For Your Consideration:
Sometimes you just need to watch chickens hatch.
We're gearing up for the 2013 Chickam hatch scheduled for April 20th, 2013! Sometimes the hatch is early though, so start checking here 2 days beforehand. We placed eggs in our incubator on March 30th and have 15 healthy embryos! We'll update…
For Your Consideration:
From The Washington Post:
Lawyer Robert Miller has visited five prisons and 17 jails in his lifetime, but he has reviewed only three of them on Yelp. One he found “average,” with inexperienced and power-hungry officers. Another he faulted for its “kind of very firmly rude staff.” His most recent review, a January critique of Theo Lacy jail in Orange County, Calif., lauds the cleanliness, urban setting and “very nice” deputies.
Miller gave it five out of five stars.
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From the Baltimore Sun
Surrounded by religious leaders, civil rights activists and others who have fought for years to stop executions in Maryland, Gov. Martin O'Malley signed legislation Thursday repealing the state's death penalty.
Unless the law is overturned in a referendum, Maryland will become the 18th state to end capital punishment, leaving life without parole as the maximum penalty for any crime.
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Perhaps it is endemic to those still growing into maturity, still learning about the nature of, and the limits to, relationships. I doubt it.
The astonishing thing about reports of the latest arrests is that the three, presented with sudden knowledge that a friend was a murderer and a terrorist, acted immediately to cover for him. They disposed of evidence, or so they thought, in the form of a knapsack with explosive materials. One of the three is charged with lying to police.
I was pretty dumb as a kid. And the time of childhood turning into adulthood, my late teens, was a long time ago. I struggle to recall being quite that dumb way back then.
This case has to involve more than a blindness toward consequence. It seems to have involved a moral obtuseness that values personal loyalty above all else.
We are told that young men reacted to very grown up crimes, life-and-death acts, as if they were helping out a mischievous prankster who had gone too far. No, sir, we have no idea who threw eggs at your house.
Word is that they are not yet being charged with aiding and abetting terrorists. But that window is far from closed: day ain't over yet.
There are holes in the information that the FBI has released. They are clearly deliberate holes. A computer belonging to the suspected (Suspected? hah!) bomber is not mentioned, but it was among the items missing from the initial inventory. Was it recovered? Had they produced it when asked? Was it in the miles and miles of trash in the landfill that lines of searchers had combed through?
Authorities are pointedly saying the three were not involved in the bombing murders and the subsequent killing of a police officer. Still, accessories after the fact are still accessories. Grownup actions have grownup consequences.
There is a relationship of sorts to another incident, this one in a Florida school.
A sixteen year old straight 'A' student got curious about chemical reactions. She filled a water bottle with toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil. There was a very loud pop. The cap blew off the bottle. There was some smoke.
No damage except to the bottle cap. No danger to the student or to anyone else.
The principal says it was an impromptu science experiment motivated by childlike intellectual curiosity. Presumably, intellectual curiosity is what schools say they want to promote in developing minds.
But the school has a no tolerance policy. The straight 'A' student with scientific curiosity has been expelled. She will complete her high school education in a special program for expelled students. She is now considered a juvenile delinquent.
Here is the connection between the high school student who damaged a water bottle in Florida and the three slackers who thought it would be cool to help out a buddy in Massachusetts who had just killed three people and maimed or otherwise injured over 170:
She, and they, have all been arrested by law enforcement authorities and are being charged with felonies.
The Florida school says in an official statement that they are sending a message that there are consequences to actions.
Anytime a student makes a bad choice it is disappointing to us. Unfortunately, the incident that occurred at Bartow High School yesterday was a serious breach of conduct. In order to maintain a safe and orderly learning environment, we simply must uphold our code of conduct rules. We urge our parents to join us in conveying the message that there are consequences to actions. We will not compromise the safety and security of our students and staff.
You can see their point. As the twig grows, so grows the tree. Catch bad behavior before it becomes something worse later in life.
Students have to be taught "there are consequences to actions." Otherwise they won't learn to exercise judgment. Such children, without that sort of severity at the right time, can grow up with no moral sensibility at all.
Without any sense of moral judgment, some children could even grow to become school administrators, unable to discover a distinction between a lethal bomb in the hands of a murdering terrorist and a water bottle in the hands of a curious science student.
