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Semiotics Lesson

[ 16 ] March 8, 2008 |

So saith some cornhole representative from Iowa:

An Iowa Republican congressman said Friday that terrorists would be “dancing in the streets” if Democratic candidate Barack Obama were to win the presidency.

Rep. Steve King based his prediction on Obama’s pledge to pull troops out of Iraq, his Kenyan heritage and his middle name, Hussein. . . .

“His middle name does matter,” King said. “It matters because they read a meaning into that.”

On that latter point, King is undoubtedly correct, as these historical examples suggest:

Barry Morris Goldwater. Recognizing the hidden meaning of his middle name, cats and their human companions voted overwhelmingly in favor of the 1964 Republican nominee, based largely on their conviction that he would not urinate in their shoes and scratch the fuck out of their couches. Unfortunately for Goldwater, people who did not want to perish in a tornado of fire also voted that year.

Richard Milhous Nixon. Though he was named for a small, yellow animated character from the future, Nixon’s middle name appears to have been inconsequential in his three presidential campaigns.

Herschel Vespasian Johnson. When Georgia’s former governor ran with Stephen Douglas on the 1860 Democratic ticket, opponents correctly feared that he — like his imperial Roman namesake — would conquer southwestern England, subdue Jewish revolts, and succumb in office to a fatal case of diarrhea. Burdened by these and other unfortunate associations, the Democratic party lost that year to Abraham Lincoln, who wisely avoided having a middle name.

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The Torturer In Chief

[ 12 ] March 8, 2008 |

President Bush, as most of you know, has used his veto powers sparingly. But on some issues — like more poor children getting health care — he simply can’t avoid using them. Today, he acts to advance another issue he feels strongly about: torture. He’s for it:

President Bush on Saturday further cemented his legacy of fighting for strong executive powers, using his veto to shut down a congressional effort to limit the Central Intelligence Agency’s latitude to subject terrorism suspects to harsh interrogation techniques that are prohibited by the military and law enforcement agencies.

Mr. Bush vetoed a bill that would have explicitly prohibited the agency from using such interrogation methods, which include waterboarding, a technique in which restrained prisoners are threatened with drowning and that has been the subject of intense criticism at home and abroad.

Less than a year left. But remember that Straight Talkin’ John McCain urged Bush to support torture as well. Indeed, unlike Joe Lieberman Zell Miller Hillary Clinton, I think that future Democratic candidate Barack Obama is in fact much better qualified to be Commander-In-Chief, and hopefully a majority of voters will reach the same conclusion.

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Who Would Win in a Fight?

[ 0 ] March 8, 2008 |

Han Solo vs. Jimmy McNulty?

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And Don’t Forget Those Negotiations With Tim Allen And Carrot Top

[ 17 ] March 8, 2008 |

Hillary Clinton, as you know, is claiming that having a considerable amount of foreign policy experience is crucial for the next President. Leaving aside the fact that she completely botched the most important vote of her Senate career by making an extremely bad judgment on foreign policy, the problem is that she doesn’t, in fact, have anything like a considerable amount of foreign policy experience. So how does she square the circle?

Pressed in a CNN interview this week for specific examples of foreign policy experience that has prepared her for an international crisis, Clinton claimed that she “helped to bring peace” to Northern Ireland [um] and negotiated with Macedonia to open up its border to refugees from Kosovo.

Sounds impressive! What was the nature of these high-level negotiations in Macedonia?

The Macedonian government opened its border to refugees the day before Clinton arrived to meet with government leaders. And her mission to Bosnia was a one-day visit in which she was accompanied by performers Sheryl Crow and Sinbad, as well as her daughter, Chelsea, according to the commanding general who hosted her.

The good news is that I’m slightly less worried about Clinton making Michael O’Hanlon her Secretary of State. The bad news is that I’m more worried about Gallagher becoming Secretary of State. Actually, I retract the bad news part — that would probably be an improvement.

Her Secretary of Defense, of course, will be her new BFF Straight Talkin’ War Mongerin’ John McCain.

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Hail to the Chief

[ 0 ] March 8, 2008 |

Here’s Trekkie Clausewitz, fitting the Powerliners for a pearl necklace:

Obama sees and describes himself as an astonishment to the world: the audacity of hope; an agent of change; the total transformation of the world; a blissful warrior against arrogance. He speaks in a messianic preacher-voice, because he sees himself as the Minister of the New (liberal fascist) World Order.

