Thursday, December 1, 2011

Alternate Joke of the Week

Herman Cain characterized the accusations of sexual harassment by three women, as well as a 13 year affair by another woman, as “a direct character assassination, pure and simple.”

Asked by the Fox News interviewer who he thought was behind this "character assassination," he replied that it must be the Democrats.
“I can only conjecture that maybe I'm the democrats worst nightmare.”
News flash to Mr. Cain: Get real, man. It's a toss-up whether you or Michele Bachmann would be the easiest opponent to guarantee the Democrats a landslide victory.


Joke of the week

Michele Bachmann:
"I'm happy to say I don't think that I've said anything inaccurate in any of the debates. . . . It's a high-profile stage and so I'm grateful that I don't think I've made a blunder."
When you stop laughing, consider this for Joke of the Year: Michele Bachmann ever being taken seriously as a presidential candidate.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Newt: candor or calculation?

I never trust anything that comes out of Newt's mouth.

However, he said something yesterday in South Carolina that made me wonder: are we seeing a new candor emerging, or is this just another phase of calculating what will impress voters?

I can see the wheels in that over-sized head turning: what people liked in Herman Cain was his seeming honesty and candor.

So now Newt will be honest and candid.

Here's what I'm referring to: He was asked to comment on some complex aspect of Obama's AIDS policy. Newt said that this was new to him and he didn't have enough information to answer her question.
"One of the real changes that comes when you start running for President -- as opposed to being an analyst on Fox -- is I have to actually know what I'm talking about."
People laughed, and he then added: "It's a severe limitation."

Woah, here, now. People speak truth in unguarded moments, especially to get a laugh. This may be one of those moments. That's a damning indictment not only of Fox but of his own role as a political talking head.

He's confessing to just making stuff up? -- as I have been saying for some time. It adds credence to the recent poll that showed people who watch Fox News are less well informed than those who don't watch any news at all.

But, you see, the thing about Newt is this: He wants you to accept him as he presents himself today, here and now, and to ignore what he may have been or said in the past. Forget his philandering and his divorces; he has confessed and received forgiveness from God. Who are we to judge? Past support for health care mandates? For bombing Libya? For a zillion other things that he now has a different take on?

Don't be petty. Accept the Newt in front of you now. That brilliant mind is way too busy to keep track of what he said in the past. He didn't really believe it then, so why should he remember it? And now? We're to believe him now -- just because it is now?

What a strange unhistorical position for a professional historian to take.

But it makes a sort of pathological sense when you realize that consistency and continuity require a cohesive self and some integrity. Newt has none.

As George Will would say: "Well, now . . . "


The roller-coaster ride ain't over yet

Consider this scenario over the next few months:

1. The cumulative weight of accusations by women proves too much for Cain's supporters, and they desert him. He drops out of the race, ostensibly to protect his family from further distress from all the publicity, which or course has no basis in fact, he says. Translated: his wife says "no way, you philandering SOB."

2. A majority of Cain's supporters go over to Gingrich, who is already leading by a big margin in Iowa in the latest poll. He swamps Romney, who comes in third behind Gingrich and Paul. Perry, Bachmann and Santorum come in at #4, 5, and 6. Bachmann and Santorum drop out. Perry has the money to continue, but everyone knows eventually his support will go to Gingrich too.

3. Romney and Gingrich duke it out in New Hampshire, with Romney winning by a slight edge, much less than he should have, so it's a defeat on expectations.

4. Gingrich beats Romney in South Carolina.

5. If Gingrich can survive the renewed scrutiny of his past, then he's on track for the nomination. There is growing reason to think he can survive it. Evangelicals like a bad boy who has repented and found religion. Confession and forgiveness -- as opposed to Cain's stout denials. They also give him a pass on the hypocrisy of impeaching Clinton -- because Clinton lied. But Gingrich confessed (years later, to be sure).

4. The anti-Romney crowd is desperate. The brainey Gingrich has captured the populist vote, but the insiders don't trust him and don't like him. They persuade Sarah Palin to jump in and try to capture the crown from Gingrich and defeat Romney.