The cliche that has some correlation to truth is that folks with severe asthma, those who can afford it, move to Arizona.
Anyone know what state in the US has the highest percentage of asthma related deaths?
Okay, let's not always see the same hands.
The economic policy of austerity, cut social spending, cut entitlements, cut services, cut even infrastructure where necessary, anything to reduce government debt, has been the byword of conservatives around the world.
Most economists, those belonging to schools of economics that became mainstream eighty years ago, have warned that austerity will hurt pretty much any economy in a recession. Deficit spending, on the other hand, helps economies in recession.
There have been some historical exceptions. Price manipulation of energy in the 1970s was one example. Sudden product surpluses at the end of armed conflicts are another. A recession came after World War I when military surplus items glutted the marketplace.
But, by-and-large, most economists say that large deficits are a good, very good, thing during recessions. Austerity is bad, very bad, during those same hard times.
The time for reducing deficits, paying back on debt, is during strong economic times.
The main arguments against austerity are economic. The main arguments for austerity are political.
Austerity makes conservative intuitive sense. It's easy to sell to an audience composed of non-economists. After all, how many of us who are ordinary mortals even know what a liquidity trap is? Our families meet a budget, cutting back in hard times. Why doesn't government?
Austerity makes conservative ideological sense. Fiscal conservatives have a sort of built in hostility toward poor people. Sometimes it is denied, but public comments about the laziness of unemployed and those in bad economic conditions tell a more accurate story.
Austerity makes conservative political sense. Social conservatives, paleos of the Pat Buchanan strain, have an overt hostility toward people of darker color. There is a sense that government spending may let some of ... you know ... those people put one over on the rest of us.
Austerity makes conservative class sense. Those in upper income brackets, specifically those who live next door to lawmakers, who associate with them, who travel in the same circles, who belong to the same clubs, whose children attend the same schools and participate in the same activities, have done very well during a limp recovery. Almost all of the benefit of the current recovery has gone to the upper 14 percent.
And those we associate with, meet with, know personally, tend to be those we think of as ordinary everyday folk. Those ordinary, everyday folk who rub elbows with legislators are fairly happy with their economic condition and unhappy with anything that may threaten a privileged life. These folks, the normal folks, are more concerned with deficits than employment of the hoard living outside the gates.
So the conflict has been between those somewhat well versed in economics, the eggheads, and those well versed in politics, the normal folks.
That is until two very highly regarded economists joined the politicos.
Those in politics can buy economists who will tell them what they want to hear. But this was different. Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff were among the elite of the elite of economists. They didn't issue an opinion. They issued a research volume.
Their survey of economics of 20 countries revealed a pattern. When national debt reached 90 percent, growth dropped to the vanishing point.
The technical name for that pattern was Yikes.
The United States was already at 70 percent and rising. And we weren't alone.
Europe acted. They put in a program of, as Mitt Romney might describe it, severe conservatism. Economic officials forced through an austerity program like nobody's business. And nobody's business benefited. A recession has become a near depression.
Paul Ryan and others cited the Reinhart-Rogoff study right up to a couple of weeks ago.
That's when the study exploded. An excel error .. an excel error? ... and excel produced wrong results. Somebody didn't hit a recalculate button, or added an incomplete column or something.
That isn't all that was wrong with the figures. Turns out a lot of figures were left out. When countries had a lot of debt plus very good growth, those figures were omitted. So were years when countries reduced debt and had horrible years.
That's kind of like recent reviews of the George W. Bush administration from 2002 to 2007, reviews in which such events as Katrina and anthrax terrorist attacks were forgotten. Almost anything or anyone can look pretty good if you leave out all the bad stuff and only count good stuff.
But there was something else as well. It's what anyone linking one thing to another calls causality.
Those countries and years that made it into the study did show a correlation between debt levels and economic growth. Mainstream economists questioned the nature of the connection. Oh the connection did seem to be there. The question was which was cause and which was effect. When times were hard, governments were resorting to deficit spending to recover, pretty much the action 80 years of economic data told them they should do. This added to spending that very naturally goes up during hard times, unemployment benefits, food programs, school lunches, and the like: the safety net.
Deficits did not cause hard times. Hard times caused deficits.
Which caused which? How can you tell?