Which is of course totally not the way “the great bloggers of our time” have ever spoken of anyone:

I had the opportunity this afternoon to be part of a relatively small group who heard President Bush talk, extemporaneously, for around forty minutes. It was an absolutely riveting experience. It was the best I’ve ever seen him. Not only that; it may have been the best I’ve ever seen any politician. If I summarized what he said, it would all sound familiar: the difficult times we live in; the threat from Islamic fascism–the phrase drew an enthusiastic round of applause–the universal yearning for freedom; the need to confront evil now, with all the tools at our disposal, so that our children and grandchildren can live in a better and safer world. As he often does, the President structured his comments loosely around a tour of the Oval Office. But the digressions and interpolations were priceless.

The conventional wisdom is that Bush is not a very good speaker. But up close, he is a great communicator, in a way that, in my opinion, Ronald Reagan was not. He was by turns instructive, persuasive, and funny. His persona is very much that of the big brother. Above all, he was impassioned. I have never seen a politician speak so evidently from the heart, about big issues–freedom, most of all . . . .

It was, in short, the most inspiring forty minutes I’ve experienced in politics.

. . . I was in the middle of a faculty senate meeting when I posted this, so I was a little more abbreviated than I’d have liked. I should have added that it’s this sort of thing that’s going to make life incredibly easy if and when Obama secures the nomination. Wingnut bloggers who yodel about “teh messiah” are going to have to scrub years worth of archival wanking if they want lefty blogging to be anything more difficult than paint-by-numbers.

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Resignation, cont.

[ 0 ] March 7, 2008 |

I agree with Scott that Samantha Power’s resignation was probably the expedient course of action, though I’m disappointed by the nonsense of it all. Power clearly should have been more guarded in her conversations with The Scotsman, but the feigned hyperventilating over the “monster” remark has been pathetic given the thousand-fold greater absurdity of the Ken Starr analogy.

How long does anyone seriously believe the Clinton campaign would have allowed Power to remain before mainstreaming Paul Mirengoff’s absurd smear that she seeks the destruction of Israel? I’d have given it about two weeks.

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[ 12 ] March 7, 2008 |

One of the great things about living in the Pacific Northwest (at least the parts where people live) is that it only snows roughly 1-3 times per year, and doesn’t stay very long when it does. This means that snow takes on the quality of a novelty, which makes up in part for the difficulty it causes.

It’s fair to say that I no longer view snow as a novelty.

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Next Week on Law and Order…

[ 0 ] March 7, 2008 |


Italy’s highest appeal court has ruled that married Italian women who commit adultery are entitled to lie about it to protect their honour.

The court gave its landmark ruling after hearing the case of a 48-year-old woman, convicted of giving false testimony to police by denying she had lent her mobile phone to her lover.

The appeal court did not agree that she had broken the law.

It said bending the truth was justified to conceal extra-marital relationships.

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The Powers Resignation

[ 9 ] March 7, 2008 |

I think it was the best option for the Obama campaign.

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The Book or the Review?

[ 0 ] March 7, 2008 |

This review of Gusher Of Lies makes me wonder whether the bad arguments are the book’s or the reviewer’s. For example, Bryce’s attacks on ethanol seem very convincing, but in what way do they challenge “cherished green beliefs?” This is djw’s department, but it seems to me that the class of people pushing ethanol contains a rather higher percentage of “corn-growing interests and their political representatives” than “environmentalists.” Then there’s this:

Wind power and solar power have the added drawback of being intermittent and unpredictable. A town that relied entirely on solar or wind power would suffer constant service interruptions and wild fluctuations in output, which is why both technologies must be used in conjunction with traditional fossil-fuel generators.

You don’t say! One hopes that it’s Grimes and not Bryce who considers identifying the fact that wind and sunlight are not constants as potential problems in using them to generate power a monumental insight.

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Be More Funny! And Less Homophobic!

[ 40 ] March 7, 2008 |

Since I really, really Don’t Get Garrison Keillor, at least I can say that I don’t find this disillusioning. (I mean, given the esteem with which his wit is inexplicably held in many quarters, shouldn’t his attempt at homophobic humor at least involve some stereotypes that wouldn’t have stood out as stale cliches at a Dean Martin Celebrity Roast in 1971?)

[Via TS.]

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LGM Tourney Challenge

[ 18 ] March 7, 2008 |

I’ve created an ESPN group for this year’s Tournament.

Group Name: Lawyers, Guns and Money
password: zevon

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