Category ►►► Follies and Foibles
August 27, 2009
It's a Dead Man's Party
Well that didn't take long.
All right, I made a crass prediction yesterday. I writ:
Please pardon my irreverance (blasphemy?), but I wonder how many days will pass before Chris Dodd says, "If the Republicans had allowed us to pass a public option in the Senate, Ted Kennedy would be alive today!"
Then a few moments ago, I looked on Drudge to see that the Democrats have decided to rebrand ObamaCare as -- KennedyCare!
To infuse Kennedy into the health-care debate, Democrats are planning to affix the former senator's name to the health-care legislation that emerges from Congress.
The idea of naming the legislation for Kennedy has been quietly circulating for months but was given a new push today by Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., the only person who served with Kennedy for all his 47 years in the Senate.
I say that's as near as makes no difference to my quasi-unofficial prediction: It took but a few hours for the Left to decide, almost unanimously, to work a grisly version of Weekend at Teddy's, dragging the old man's corpse to political rallies like Dracula in his coffin. (I could get truly Clive Barker-esque on you all by making sly references to Green Helmet Guy instead, but I have too much class.)
It is hard to avoid the eerie coincidence, however: Tedro's brother got elected president on dead men's votes in Texas and Illinois; and now the Democrats want to ride the coat-tails of Dead Ted into a government takeover of health care. "Complete the sequence, Mr. President!"
Do I seem boorishly insensitive, insufficiently respectful, a little too little de mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est? No apologies; I think the Democrats are being a thousand times more disrespectful of the DKs by drafting Teddy into the cause posthumously... even though he himself would love it.
It's the most vile of emotional appeals; but worse than a crime against seemliness, it's a terrific blunder by liberals: They have, once again, mistaken their looking-glass fantasy for the real world, as they honestly believe that the rest of the country is heartbroken by the not exactly untimely death (he was a very old 77) of Sen. Edward Moore Kennedy.
They seem to think that the outpouring of grief and wailing noises will so overwhelm America, that the townhall shouters will fall to their knees, beg forgiveness of Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT, 100%) and Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 100%), and go and sin no more against Obamunism.
Who could ask for more?
Leave your body at the door
Leave your body and soul at the door!
I rather suspect that this will be seen instead as the most disgusting political hijacking since the "memorial" for Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota, which was turned into a foam-at-the-mouth, three-ring political circus of anti-Republican hatemongering -- led by Wellstone's sons and by former Vice President Walter Mondale, as if the Republican candidate, Norm Coleman, had personally shot down Wellstone's plane with a Stinger.
And the voters indeed responded to that emotional emesis: They responded by shifting decisively in Coleman's favor... simultaneously electing Coleman to the U.S. Senate and also turning Mondale into the only man to have lost a national election in all fifty states.
(Alas, Coleman was on the chopping block himself in 2008, ultimately being replaced by -- Al "Big Boy" Franken.)
Democrats have two great mottos: Never let a good crisis go to waste, and never miss an opportunity to egregiously underestimate the intelligence of the American voter. Sometimes, as with the election of Barack H. Obama, the electorate lives down to expectations; but most of the time, they know all along what the Democrats really think of them, and they resent the hell out it.
August 21, 2009
Ridge Line: Much Ado About Hardly Anything
When I read this headline...
Bush Official, in Book, Tells of Pressure on ’04 Vote
I somehow expected something a bit more scandalous (or even salacious!) than this:
Tom Ridge, the first secretary of homeland security, asserts in a new book that he was pressured by top advisers to President George W. Bush to raise the national threat level just before the 2004 election in what he suspected was an effort to influence the vote.
After Osama bin Laden released a threatening videotape four days before the election, Attorney General John Ashcroft and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld pushed Mr. Ridge to elevate the public threat posture but he refused, according to the book. Mr. Ridge calls it a “dramatic and inconceivable” event that “proved most troublesome” and reinforced his decision to resign....
Keith M. Urbahn, a spokesman for Mr. Rumsfeld, said the defense secretary supported letting the public know if intelligence agencies believed there was a greater threat, and pointed to a variety of chilling Qaeda warnings in those days, including one tape vowing that “the streets of America will run red with blood.”