One way to separate valid theory from bad theory is to check theory against intuition. Austerity passed that test. Mainstream economics did not. Unfortunately, intuition includes a lot of prejudice, class interest, and ideology.
Another way to figure out which theory is solid as a rock, and which is substantial as gossamer, is prediction. Most theories can be twisted to fit data. It's hard to twist a theory to fit a future that is unknown at the time.
For example, those wanting austerity insisted that interest rates were about to go up. This would be fueled by investor unwillingness to purchase government bonds except at very high interest return. Mainstream economists consulted their formulas and predicted that interest rates would drop past the vanishing point. Policy makers laughed. You can't go below zero.
Right now, interest rates on bonds, the rate government has to pay in order to borrow from investors, is lower than most of us can imagine. It is below zero. Government is making a profit by borrowing money.
Mainstream economics turned out to be pretty good at predicting.
And complete data turned out to be on the side of mainstream and against austerity.
And excel spreadsheets.
Think reality will have any effect on policy?
When politics is on the other side?
I wouldn't bet my shoes.
Oh. By the way: Did anyone guess where death rates from asthma is highest in the United States?
Actually, it's not Arizona. Lots of folks with Asthma, those who can afford it, do move to Arizona. And lots do die there.
Arizona actually comes in at number 7.
Vermont is first. Go figure.
Perhaps there are asthma sufferers in Vermont who lack either the ability or the inclination to move south.
At least we haven't faked data to make a point.
Occasionally, some tangential object provides testimony of a larger tragedy. A child's shoe found near an automobile accident, the wedding ring that had belonged to a beloved spouse.
I remember the grief of an acquaintance as she showed me a small pocket calendar, two small pages devoted to each month. In each little square, seven across, four to five down, on every date in every month, were the handwritten words "I love you." It has been so many decades, I'm pretty sure the tearful woman could sit next to me next Sunday at worship without any recognition from either of us. But that little calendar book is implanted firmly in my memory.
What stays with me from news reports about Milly Dowler is her cell phone. It is the center of prolonged trauma and torture of her family. In March of 2002, the 13 year old began walking home from school in southeast England, never arriving at her house.
Police were called in.
Family members began calling the cell phone that had been carried by the missing girl. They called until the voice mail quota of messages had maxed out. Then they kept calling.
A body was found, a crushing emotional blow. But it turned out not to be that of the little girl. Still, hope had to have been hard to maintain. Police pretty much gave up after the first few days. They began devoting resources to finding the presumed killer, rather than locating a lost child.
Then something extraordinary began to happen. The message queue on little Milly's cell phone was no longer filled. Frantic, emotional, heartfelt pleas were being heard and deleted. She was alive. The family redoubled their efforts. More messages were left. Police diverted resources from their search for a killer back to a search for a missing girl.
This went on for days, then weeks and months. It went on right up until Milly's little body was found in a wooded area by a group looking for mushrooms.
Police once more shifted their efforts to finding a killer. A cold case often does not result in a lack of leads. It is the ability to prioritize that fades. Important leads fade into a background buzz of false pathways. DNA found on an item of clothing in Milly's bedroom was ruled out. A tenuous connection to a nearby robbery turned out to be nothing. A letter sent from prison by a man convicted of child assault was found to be a false confession.
Eventually, police were able to find and arrest a serial killer in 2008. He had killed four times, perhaps more, between 2002 and 2008. He was apprehended after attempting yet another abduction of a young girl. Milly had only been the first.
The six year delay in catching him could arguably be raced back to that cell phone. How had those messages been deleted?
That is where the Rupert Murdoch empire, owners of Fox News, owners of the New York Post, owners of the Wall Street Journal, come under a cloud.
It was not until 2011 that the public was told enough about that cell phone to cause an uproar. It turned out that a Murdoch owned London tabloid, News of the World, NOTW, was behind it. Reporters had somehow hacked into Milly's cell phone records and found a way to listen to her messages. Those messages were the source of several scoops, as frantic family members left tearful pleas that included confidential information police had shared with them.
When the message capability of the cell phone had filled completely, the reporters began deleting them to make room for more. Their deception was rewarded as the family took false hope and began leaving more messages.
