken economy, porous national security, corrupt government, spiraling taxes and inflation, a lot of failed fantastic schemes that don't mean a damn thing when you're trying to pay the bills every month and raise a family in a stable, steady community. Nobody likes a McCain but it always starts on a cold morning and the air-conditioner works in August.

Since the Vietnam War, Democrat presidential candidates have never produced a detailed implementation plan in advance of the election -- how voters will be protected from the failures of their most exotic ambitions -- and they have never even kept their most basic promises to customers when they were elected. Their early campaign promises are always bewitching, but they never recognize the moment when people start to get real and ponder the odds that pie-in-the-sky really can be had at low cost with little risk.

That's why the Democrats generally enjoy a huge lead right before the conventions and then -- in utter bewilderment -- watch it vanish before the first Tuesday in November. A Jaguar is its own kind of Utopia. Beautiful to dream about, but ultimately amost impossible to believe in. For all the people who know that rubber does meet the road sooner or later.

This election is McCain's to lose. It has been since he won the nomination. He may yet accomplish that improbability. But if Obama thinks he's defending an insuperable lead, we'll see him four years from now, two hundred pounds heavier, hawking his apocalyptic videos of "The Global Cooling Crisis."

But he won't be alone. That's pretty much the fate of most of the companies that believed they were about to beat IBM or MicroSoft at their own game.

Celebrity Cess

The Defendant and Alycia Lane, on set.

PHILLY FILLY. So today, Philadelphia anchorman Larry Mendte pleaded guilty to, well: count of illegally accessing a computer.

Larry Mendte admitted that he viewed hundreds of Alycia Lane's e-mails from March 2006 to May 2008, including ones from her agent, her then-husband and lawyers representing her after she was arrested in New York last year and fired from the station.

"There is no question he wrecked her career," said lawyer Paul Rosen, who represents Lane in her wrongful-termination suit against KYW-TV. [emphases added]

Of course, it's all great gossip. Larry Mendte's wife is also a Philadelphia anchor, at rival Fox 29. Who isn't comparing the two women and developing their own storylines?

Dawn Stensland (Channel 29) and Alycia Lane (Channel 3)

Yes, Larry is a Ted Baxter figure, a stereotype of the local anchor who adds brightly colored lead weights to his voice when there's a sad story without ever actually seeming to feel it. And the women involved are much the same. Every line on the teleprompter is/was freighted with a "look at me doing the news" sensibility that makes murders, arsons, and rapes into cheesy show business.

Why mention all this? Because it's simply not true that all local news people are shallow, two-dimensional narcissists. I can't remember all their names, but most of the local Philly newspeople aren't celebrities. They're devoted residents of their city doing a job. Many of them have aged from new college grads to late middle age on camera, growing grayer and heavier through the decades as they reported live from sordid murder scenes, awful weather emergencies, concerts, elections, and occasional sports triumphs to people whom they regard principally as their neighbors. I'll try to come back to this list and add to it, but at the moment I remember Robin Mackintosh, Don Polec, Edie Huggins, Carol Erickson, Terry Ruggles, Orien Reid, Jennaphr Frederick, Lisa Thomas-Laurie, Dave Roberts, Beverly Williams, Rob Jennings, Vernon Odom, and Cherie Bank, all faithful foot soldiers in a vocation that makes them subject to ridicule as we speak.

And being older than most, I remember the real anchors of Philadelphia local news, the men who became the hometown Cronkites and Brinkleys at the beginning of local TV news, always there, always dignified, always more cognizant of the news itself than their Q-Ratings. There was John Facenda on Channel 10, Vince Leonard on Channel 3, and Larry Kane on Channel 6. Not one of them a matinee idol in terms of physical appearance. Not one of them a star in his own mind. They were just responsible for reporting the news. What troubles me is how hard it is to find, in these internet days, pictures of men who were on our televisons every night for decades. Is it really so easy to disappear people who were so much a part of everyone's lives?

Here's what I've been able to find from their anchor days. I don't even recognize the picture of Vince Leonard because it's so very old.

Vince Leonard, John Facenda, and Larry Kane

Why are they slipping down the memory hole? John Facenda, in particular, is embedded in the brain of every single professional football fan over the age of 40. He was the voice of NFL Films (go here and listen to the audio file -- that's John Facenda) until he died.

Oh well. Fame is fleeting. That's our real message here. Celebrity comes and then it goes. What matters is not how pretty or popular you were, but whether you did anything for anyone else. Most of the local news professionals in Philly are engaged in discharging exactly that pursuit, serving their community for years at all hours and in every kind of weather. It's a pure shame they're being judged by the shallowest, callowest members of their business. But that won't last either. People always remember the good ones in the end -- and forget the fakers.

Besides, Philadelphia still has one anchor in the mold of Vince and John and Larry. How many other cities can say that? Maybe it's time we appreciated him a little more.