“Given those facts,” Mr. Urbahn said, “it would seem reasonable for senior administration officials to discuss the threat level. Indeed, it would have been irresponsible had that discussion not taken place.”
(What next -- will Ridge hint that one of the Bush daughters has become a notorious thespian, and the former president himself sometimes even masticates in public?)
In October 2001, George W. Bush named Tom Ridge the first head of the newly created Office of Homeland Security within the White House; when Congress passed the Homeland Security Act of 2002, creating the Department of Homeland Security, Ridge slid seamlessly into that position. His qualification for both positions appears to have been that he was a popular, Roman Catholic, pro-choice governor, and that he served with distinction as a sergeant in Vietnam.
I have nothing against sergeants. I'm just at a loss how this translates to becoming Secretary of Homeland Security.
Even Ridge himself won't quite commit to accusing Bush of manipulating the national-security color code for political gain... Ridge just tosses the suggestion into the D.C. maelstrom and lets nature -- the politically obsessed nature of Democrats -- do his dirty work for him. But this is weak tea even for those purposes:
The most sensational assertion was the pre-election debate in 2004 about the threat level, first reported by U.S. News & World Report. Mr. Ridge writes that the bin Laden tape alone did not justify a change in the nation’s security posture but describes “a vigorous, some might say dramatic, discussion” on Oct. 30 to do so.
“There was absolutely no support for that position within our department. None,” he writes. “I wondered, ‘Is this about security or politics?’ Post-election analysis demonstrated a significant increase in the president’s approval rating in the days after the raising of the threat level.”
Mr. Ridge provides no evidence that politics motivated the discussion. Until now, he has denied politics played a role in threat levels. Asked by Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times if politics ever influenced decisions on threat warnings, he volunteered to take a lie-detector test. “Wire me up,” Mr. Ridge said, according to Mr. Lichtblau’s book, “Bush’s Law.” “Not a chance. Politics played no part.”
As it stands, this appears to be an even more transparent -- and even less successful -- "am-Bushing" (for purposes of selling a bunch of books) than Scott McClellan's smell-all What Happened. (Or was that What Happened to My Career?)
The publication of McClellan's "memoir" was timed to coincide with the 2008 election, kicking off an anti-Bush campaign by McClellan that culminated in his highly publicized endorsement of Barack H. Obama on (I rib you not) D.L. Hughley Breaks the News. (Or was that D.L. Hughley Breaks the Wind?)
Here is the McClellan finale -- alas, taken from his Wikipedia entry; nevertheless, it's accurate, to the best of my recollection:
As a result of his assertions in his book, McClellan was invited to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. When asked about his testimony McClellan said: "I don't have anything incriminating to say here if that's what you're looking for." During the actual testimony McClellan said: "I do not think the president had any knowledge" [of the revelation of Valerie Plame Wilson's identity]; "In terms of the vice president, I do not know." While being questioned by Rep. Ric Keller, R-Fla., McClellan conceded that the president had never asked him to shade the truth, use innuendo or employ propaganda, nor ordered anyone else to do so in his presence.
Since then, McClellan appears to have accomplished... well, nothing. But since he hadn't accomplished anything before resigning and writing his pusillanimous potboiler, his post-career non-career wasn't much of a come-down. (At least Tom Ridge gets to sit on a bunch of boards of directors as a phony-baloney expert on economics.)
I suspect that Tom Ridge's "memoir" will have even less impact than McClellan's epic poem, What's Happening! -- or whatever it's called; and Ridge, too, will eventually be relegated to the Date with Ignomy Memorial Marching Society, where he can sit between Alger Hiss and David Brock while he swills his thin gruel.
June 7, 2006
Macy's in Boston yielded to pressure today and removed a public display involving a flag. But the "usual suspects" had nothing to do with it. This time, it was a conservative group that used a tactic more reminiscent of liberal protesters:
Macy’s department store found itself mired in a fierce national debate between conservatives and gay activists when it bowed to complaints and removed part of a window display marking Boston [Gay] Pride Week....
[T]he store yanked the mannequins from the window after MassResistance, the conservative group formerly named Article 8 Alliance which has also campaigned against sex education and gay-themed books in public schools, complained the display was offensive.