NOTW executives insisted this was an isolated case, that they had no knowledge of it, that it was a matter of rogue reporters going off on their own. When it turned out that the phone hacking had been a widespread practice, that celebrities and members of the Royal family had been targets, the claims of executive innocence rang hollow.
Then it was discovered that victims of terrorist bombings and military families of soldiers killed in combat were also targeted for secret phone hacking. This was no isolated incident.
Reporters and investigators went to jail. Executives were grilled by official committees, then came under suspicion, then a few were arrested.
News of the World was closed down. Murdoch and company insisted it was because they were as indignant as anyone else. Those outside the media empire hoped it was not an excuse to destroy organizational records that could expose even more widespread abuse.
Even so, the scandal rolled on. Among the victims of phone hacking was the assistant Commissioner of the London Police force.
The Assistant Commissioner of the Police? Wow.
It turns out, if they wanted unreleased information from ongoing police investigations, they needn't have bothered with phone hacking. The entire sad affair expanded to police officials who were accused of accepting bribes. Others were said to have ignored such practices. The Director of Public Affairs for the Metropolitan Police resigned. The Commissioner of the police force resigned.
And last week, an official commission released its report. The Murdoch tentacles had reached into other police departments as well. The Independent Police Complaints Commission report says the Surrey police, whose detectives were stymied during the search for Milly Dowler and the on-and-off search for her killer, also included officers and high officials who later discovered the phone hacking and did nothing about it.
We will never know what would have happened had Surrey police carried out an investigation into the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone in 2002.
Phone hacking was a crime and this should have been acted upon, if not in 2002, then later, once the News of the World's widespread use of phone hacking became a matter of public knowledge and concern.
The local police coverup does tend to reinforce the judgment of a special committee of the British Parliament published last year.
On the basis of the facts and evidence before the Committee, we conclude that, if at all relevant times Rupert Murdoch did not take steps to become fully informed about phone-hacking, he turned a blind eye and exhibited wilful blindness to what was going on in his companies and publications. This culture, we consider, permeated from the top throughout the organisation and speaks volumes about the lack of effective corporate governance at News Corporation and News International. We conclude, therefore, that Rupert Murdoch is not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company.
- House of Commons Report, May 1, 2012
Not a fit person to exercise the stewardship of a major international company is a harsh judgment to apply against the king of a media empire. Hard to argue with the widespread abuses or the additional children murdered after Molly Dowler's killer escaped.
The officially unfit Mr. Murdoch still instructs conservatives in the United States through Fox News.
Listen As You Go -
Why Do Some Conservatives Hate Obama So Personally? - Click for Podcast
One problem with comparative analysis about Presidents is that administrations deal with so many policies aimed in so many directions, you face a rhetorical Hobson's choice. Do you go with broad generalities or do you get so involved in granular details that you and anyone attempting to follow your reasoning will get lost in the tall, tall grass? There are other analytical traps, of course, and it is easy for a partisan to fall in.
So we have to smile indulgently when someone goes a bit overboard. And the opening of the George W. Bush Library offers plenty of temptation to go more than a bit overboard. Some folks, in a fit of nostalgic enthusiasm leap recklessly into the abyss.
Sometimes events are so horrific or welcomed, they overcome Hobson. The Civil War, the burning down of of the White House, resignation after a scandal involving politically motivated thuggery, the Great Depression, all taint or brightly color the tenures of Lincoln, Madison, Nixon, Hoover, and Roosevelt.
What do we think about when we regard the Presidency of George W. Bush? Do we remember the most significant act of terrorism ever on American soil? Does the financial disaster of 2008 come to mind? Katrina? War?
Jennifer Rubin, resident conservative at the Washington Post, does her best with the Bush years. Jonathan Chait, in New York Magazine, is wonderfully accurate in slapping her review into a shapeless pulp. Both are worth reading, if only for the Battle of the Titans aspect. Both are very good.
Rubin does strain more than a little in at least two respects.
"Unlike Obama’s tenure, there was no successful attack on the homeland after 9/11..." which tends to ignore the multiple warnings the Bush administration laughed off in their first year. The famous intelligence briefing is commonly cited. Less well known are the frantic pleas on international terrorism from the outgoing Clinton administration during briefings of incoming Bush officials. Those pleas provoked Republican giggles at the time. Or the fact that, by 9/11, the Bush Justice Department had already prepared a budget that slashed anti-terrorism efforts within the FBI to the vanishing point.
