Archive for October, 2014
31 Oct 2014

Obama’s “Speeches Are Like Whale Sounds, But With Less Substance”

, ,

ObamaBoring

Jonah Goldberg delivered an excellent rant all about the national epidemic of Obama fatigue today via the Goldberg File email. (Since it can’t be linked right now, I quoted the whole Obama part.)

Obama fatigue is setting in. Indeed, I’ve gone from Obama fatigue through full-on Obama Epstein-Barr to end-stage Obama narcolepsy. I hear him talking, or hear some MSNBC-type rhapsodizing about how misunderstood he is, and I start dozing off like a truck driver who took the drowsy-formula Nyquil by mistake. “Gotta stay awake! This is my job!” But then 20 seconds later, Jonathan Alter starts telling me how misunderstood the president is, and suddenly orange traffic cones are bouncing off my truck’s grill as I somnolently drift into a highway work zone. You could fill a cereal bowl with broken glass and barbed-wire shards drenched in hot sauce right below my face. All it would take for me to use it as a pillow is a 30-second loop of Obama saying “Let me be clear.” His speeches are like whale sounds, but with less substance. I’d say they’re all white noise, but I don’t want to get called a racist.

This is a problem for a couple of reasons. First, as I said during that less-than-exquisite truck-driving simile, this is my job – or at least one of them (I don’t need to follow Obama’s doings for my side gig as chinchilla rancher). I can’t just tune out the president of the United States for the next two years like a normal, happy, well-adjusted American might. I can’t help but feel like Donald Sutherland in Animal House complaining to his bored literature students:

Don’t write this down, but I find Milton probably as boring as you find Milton. Mrs. Milton found him boring, too. He’s a little bit long-winded, he doesn’t translate very well into our generation, and his jokes are terrible.

[Bell rings, students rise to leave]

But that doesn’t relieve you of your responsibility for this material. Now I’m waiting for reports from some of you . . . Listen, I’m not joking. This is my job!

Hey, substitute “Obama” for “Milton” and that holds up pretty well.

This Should Be More Fun

Second, my Obama-narcolepsy is interfering with my Obama-schadenfreude. I for one find it nothing less than hilarious to watch liberal eggheads (both real and imagined), never mind Obama himself, spin elaborate theories for why Obama is not just unpopular but pretty much a failed president.

For the record, this designation – “failed president” – may be premature by objective and historical standards (though I don’t think it is), but his presidency is already in the books as a failure by the standards Obama set for himself. If you promise to turn water into wine and then just run out of water without providing any wine, there’s really no way to plausibly shout “Success!”

He wanted to transform America, not just via policy, but by restoring faith in government itself. He’s had some success on the former but has been a catastrophic failure on the latter, which means the policy successes aren’t nearly as secure as the Left thinks they are.

Speaking of catastrophic failure, rather than risk triggering your own Obama fatigue, watch this metaphorical recap of Obama’s attempts to transform America, as re-enacted by cats trying to jump.

It’s Not Him, It’s You

Explanations for Obama’s failures vary in their honesty and persuasiveness, of course. Mary Landrieu represents the more hackish end of the spectrum. Borrowing a line from the New York Times editorial board, Landrieu blamed it all on southern racism and sexism. In fairness, she was speaking specifically about Louisianans – you know, her constituents. But she helpfully managed to throw all of the South under the bus as well. Hey, if you’re going to go down in a blaze of glory, why be stingy with the kerosene?

Of course, the problem with this theory is that Obama is unpopular across America and in at least 43 states. Even the most generous definition of “southern racist” won’t get you that far in explaining his unpopularity in Wisconsin or Michigan. Moreover, for his numbers to be so bad, it means lots of people who voted for him once or even twice must now disapprove of him. Did all of these independents and moderate Republicans wake up one morning and decide to cut some eyeholes in their pillowcases and become Klansmen?

Other explanations are similar in their desire to place blame elsewhere. The fault lies not in Obama, but in ourselves. Let’s come back to this in a moment because I know exactly what you’re thinking right now. “Gosh, isn’t it about time Jonah quoted East German Communist playwright Bertolt Brecht?”

In Die Lösung Brecht famously quipped that if the people lose faith in the government it would be better if the government dissolved the people and elected another.