Jim Gardner, the Last Lion

Yeah, he's gotten gray. But we all believe he still cares about what happens in Philly. That's a lot better than a network contract in our book.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


The Incredible Disappearing Candidate

MORE TROUBLE. I don't know if you've noticed, but there's practically nothing left of Barack Obama. He has no intimate friends anymore: so many of them have been thrown under the proverbial bus that the term is about to be dropped from the MSM lexicon for overuse. His wife has been shoved off the stage and made over into a mannequin still life. He no longer has, apparently, any professional, school, or personal acquaintances, at least none that are allowed to speak to the media.

He no longer has any political positions unless you're of a mind to follow the evaporating contrails of what used to be positions. He strongly favors an immediate pullout from Iraq, but not really. He wants to have open diplomatic discussions with all world leaders, regardless of preexisting hostilities, but not really. He strongly favors much higher taxes on the rich, but not really. He's adamantly opposed to drilling for more oil in the United States, but not really. He's radically pro-choice on abortion, but not really. He's unalterably opposed to giving telecommunications companies immunity for cooperating with the Bush administration after 9/11, but not really. He wants to carry the War on Terror to Pakistan and get OBL once and for all, but not really. He thinks it's dangerous to rebuke the Russians too harshly for invading Georgia and defying NATO, but not really. He's a post-racial bridgebuilding candidate determined to put our long history of racial animus behind us, but not really. He's an agent of a brand new kind of politics, post-partisan, civil, and far above cheap attacks, negative ads, and dubious campaign contributions, but not really. Watch any of his latest public appearances and he seems to do little but snipe pettishly at Republicans, conservatives, and McCain. That's not change. It's tiresomely clicheed Dem politics.

Isn't it time to start adding all this stuff up? What's left of the man behind the glowing charismatic image? Is there any there there?

I've been waiting in vain for his MSM and blog supporters to come to grips with the new Obama and explain why he is still deserving of so much admiration and unwavering support. But the Obama of their cheerleading efforts is a lot like the Iraq War of their fevered imaginings -- a subject which can only be discussed in terms of the past. Their Obama is the Obama of the early campaign, hope and change and ringing oratory. I'm beginning to suspect they have no remaining reasons for supporting the new Empty Suit Obama except the same old old one -- he's not a Republican.

If they do have other reasons, I'd like to hear what they are. Because I'm under the impression the Democrats don't actually have a candidate for president, just the fading outline of one who used to be there but is no longer. And that's kind of discomfiting.

Who wants to see the Oath of Office taken by the Invisible Man?

Chinese Track & Field

The Chinese '119' Strategy: Mountains out of molehills.

FOLLOW-UP. If you're anything like us, you're wondering where all those Chinese gold medals come from. Why do most other nations have approximately the same number of silver and bronze medals as gold medals, while China has approximately double the number of golds compared to their silvers and bronzes?

The answer is actually quite simple. As part of its '119 Program' China has been fielding teams in events no one else even knows are Olympic Sports. It started with ping-pong, which everyone else in the world thought was a children's game. The Chinese decided sometime back in the days of Mao that it was their National Football League, which is why we still confront the ludicrously overblown spectacle shown in the YouTube video above. Who gives a flying f___ that there are people who play ping-pong as if they were on the center court at Wimbledon? No one. So China gets the gold medal while nobody else plays at all. Which is exactly the right response. And we're not suggesting any nation seek to change the situation.

But just for your information, we've compiled a list of some of the other sports China is "dominating" at the Olympics.

Left to right, from top row: China's Olympic teams for Chinese
Checkers, Caroms, Twister, Mah Jongg (Women's), Mah
Jongg (Men's), Quoits, Labyrinth, Tiddly Winks, and Jarts.

The only aspect of all this that might occasion some concern is the accumulating evidence that the Peoples Republic of China is taking this whole dimension of semi-sport way too seriously and possibly abusing children in the process. We've managed to procure some videos which are, in aggregate, more than a little alarming vis a vis Chinese training techniques.

Should children as young as one or two be conscripted into Olympic mah jongg training programs?

(Particularly in light of the enormous high-tech investment being made in big-league mah jongg infrastructure...)

And, yes, it is a pattern. Tibet is much in the news, but has anyone reported the shame of Tibetan toddlers forced into marathon caroms practices?

Or children who are inducted into the game of quoits by being compelled to become quoits?

This is the kind of sports-obsessed cancer that could easily lead to the quoit-subjugation of mere infants, even in our own supposedly enlightened nations. It just makes you sick.

And perhaps worst of all, what about the small children who get hijacked into the moral quagmire of Twister before they're old enough to know anything about "good touch/bad touch"?

It would seem that some very serious investigations need to be carried out into the entire Chinese Track & Field athletic program.

But does anybody really care?

We've thought about this long and hard, and we've come to the conclusion that we don't care. As far as we're concerned, China can get as many ping-pong and tiddly winks medals as it wants (as long as there's no stick-beating terrorism involved). That doesn't mean you couldn't get all fired up about it if you felt like it. You could start with a Jarts witch hunt. Why can't we see the teams's faces? Are they so riddled with Jarts puncture scars that we couldn't bear to see them? Are Jarts made of lead now? And why are dogs being systematically exploited in quoits training? And on and on. Don't get us started. The last thing we need is to get involved with some group of concerned world citizens based in San Francisco...

But what else do you have to do?

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