“They were male mannequins with enlarged breasts, and one was wearing a skirt,” said MassResistance president Brian Camenker, referring to the gay pride flag wrapped around one figure, cinched with a white belt. “It was really disgusting.”
Don't get me wrong; I have no problem with a male mannequin wearing a skirt, a flag, or a gay-pride flyer. But what's funny is the reaction of the ACLU, the high priests of Our Lady of Perpetual Offense:
ACLU of Massachusetts spokeswoman Sarah Wunsch decried Macy’s for “succumbing to the bigotry” of a fringe anti-gay group.
Well, as Dafydd always says, "what's sauce for the goose is cooked by its own petard."
February 12, 2006
And In Other News, the VP Shot a Friend of His Today
Hey, it isn't every day I can title a post like that!
It was a minor hunting accident; and interestingly, an eyewitness makes it clear it was more the fault of the shootee than the shooter:
Katharine Armstrong, the ranch's owner, said Sunday that Cheney was using a 28-guage [sic] shotgun and that Whittington was about 30 yards away when he was hit in the cheek, neck and chest....
Armstrong said she was watching from a car while [Vice President Dick] Cheney, [Harry] Whittington and another hunter got out of the vehicle to shoot at a covey of quail.
Whittington shot a bird and went to retrieve it in the tall grass, while Cheney and the third hunter walked to another spot and discovered a second covey.
Whittington "came up from behind the vice president and the other hunter and didn't signal them or indicate to them or announce himself," Armstrong said.
"The vice president didn't see him," she continued. "The covey flushed and the vice president picked out a bird and was following it and shot. And by god, Harry was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good."
Whittington appears to be all right; there is no indication that the shot from the small-barreled shotgun caused any serious damage:
Armstrong, owner of the Armstrong Ranch where the accident occurred, said Whittington was bleeding after he was shot and Cheney was very apologetic.
"It broke the skin," she said of the shotgun pellets. "It knocked him silly. But he was fine. He was talking. His eyes were open. It didn't get in his eyes or anything like that.
The VP's EMR team and ambulance treated Whittington at the scene, then took him to the hospital. Cheney visited him there and said he was "doing fine and in good spirits."
There's not much to this story; hunting is inherently a dangerous activity -- as are target shooting and hiking, the two components of hunting -- and Whittington unwittingly broke a cardinal rule not to step into the possible line of fire without alerting the shooter that you're there.
But let's see how long it takes for the Democrats to politicize it! (We should have a betting pool, except I'm too lazy to set one up.)
December 19, 2005
I had my annual Thanksmas party last night, and the -- oh, should I explain that?
Back when I was at university (UC Santa Cruz), I didn't always have enough money to go home for the holidays; so I decided I should have a party and invite my friends. The problem was that everyone I knew went home for Thanksgiving, and then they went home for Christmas, too. So I decided to invent a holiday right in the middle... and what else could I call it but Thanksmas?
I'm a fairly good cook, and back in those days I couldn't get enough of roast turkey... so I would always bake a turkey with both rice and cornbread stuffing, gravy (duh), my candied sweet potatoes, and whatever other truck and goodies I felt like preparing. I kept up the Thanksmas holiday until it became a habit, and then habit became tradition. Now, I don't know how my friends would get through a single year of their drab, wretched lives if they didn't have the ab Hugh Thanksmas party to look forward to.
I did make one change: as my finances improved from the school days, I got more and more exotic in my choice of feast to prepare. I decided I would always try to cook some unusual food that I'd never cooked before, just to see how well I could wing it before an audience of gastrophiles. I've made Chinese roast duck, bouillabaisse, and last year we had wild boar with venison sausage and ground buffalo appetizer.
This year, I decided on a change of pace, from American frontier to the Spain of Cervantes, Rodrigo, and Segovia: I prepared paella -- a Spanish oleo of chicken, ham, and various shellfish (squid, clams, mussels, shrimp, and a couple of live Maine lobsters I threw in), cooked with basmati rice and lots and lots of fresh saffron (I always keep saffron threads on hand for such occasions).