For progressives it’s always five minutes to Brecht-O-Clock. What I mean is this desire to fix the people, not the government always seems to be lurking behind liberalism. It was there when Woodrow Wilson said the first job of an educator is to make your children as unlike you as possible. It was there when Obama explained in 2008 that Hillary Clinton’s Pennsylvania primary supporters weren’t ready to vote for him because they were too busy clinging to their sky god and boom sticks. It’s the central theme of Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas? It was whispering in John Podesta’s ear when he said the American political system “sucks.” It is at the heart of the Voxy “explanatory journalism” craze, which holds that if you call proselytizing “explaining” it will help the rubes come to their senses. It runs riot in the mainstream media and their sovereign contempt for these stupid, stupid, Americans and their parochial “unscientific” concerns about an organ-liquefying disease (even as the MSM caters to those concerns for the ratings they deliver). It runs like an underground river through the White House’s national-security policies, as they constantly downplay the dangers Islamic terrorism (“ Let’s just call it ‘work place violence’!”) for fear of rousing the fearsome beast of public opinion on the side of the war on terror. It’s why the White House doesn’t want Congress to get involved in a deal with Iran, because Congress might actually listen to the people. It’s why the New York Times laments the “bumpkinification of the midterms.”

Obama Creates a Boulder Too Heavy for Him to Lift

Anyway, back to Obama-failure explanations. Some are more structural or formal. The Constitution holds us back. The presidency is too big for any one man. We can’t have great presidents anymore. Even president Obama has come around to this point of view. Here’s Jeff Shesol in The New Yorker:

Despite the grand hopes and hype of the 2008 campaign, this tempering of ambitions, this recognition — and acceptance — of the constraints on Presidential power has been a leitmotif of the Obama Presidency. In an interview with David Remnick published earlier this year, Obama talked about “that business about the great-man theory of history. The President of the United States cannot remake our society, and that’s probably a good thing. Not ‘probably,’ ” he added. “It’s definitely a good thing.” Over the years, Obama and his advisors have issued a long string of statements to this effect: on foreign policy, “ leading from behind” (2011); on the limits of executive authority, “there’s no shortcut to democracy” (2013); on civil rights, we must sometimes take “a quarter of a loaf or half a loaf” (2014).

Shesol is right, but it’s worth noting Obama’s learning curve has been steep. And he’s still climbing it. By my calculations, Barack Obama should be adequately qualified for his current job around 2072. But Shesol, like so many others, let’s Obama off the hook by blaming the system, not the man.

When Obama came into office, he thought it would be different. First, he got almost everything he wanted. These were the salad days when Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid served as de facto co-presidents. Then, as it dawned on him that he couldn’t just give a speech to fix a problem, he started complaining about his relative powerlessness. Over the years, the president has let slip countless times that he wishes he had the sort of power not afforded to presidents in a democratic republic. He riffed that he was envious of the power wielded by Frank Underwood in House of Cards (“This guy’s getting a lot of stuff done,” Obama said. “I wish things were that ruthlessly efficient”). He whined that the president of China has it so much easier. Yes, because the president of China can give a speech and things will change. You know why? Because he’s a dictator.

Get the Popcorn

Anyway, as the German sadist said after he signed up for his Amazon Prime delivery of special nipple clamps, “Back to schadenfreude.”

I should be enjoying all of this more. The wheels are coming off the very same bus that Barack Obama has been throwing people under for years. And, as Maimonides noted so long ago, it is very hard to throw someone under a bus if the bus has no wheels.

Watching Obama go around insisting that he’s fine with the way his fellow Democrats are distancing themselves from him all the while backhandedly nationalizing the election has been hilarious.

Even more amusing: watching all of these Democrats insist they don’t support Obama when they were perfectly happy to be part of the president’s entourage when he was popular. Now they’re all clearing out like the disco-partiers at Navin Johnson’s house after news of the Opti-Grab class-action lawsuit breaks .

And Shesol’s point about Obama’s learning curve notwithstanding, the president still seems incapable of rhetorically conceding that he’s a political albatross. A couple of weeks after declaring in a big speech that “every single one of my policies are on the ballot” he went on Al Sharpton’s radio show. “The bottom line is, though,” he said of vulnerable Dems, “these are all folks who vote with me; they have supported my agenda in Congress,” he told the tracksuit-wrapped-carbuncle. “These are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me, and I tell them, I said, ‘You know what? You do what you need to do to win. I will be responsible for making sure our voters turn out.’”

And then he started naming specific Democrats by name, starting with Michelle Nunn.