"7 1/2 years of job growth and prosperity" merits some attention as well. The financial crisis that came very close to the ragged edge of a repeat of Hoover's Great Depression can be traced to policies put into place during those 7½ years.
As for Rubin's anti-Obama snark: can we go, at some other time, into a discussion of the Biden formulation that bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive?
Okay, back on track.
So, as long as we exclude little things like New Orleans and Iraq, President Bush had an okay 6, that would be six, years. As long as we ignore the first year. And last year. And if only I had some ham, I could have a ham sandwich, if only I had some bread.
My history may be a little vague but, by my calculation, President Bush served (let's see, carry the one, subtract, uh) eight years, didn't he?
I look forward to a defense of policies and actions that revolve around those missing two years. We can argue about what could or could not be reasonably anticipated, or what policies would have been reasonable, or what was inherited, and so on. But to simply exclude 2001 and 2008 from our vision? As if they never happened? Like they shouldn't count? At all?
I had a wonderful day beginning with my quick release from the emergency room after being poisoned at breakfast. Before I went into a coma following that unfortunate shellfish incident at dinner, things really looked up.
It was a great lunch. Please pass the salt. And the anthrax.
In response to T. Paine's
Watching Barack - More Fondly Remembering George W
Which makes me cranky because as far as I can see, he was always more interested in golf, baseball, and pretty much everything except the world of public affairs.
- Jonathan Bernstein, April 23, 2012
If you were to substitute basketball for baseball, that would very aptly describe our current president.
- T. Paine, April 24, 2012
I recently watched the remake of Pelham One Two Three. Again.
I liked the original a lot. Walter Matthau's Walter Garber captured some of what was then how I saw the quintessential New Yorker. He turns to someone he finds momentarily annoying and shouts "Hey, Willya?" His brief awkwardness with the still developing politically correct attitude toward racial tensions was one of several humanizing moments. He communicates repeatedly with a police inspector by radio. He finally meets Julius Harris in person and, discovering that he is black, can't hide his surprise. He says something like. "I didn't know you were ... so tall."
Garber as played by Denzel Washington is more vulnerable, I think. That makes him interesting. That also makes the Travolta character more menacing. His casual exploitation of Washington's impending corruption investigation added to his character. He was not only life-threatening, he was rude.
The final heartfelt thank you by the Mayor, James Gandolfini, toward the end was also a break from the cynicism the character carried in both versions. Both react to pressure. But Gandolfini's Mayor stumbles past the pro forma sort of thanks to something more human. We both know this is phony, he seems to communicate, so now let me tell you something from the heart. Making a politician human and likeable in a supporting role isn't that common, I think.
It's the human side of George Bush that I think Political Science professor and writer Jonathan Bernstein was reacting to, as was I. The prevailing image of George Bush is that of a personally incurious individual, incapable of introspection, not someone with much self-awareness. The lack of engagement is commonly ascribed to a lack of intelligence. Bernstein disagrees, and I find myself joining him.
This is not, I think, about public policy itself. It is about personal characteristics that go into Presidential performance.
Bernstein acknowledges that future historical research may disprove his central thesis, which he believes is based on little evidence. Bernstein suggests President Bush was uninterested in policy. He was engaged when it came to politics itself because it was kind of fun, but policy bored him. President Bush was intelligent and interested and engaged when it came to sports. He had memorized baseball scores going back to the 1950s. That was his passion. He was an expert. Not so much with governing.
I offered an anecdote to support him. In 2006, the decision to exclude baseball from Olympic sports prompted efforts to establish an alternative, to be called the World Baseball Classic. There were enormous difficulties, including very hard international foreign policy hurdles. The obstacles were so daunting, most folks gave up on the idea. President Bush took an interest and ended up taking over diplomatic negotiations. He got very creative about it and skillfully guided the effort through a complex maze.
George W. Bush could have been an effectively responsible President if he had taken the same interest in all areas.
Jonathan Bernstein is modest, I think, in imagining a lack of evidence to support his notion that President Bush put policy entirely into the hands of subordinates. Every President does that to some extent. But there is fairly solid evidence that George W. Bush went well past delegation to abdication of responsibility.
Three more anecdotal points come to mind that go beyond his loopy sort of public persona.