What then? It could happen.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart had a good line, referring to the increasing use of pepper spray on crowds -- not only the police against the Occupy protesters but now California and North Carolina shoppers using it against fellow shoppers on Black Friday. Stewart's quip:

“We’ve suddenly become a people who use pepper spray to alleviate minor inconveniences.
"Pepper spray has become America’s new car horn.”
Clever. Says a lot with a few words.


It's going to be a very rough campaign

Here we are, still 11 months from Election 2012, and already the Republicans have sunk pretty low in their TV ads.

Mitt Romney's first tv ad in New Hampshire has a video clip of Obama saying: "If we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose."

The whole context of the ad is blaming Obama for the bad economy and for trying to avoid discussing it or fixing it. Now, we all know and have come to accept that it's going to be rough. I wouldn't be surprised if this had come from Bachmann or Perry. But Romney -- just out and out falsifying a direct quote? Where is his Morman morality?

Here's the full quotation from the 2008 campaign that they edited to reverse the meaning. Obama is quoting an aide to his opponent John McCain, and here's what he actually said:

"Senator McCain's campaign actually said, and I quote, 'if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose.'"

The ad attributes the statement to Obama -- and he is actually saying it -- but he is quoting his opponent's campaign in order to denounce it. With these same tactics and some diligent searching and splicing, you could probably create a clip of Obama saying: "Hitler is my hero."

The liberal media are exposing this -- but even the conservatives ought to be denouncing this kind of tactic. Distortions, hyperbole, ridicule -- of course. But intentional falsification? That is beneath contempt.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

New Hampshire primary

It's been practically a foregone conclusion that Mitt Romney will win the New Hampshire Republican primary on January 10th. Second only to the Iowa caucuses on January 3rd, N.H.'s "first primary" state is always closely watched.

With Romney having been governor of next door Massachusetts, his presence is long-standing; and he is leading in polls 42% to 15% for Gingrich.

Nevertheless, today the Union Leader, N.H.'s leading newspaper, which always plays a big role in politics, has announced its endorsement of Newt Gingrich.
"We are in critical need of the innovative, forward-looking strategy and positive leadership that Gingrich has shown he is capable of providing. . . . We look for conservatives of courage and conviction who are independent-minded, grounded in their core beliefs about this nation and its people, and best equipped for the job. . .

"We don't have to agree with them on every issue. We would rather back someone with whom we may sometimes disagree than one who tells us what he thinks we want to hear."
But don't they know that Newt is just as big a pandering flip-flopper as Mitt? That everything Newt does is calculated? It's just that he's a lot smarter and his pandering often more subtle and couched in what sounds like superior knowledge. He's even clever enough to know, when he does flip on an issue, that it's better to just say "I was wrong, and here's why I changed," than to concoct bogus, obfuscating rationalizations for the old position and pretending that you haven't really changed your position.

He does know federal policy better than any of the other GOP hopefuls, and his mind is more clever and inventive. But he is often making stuff up or just outright lying. Doesn't the newspaper editorial board know that?

For example: today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which fact-checks politicians' statements, says that Newt's claim about the Dodd-Frank legislation was completely false.
Newt said that "Community banks are 12 percent of the banks right now and 40 percent of the loans to small businesses. And they are being destroyed by Dodd-Frank."

The AJC gives stats that show exactly the opposite. "Federal data show profitability has increased for community banks in the past 12 months. Community banks also have benefited from a reduction in fees paid to the FDIC as a result of Dodd-Frank."
That's the problem with Gingrich: he is so cock-sure and people think he knows what he's talking about. Throwing in those stats makes it sound authentic. But Newt has to know that he's lying.

If I were not a psychiatrist and therefore ethically bound to refrain from putting diagnostic labels on public figures I have not personally interviewed, I would say that he is a sociopath -- a very intelligent one, but a sociopath nonetheless. But I'm not supposed to say that, so I won't.