Sometime last year, Obama said that he dreamed of going full Bullworth so he could drop truth bombs on everybody. If you never saw Bullworth, good for you. But just so you know, it was a movie starring Warren Beatty. And, like all Beatty movies of the last 20 years, he spent most of the time under special lights that only illuminated his eyes, to minimize the staggering scope of his enormous forehead and clarify for audiences that he is not in fact Ned Beatty’s skinny kid brother. But that’s not important right now. What you need to know is that Beatty played a senator who had a kind of nervous breakdown and decided to keep it real and say what he really thought.

Substantively, Obama’s been doing that already. By saying this election is about his agenda, he’s in effect the most honest politician in America, at least on this issue. Essentially, he is saying the senators distancing themselves from him are opportunistic liars – and he’s right. Still, it would be more fun to see Obama go Bullworth on style, if for nothing else to see the New York Times headline: “Obama on Vulnerable Dem Candidates: ‘They All My Bitches.’”

31 Oct 2014

Halloween Group Therapy

, ,

Halloween-Group-Therapy

31 Oct 2014

Jeppson’s Malort

, ,

I’d never heard of this stuff before running into the ad yesterday.

——————————-

——————————-

RedEye Staffers taste Malort for the first time. 1:51 video

——————————-

14 things about Malort.

31 Oct 2014

Yage: Jaguar Catnip

, , ,

Yage is the Banisteriopsis caapi vine. Back in 1953, William Burroughs experimented with yage and wrote a series of letters to Allen Ginsburg describing his experiences with the hallucinogen (and with Peruvian boys, who rolled the old poof for his money, eyeglasses, &c.). I never had a chance to try this one myself, but the jaguar definitely looks happy.

Via IFL Science.

30 Oct 2014

Glass Meets Bullet

,

BulletGlass

30 Oct 2014

Walking in NYC

, , , ,

This week’s major viral hit is the video below documenting how an average-looking, not-especially-sexily-dressed woman receives 100 instances of street harassment in the course of a ten-hour stroll through New York City.

————————————

My millennial Facebook friends from Yale circles were righteously a-buzz over this one yesterday. One girl after another testifying that she, too, was constantly harassed by men. It is all about power, they agreed. I offered the consolatory reflection that none of them will have this problem any longer after just a couple of decades. But the girls did not particularly appreciate hearing that one.

It was not very long, however, before the thoroughly-conditioned youngsters, just like Hannah Rosin at Slate, identified a highly problematic subtext in the Hollaback! video: “the video also unintentionally makes another point, that harassers are mostly black and Latino, and hanging out on the streets in midday in clothes that suggest they are not on their lunch break. As Roxane Gay tweeted, ‘The racial politics of the video are f*cked up. Like, she didn’t walk through any white neighborhoods?’ ”

Today’s young people simply cannot tolerate viewing, hearing, or reading anything uncomplimentary to the groups they have been trained all their lives to regard as sacred. Their noses twitch, their hairs stand on end, their heads go up, and they reflexively cry: Racism!

Once the material is identified as racist, that is it. It is not only bad, it is ipso facto false, and must be dismissed out of hand. It doesn’t matter if the questionable content is perfectly true. It is still false because it is wrong, cosmically, absolutely, utterly WRONG. In the minds of today’s young, nothing is, nothing can possibly be so unutterably wrong as Racism. And Racism is not necessarily some kind of concrete theory of the characteristics and relative inherited inferiority of certain groups. Racism is merely saying anything whatsoever negative about certain groups.

————————————

The mandatory racial witch hunt having concluded, the Internet Community then turned its attention to poking fun at the Hollaback! Sexual Harassment video.

Funny or Die! gave us this (non-embeddable) 1:56 video of 10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Man.

————————————
And Tumblrland responded with this:

Walking-Girl

via Ratak Monodosico.

30 Oct 2014

Northern Pike is All in Favor of Catch and Release

, , ,

29 Oct 2014

“People May Not Always Understand Why, But an Armored Vehicle is Almost a Necessity Now”

, ,

ArmoredCar

The town of Stettin, Wisconsin sent 24 cops and an armored car to collect a civil judgement from a 75-year-old man. The sheriff captain explained that the old man was known to be “argumentative.”

Journal Sentinel story

Reason story

Hat tip to Glenn Reynolds.

29 Oct 2014

Shit Happens

,

ShitHappens

Hat tip to Fred Lapides.

29 Oct 2014

While You Were Sleeping

, ,

Hat tip to Kuriositas.