- On the cusp of invading Iraq, President Bush hosted a delegation of pro-invasion Iraqi exiles. One later offered a shocked report that President Bush lacked even the most rudimentary knowledge of the region, the policy, or religious differences involved.
al Qaeda was a Sunni group that had targeted and killed thousands of US civilians. They had also killed many more thousands of Shi'ite Muslims for worshiping in the wrong way. bin Laden hated Shi'ites. The divisions between Sunni and Shia parallel that of Protestants and Catholics for generations in Northern Ireland. It has often been bloody beyond easy comprehension.
al Qaeda also targeted many thousands of fellow Sunni Muslims for their insufficient hatred of Shi'ites. Lack of adequate militaristic commitment to the fight against apostates made for more apostates, and more targets.
President Bush, in his friendly meeting with that group of Iraqi supporters of invasion, was unaware even that there was more than one sect with the world community of Muslims. It was breathtaking ignorance.
- President Bush had no idea his administration was acting on voting rights.
A recent set of Supreme Court hearings has put into jeopardy a major voting rights law Congress renewed in 2006. Justice Antonin Scalia believes voting rights to be a form of racial preference, an odd view to those of us who think it is a basic right in a democracy.
In 2006, the Bush administration hesitated in supporting renewal of voting rights. It was a huge controversy. A very public debate was on.
Was it not unfair, conservatives asked, to assume that routine changes in voting regulations were suspect? America had moved beyond lynching, bombing, and assassination. Weren't the days of necessary voting rights enforcement also gone forever?
Liberals pointed to fledgeling efforts to restrict voting rights by imposing new identification requirements on top of old ones, disproportionately affecting non-drivers more of whom were minorities. Those voter suppression efforts have expanded in more recent times.
The controversy at the time roiled through public discourse. Everyone, it seemed, had an opinion. And civil rights leaders were angry that the Bush administration contemplated opposing renewal of voting rights.
President Bush greeted a delegation of Civil Rights advocates. They were surprised at his views. He didn't have any. He was completely unaware that there was any controversy. He didn't know his administration was considering a position on voting rights. He was only dimly aware that any renewal was to be voted on.
Voting Rights Act? What Voting Rights Act?
- In 2008, President Bush toured the country to drum up support for a proposal to privatize Social Security. His dim understanding of his own program became the topic of comedians.
It is possible that this all represented a sort of public awkwardness that did not match up with behind-the-scenes performance. I have made the case that this is true of Dan Quayle. There is little evidence of that at the moment in the case of President Bush.
I often confess an additional bias about President Bush that goes beyond public policy and personal performance. The chest thrust, the strut, the noble scanning into the distance as others spoke, and, of course, the smirk. That reaction on my part is irrational, but those things contribute to a discernible irritation.
It's not fair. I have tried to compensate for that.
We're not talking policy here. Katrina, the financial mess, war, war, war against the wrong people, hostility toward civil rights, and on and on. That is for another time.
We're talking about personal characteristics that contribute to, that are behind, competent performance.
I'm not seeing what contributes to a similar conservative bias about President Obama beyond policy itself. Policy disagreement can provoke anger, and does. But I can only guess what prompts the personal, primal, atavistic reaction: "aloof, corrupt, and opaque," "Let them eat cake," "arrogant and narcissistic," "fool." Even "divided the nation" seems weird. Conservatives are angry because conservatives are angry?
In 2009, Republicans invited President Obama to Maryland. The thought, reported off the record, was that he would be unprepared for a one-on-many discussion of policy. When Presidential aides asked if television cameras might be allowed, Republicans glommed onto it like piranhas. This would be fun.
Later, some Republicans complained that they had been ambushed. He took antagonistic questions, explained the questions, answered the questions, then explained how the answers disproved the antagonism. He made Republicans look kind of silly. His command of even remote policy analysis went way beyond that of his debaters. He was friendly and at ease, gently turning Republican bluster back on itself.
I struggle to see what personal mannerisms might parallel those of President Bush, provoking some irrational reaction that might match my own unfair reaction to that of President Bush. Is it the way Barack Obama walks? Does his posture suggest something juvenile? Does he gaze out nobly, scanning a distant horizon while some guest is talking at the podium? Does he scrunch up his face in mock sincerity? Does he slow way down to accentuate simple words as if his audience might need time to understand? Is there any Bushism in him at all?
What, then? Is it something else?
Well. I do think back to Walter Matthau, and his wonderful portrayal of Walter Garber.
I hate to say it. I even hate to think it. But there it is.
President Obama is, you know ... tall.
From Kyle Hill of Scientific American:
I hope that the father of the “modern Stone Age family” has thick skin, or else he is going to lose his legs.
Let’s put aside the fact that Fred Flintstone basically runs to work and therefore doesn’t really need his wheels (or that he would need the quads of a god to get them moving). What is much more interesting is the way he stops his caveman car.
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In response to Burr Deming's
Bush Years - the Baseball Presidency
Which makes me cranky because as far as I can see, he was always more interested in golf, baseball, and pretty much everything except the world of public affairs.
- Jonathan Bernstein, April 23, 2012
as quoted by FairAndUnbalanced.com
If you were to substitute basketball for baseball, that would very aptly describe our current president. Oh, and I would also add domestic affairs and foreign policy to the end of that sentence.
The world is crumbling around us and our aloof, corrupt, and opaque president has basically said to the American people, “Let them eat cake”. Bush had some serious flaws, but in the contest of who is the worst president we have ever had, Obama has raced to the very bottom. Carter must be relieved that he no longer holds that honor.
The fact that this arrogant and narcissistic fool has seemingly intentionally further divided the nation, ignored and indeed buried terrorist acts of war such as Benghazi, while calling the Fort Hood terrorist a case of “work place violence”, and intentionally curbed and infringed on numerous constitutional rights for us should have been enough to have an overwhelming call for his impeachment. Of course the progressive ideologues will continue with their unabated agenda, while the low information voters remain ignorant to the liberties they are losing.
It is truly sad when as poor of a president as Bush was, Obama still makes me long for those days of George W.’s administration regardless.
T. Paine, a frequent and generous contributor, also writes for his own conservative site, where the occasional arrogant and narcissistic liberal fool is suffered with unfailing good cheer.
Please visit Saving Common Sense.
The opening of the Presidential Library of George W. Bush draws commentary from Bloomberg's Daniel Drezner. Drezner has always held President Bush in what the late Everett Dirksen, in other contexts, called "minimal high regard." And there is mixed reaction to his mixed review.
Andrew Sullivan pulls, without comment, the concluding sentence:
At best, George W. Bush was a well-meaning man who gave the occasional nice speech and was thoroughly overmatched by events. At worst, he was the most disastrous foreign policy president of the post-1945 era. Am I missing anything?
Kevin Drum of Mother Jones Magazine objects, in a sort of backhanded way through agreement, to Drezner's faint praise.
First, he's been a great ex-president. For such a polarizing political figure, it's remarkable how successfully Bush has receded into private life.
Drum's reaction: "There's not much question that doing nothing puts Bush in his best light."
From George W. Bush, comes this comment about critics in general.
There's no need to defend myself.
Lot's of room for snide agreement there.
Jonathan Bernstein takes issue with the idea, presented by Drezner as a sort of aside, that the image of Bush may improve with time. Bernstein is irritated by the very idea of the Bush presidency itself. He thinks it was irresponsible of Republican officials to shepherd him through to the nomination:
Which makes me cranky because as far as I can see, he was always more interested in golf, baseball, and pretty much everything except the world of public affairs.
My own thought, sent on to Bernstein,is that President Bush could have been a very capable President. It was not a lack of intelligence, or some sort of negative savant incapability. I presented the best case I could just before his Presidency ended in the form of a post from years ago. It focused on one incident involving a connection between foreign policy, which seemed to bore our then President, and baseball, which was his passion.
Jonathan Bernstein responds with an endorsement:
That is a terrific post.
I'm sure I've said this here at some point, but Bush isn't just memorizing batting averages. I've heard him talk about baseball, and he sounds genuinely intelligent -- and I have a pretty high standard when it comes to sounding intelligent about baseball.
It is a generous reaction that has the virtue of being true.
The link will lead to the entire post. This was my original case, presented in May, 2008:
About 2½ years ago, baseball enthusiasts everywhere finally had their triumph. 16 teams from around the world would participate in an international playoff hosted by the United States. It would be a true World Series.