My lovely wife Sachi -- who is also a first-rate cook -- prepared five "tapas" dishes... basically, Spanish pub food, the stuff they serve you if you order drinks in Spain: a little meat-pie doohicky (my favorite, sort of like Spanish kreplach), a veggie pie, a fascinating spicy eggplant dish (that I couldn't eat; I'm sometimes sensitive to eggplant), potatoes in a saffron-tomato sauce, and spicy pork skewers that must have come into Spanish cuisine from Moorish kebabs during the period where much of Spain was considered "al Andaluz").
Speaking of drinks, I made a wicked sangria, starting with a Reàl Sangria imported from Espania [I think that translates to royal blood-wine, but my knowledge of Spanish is limited to whatever bits they used on the TV show Zorro], some Three Palms rum (my favorite -- I could just drink it straight from the bottle, if Sachi would let me), Dekuyper apple schnapps (the best), the juice of two oranges, some key-lime juice, black grapes, blackberries, and Granny Smith apple slices. For dessert, I served a reasonably good Madeira (Spanish version of Portuguese port, which is what I normally drink) and some Amontillado sherry imported from (where else?) Spain.
I invited a couple of very long-time friends of ours, Lee and Dianne (I've known them for about twenty-seven years), plus also a much more recent pair of friends: Patterico and his lovely wife, Patterica.
Usually, my Thanksmas parties end up in deep philosophical and political discussions that rage for hours... shockingly enough, especially considering the company, I don't think we hardly discussed politics at all. Mostly we seemed to talk music, especially opera: the Pattericos had just come from watching Tosca at the Music Center here in Los Angeles, and that happens to be Sachi's favorite opera. Lee is also a fan of opera -- which left myself and Dianne as the only two Philistines who had never watched one of those opera thingies all the way through (assuming you don't count Gilbert & Sullivan). For a description of the performance itself, you couldn't do better than Patterico's review. Even I followed it!
The music I selected was a collection of flamenco guitar, a couple of different CDs of Rodrigo and other Spanish classical composers, the Christmas collection Angels by Benise (a modern Spanish guitar band), and one of Sachi's favorites, the Gipsyland album Arte. Complimented the meal perfectly.
The conversation is usually driven by my friend and sometime collaborator on fiction, Brad Linaweaver; alas for us, Brad just inherited a ton of money, and he's off in Florida tending whatever tasks go along with being a multimillionaire. Presumably he'll be available for next year's Thanksmas... but it was likely his absence (and the presence of the Pats) that steered the conversation in a more musical direction.
It was a wonderful evening, and I think my paella came out very good... the only person who didn't seem to want to eat any was Patterica, and I think she might have been just a little squirmish: the recipe I was more or less following insisted the shrimps should be cooked with head, tail, and shell intact, to keep them juicy. And I must admit, they were quite succulent indeed; I may cook them that way from now on. But I think the ladylike Mrs. P. might have been a little offput: I think she wasn't used to looking at her plate of food and seeing it look back at her!
(Besides, the shrimp got us into a discussion of some Japanese dishes that rather resemble Klingon food.)
But she wreaked havoc on the tapas appetizers that Sachi had prepared, and Patterico cleaned their joint plate, so I hope they both were prandially satisfied.
Someday, I hope to visit Spain; and when I do, I guarantee we'll hit two or three of those "Paella On the Beach" places, where the guy with the six-foot diameter frying pan cooks paella for forty or fifty people right on the Mediterranean shore. (When we travel, we tend to think far more of exotic cuisines than museums, statues, ruins, or scenic vistas; when we were in Scotland a few years ago, we stopped in the first place we found that sold haggis, each ate an order... and liked it so much, we had a second order apiece. Sachi swears she heard one of the serving wenches whispering to the other about those "crazy Americans" who wanted a second helping of sheep intestines. But it was great!)
I can't imagine living in a world without wonderful meat in it. Maybe next year, I'll roast some zebra, or an armadillo, or turducken (if I can find a butcher who can bone and butterfly a turkey, a duck, and a chicken). And please remind me never to join PETA.
Well, it's a quarter to three (there's no one in the place 'cept you and me); Sachi is sacked out on the couch, having sampled just a little too much Amontillado; and the dragonfly candle is guttering. It's time to wake Sachi up to tell her it's time to go to sleep, blow out the candle, and light this candle before I write any more. Buonas noches, all.
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