29 Oct 2014

Finnish Humor

,

WinterWar
The Winter War, Finland vs the Soviet Union, took place between 30 November 1939 and 13 March 1940, lasting 3 months, 1 week and 5 days. Finland suffered 70,000 total casualties. The Soviet Union suffered 323,000 total casualties.


A large group of Russian soldiers in the border area in 1939 are moving down a road when they hear a voice call from behind a small hill: “One Finnish soldier is better than ten Russian”.

The Russian commander quickly orders 10 of his best men over the hill where Upon a gun-battle breaks out and continues for a few minutes, then silence.

The voice once again calls out: “One Finn is better than one hundred Russian.”

Furious, the Russian commander sends his next best 100 troops over the hill and instantly a huge gun fight commences.

After 10 minutes of battle, again Silence.

The calm Finnish voice calls out again:

“One Finn is better than one thousand Russians”

The enraged Russian commander musters

1000 fighters and sends them to the other side

of the hill. Rifle fire, machine guns, grenades,

rockets and cannon fire ring out as a terrible

battle is fought…. Then Silence.

Eventually one badly wounded Russian fighter crawls back over the hill and with his dying words tells his commander, “Don’t send any more men……it’s a trap. There’s two of them.”

29 Oct 2014

Hillary Clinton: “Corporations Don’t Create Jobs.”

, , ,

ChelseaClinton1

“NBC created a job for Chelsea, so there’s at least one corporation that created a job.” Chuck Lane, Washington Post

28 Oct 2014

Maybe Corporations Really Do Create Jobs After All

, , ,

HillaryTakesItBack

Hillary Clinton’s remarkable denial that corporations create jobs in the course of a campaign speech for Martha Coackley in Massachusetts last Friday produced sufficient mockery and loud guffaws that Hillary was yesterday at pains to revise and extend her remarks.

Daily Mail:

Hillary Clinton tried her best on Monday to walk back her controversial economic body-slam from a speech on Friday, explaining away her claim that it’s not ‘corporations and businesses that create jobs.’

The talking point three days later: ‘So-called trickle-down economics has failed. I short-handed this point the other day, so let me be absolutely clear about what I’ve been saying for a couple of decades.”

“Our economy grows when businesses and entrepreneurs create good-paying jobs here in America and workers and families are empowered to build from the bottom up and the middle out – not when we hand out tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs or stash their profits overseas.’

But the damage has been done. Conservatives have a new rally cry – ‘Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s, you know, corporations and businesses that create jobs,’ she said – and campaign consultants will have a new advertisement drawn up if Clinton runs for president in 2016.

————————-

————————–

Alinsky-ite propagandists like Hillary decry the idea that limiting the percentage of a nation’s economic wealth confiscated and squandered by government leaves more capital available for investment and increases the likelihood that that nation’s economy will grow, and socialists smear the notion that a growing economy raises all boats by applying the derisive term “trickle-down economics.”

When people like Hillary sneer at the idea of capitalistic growth as “trickle-down economics,” they are, in fact, shamelessly denying the obvious history of their own country, the same history which Hillary herself lived through a significant piece of, right along with the rest of us.

Just compare the condition of a working-class family a hundred years ago with the condition of a similiarly-situated family today. In 1914, chances are that a working class family used an outhouse, lighted their home with a kerosene lamp, heated their home with the cookstove in the kitchen, owned no automobile, and (obviously) did not enjoy air-conditioning or computers. It’s actually pretty amazing all the stuff that has trickled down from the once-upon-a-time point when they either constituted fabulous luxuries available only to the rich, or were not yet even existing at all, to becoming routine features of the life of practically everyone.

It was remarked with a certain amount of bemusement, back in 1991, during the Los Angeles Rodney King riots, that, in America, when the poor riot, they leave air-conditioned homes, with computers and color televisions behind, and get in their cars to drive downtown in order to riot.

So-called “trickle-down economics” may not be as speedy in results as rubbing a magic lamp and making a wish, but that kind of economics really has, over just a few generations, made ordinary people richer in many ways than kings and emperors used to be.

The alternative to “trickle-down economics”, of course, is socialism. There are plenty of well-known examples as to just how effective in promoting general economic well-being all the best exemplars of Hillary Clinton’s preferred Robin Hood “Steal-from-the-rich-and-give-to-the-poor” economic philosophy have proven: Argentina, Cuba, North Korea, the late Soviet Union.