But there was one last major snag. Cuba had some of the best players in the universe, so they pretty much had to be included for the tourney to have any credibility. But our national law made it illegal for any event that would put US currency in the hands of Cuba. The International Baseball Federation said they would cancel the event if Cuba was kept out.
President George W. Bush is a great fan of Baseball. His mind is not attuned, shall we say, to public policy, but he has memorized batting averages back to the 1950s.
So our President intervened. He personally hammered out a solution with the State Department, the Justice Department, the US Treasury, the Cuban government, and organization officials. It got complicated, but President Bush kept negotiations going, and got it all settled. Cuba would play, and would agree in writing to donate all financial proceeds to Katrina victims. The event was a success and Japan came in first. A good time was had by all.
You ready for the point? President Bush proved he could be an effective President. He was not only NOT inept, he was positively … I dunno … ept? He just had to be mentally engaged.
- May 10, 2008
The country would have been better served had every policy been seen through the prism of some sort of baseball analogy. But you can't have everything. We have to be grateful for the blessings we did have.
After all, we survived.
The Second Amendment solution has made its way back into Republican rhetoric.
To be fair, the April newsletter of the Benton County Republican Party in Arkansas mostly talked about throwing out of office anyone who voted the wrong way, which is to say the conservative way, on Obamacare. It began with the busy session of the Arkansas legislature and how hard those representatives were working. But Obamacare had risen up.
The legislature approved the “private option” health plan with 75 percent majorities in both the Senate and House. It’s called the “private option” because it takes Medicaid dollars and uses them to purchase private health insurance for people whose yearly income is less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
This raised concerns:
I have deep seated concerns about this huge expansion of government and the differences of projections of costs to Arkansans with no assurance of better access nor improvement of health care.
From there, the emotional tone became more heated but, for the most part, went into political threats. That is democracy in action, no matter whether the temperature goes beyond what most activists might find comfortable. Threatening election prospects of politicians is what citizens are supposed to do.
There was one disturbing sentence. "I don’t feel the same way about the Democrats as bullet backstops as I do about the Republicans who joined them."
That was a little intemperate. In these days of casual killings of Colorado, Texas, and Virginia officials, as well as a classroom of little kids, an implication like that ought not to go unchecked. Still, the context was one of emotion. As in "I feel so angry I could just..." spit would have been better I suppose. Anything but language that could be taken as a threat.
Chris Nagy is not a Republican official. He is not elected to any GOP position. He is the husband of the county Republican Party secretary.
But his self described "scathing letter" was in the official newsletter of the county Republican Party. Hard to get around that.
The problem with rhetoric by a highly motivated political activist is the temptation toward extreme heat rather than light. Nagy was headed for danger with this. "Part of me feels that this betrayal deserves a quick implementation of my 2nd amendment rights to remove a threat domestic."
Then he dove right on in.
The 2nd amendment means nothing unless those in power believe you would have no problem simply walking up and shooting them if they got too far out of line and stopped responding as representatives. It seems that we are unable to muster that belief in any of our representatives on a state or federal level, but we have to have something, something costly, something that they will fear that we will use if they step out of line.
This was in the official newsletter of the Arkansas Benton County Republican Party.
Some bit of wisdom must have spoken softly inside Mr. Nagy's fevered brain. He acknowledged, with regret, that shooting RINOs, Republicans who had betrayed conservatism by voting to accept federal funds, is not a solution that is in reach. "Personally, I think a gun is quicker and more merciful, but hey, we can’t."
Well, at least we have that.
You can't make too much out of stray comments by some overwrought minor official. And it appears that the author does not have even that status. You have to take a breath when it appears in a publication issued by a political party. But there are a lot of counties out there, and you have to figure someone, somewhere, will put material out that will cross many lines.
As long as Republicans disown those sorts of comments, we might best let it go.
So what are the odds of a conservative uproar along the lines we would have seen a decade ago, when Republicans were far less extreme? What are the chances any national Republican will regard such official rhetoric to be exceptional enough to merit any comment at all?
Oh! There was a more positive note:
The newsletter also proudly announced that "Governor Nikki R. Haley from South Carolina will be our guest speaker at our Lincoln Day Dinner Event"
How generous of the governor to lend her support to such a organization.
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