28 Oct 2014

Local News Highlights National Habit of Overreacting to Fears and Obsessions

, , , ,

SchoolLockdown
A school lockdown in Connecticut

Regular readers may possibly recall that I am currently blogging from our vacation place/300-acre farm in Central Pennsylvania.

Yesterday, the sounds of low-flying aircraft were heard from our cabin in the morning, and when Karen went into town, late in the afternoon, to get mail from the post office, the small town of Tyrone was buzzing with stories of a shooting in our own neighborhood.

The 10/27 Daily Herald (serving Tyrone, Bellwood, and Surrounding Areas since 1866, but not on-line) reported:

State Police at Hollidaysburg have confirmed a shooting at 260 Van Scoyoc Hollow Road in Snyder Township this morning.

Unconfirmed reports say that a 13-year-old female Tyrone student has been shot in the chest or shoulder at her bus stop near the Tyrone Sportsman’s Club. Reportedly the weapon was believed to be a shotgun.

The Tyrone Area School District went on full exterior lockdown as a precaution.

The school web-site said: “Based on conversation with the state police we have been informed that there is no threat to the school. We are merely taking precautionary measures by instituting the secure exterior lockdown

Due to shooting in the community, which is currently believed to be a hunting accident, the district is currently in a secure exterior lockdown.”

State Police were still investigating the area with metal detectors and ran infrared by helicopter looking for possible suspects around the Sportsman’s Club at 10:30 a.m. The bus stop and a wooded area across the road were heavily investigated.

The victim has reportedly been taken to UPMC Altoona and is in stable condition. State Police and the Game Commission were still on the scene, the shooter was not located and no further information was available at the time of press other that it is believed to have been a hunting accident.

So… What struck me about all this was the craziness of a school lockdown off in the borough of Tyrone, miles away from the scene of a shooting thought to be a hunting accident. This kind of response typifies a contemporary style of “cover your ass at any cost” bureaucratic formalism which characteristically reacts, not so much to threats, as to memes, with preposterous and pretentious brain-damaged forms of completely useless gestures.

I needed, of course, to investigate the facts, so I phoned up the State Police in Hollidaysburg this morning, explaining that I was inquiring about the Snyder Township shooting in my capacity as an Internet journalist.

I learned that what happened was: a 12-year-old girl accidentally dropped a .22 rifle while in the process of putting it away inside her house. The rifle went off, and the girl was struck by a bullet in the abdomen. The young lady is recovering from her unfortunate accident in hospital.

——————————-

Oddly enough, some news agency was actually reporting the story accurately this morning:

Police: Girl, 12, shot after mishandling rifle

TYRONE, Pa. (AP) – State police say a 12-year-old girl was accidentally shot in the abdomen after mishandling a .22-caliber rifle in her home.

Police aren’t releasing the name of the girl who authorities first believed had been shot outside her home Monday as she left for school about 7 a.m. That prompted the Pennsylvania Game Commission to investigate whether the girl might have been wounded by a hunter’s stray bullet.

But police now say the girl had grabbed the rifle and was returning it to a safe when it fell and discharged in her Snyder Township home.

The Tyrone Area School District was on an exterior lockdown after the shooting, meaning classes operated normally but no visitors were allowed on school property. The lockdown was lifted about 11 a.m. Monday.

Police were continuing to investigate Tuesday.

——————————-

All of which demonstrates the propensity of all forms and flavors of American officialdom these days to react Pavlovianly to popular cultural memes (e.g., “Child Shooting!” — “School Shooting!”) demonstrating a pathologically overly-enthusiastic eagerness to wield authority, deploy personnel and equipment, play with gadgets and weapons, and to act out fantasies in public.

Yesterday, we had two government agencies sending armed men scurrying about the landscape, helicopters searching the forest with infrared, and a school system, miles away, undergoing lockdown (“Sorry, Mr. Jones, you can’t deliver milk for the school lunch today. We’re on lockdown!”), along with a grand search for an imaginary hunter, all in response to a one-party accident that took place inside a private home.

Perhaps we all tend to idealize the past. I could be wrong but, when I think back to when I was young, decades ago, I have a lot of trouble picturing the American adults I grew up among getting into lathers of this kind and responding to emergencies with so much panic and excessive overreaction in defiance of all the facts.

I do think that if somebody came along and said to Sister Daniel, the principal of St. George School in Shenandoah back in 1960, “Hey! you better lockdown the school. There has been a hunting accident over in Brandonville.”, Sister Daniel would have said, “What are you, some kind of a nut?”

Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted for October 2014.















Feeds
Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark