Helle breaks loose

A case study in side-eye, as taught by the First Lady:

“That girl,” it turns out, is Helle Thorning-Schmidt, forty-seven this week, who for the past two years has served as Prime Minister of Denmark under Queen Margrethe II. A Social Democrat, she has pursued policies which these days are considered centrist; she’s married to Stephen Kinnock of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Obviously not just someone who caught the President’s eye. In fact, they’ve met before:

Helle Thorning-Schmidt with Barack Obama

And like the rest of us, she puts her shoes on one at a time:

Helle Thorning-Schmidt exits her car

Commentary has ranged from snarky to really snarky, with this tweet perhaps summing it up:

Michelle’s death stare is the distilled rage of a million black women losing the attentions of their men to white blondes.

Beyond that, deponent saith not.

Addendum: Well, maybe something more about the shoes.

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Quote of the week

What mattered about the President’s speech on the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s speech:

The fact is that the man who stood where King stood at the Lincoln Memorial today as the chief executive of the United States of America is one who would have had to have stood with King if too many white people wanted seats on the bus. He would have had to drink with King from water fountains that said “colored,” or sat in balconies instead of on the main floor of the theater, or eaten at the back door of the restaurant because no one would seat him, or walked with King past hotel after hotel until he finally came to one that would allow him to stay.

But he does not have to do any of these things. People stand when he enters. Traffic stops when he passes. The powerful call him, “Sir,” and address him not just as “Mister,” but “Mister President.” Martin Luther King Jr., had he not been slain just five years after this speech, would be 84 today and very possibly alive to see this.

And although he might have had to pinch himself to see if he was still dreaming, he would have found — I hope to his great pleasure and satisfaction — that he was not.

Of course, it’s not 1963 anymore, as some people need reminding now and then. The greatest legacy of Dr. King may be that we’ll never have to see 1963 again.

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Governmental overreach

If sometimes it seems as though Barack Obama will stop at nothing to increase governmental power — well, he still hasn’t come up with anything like this yet:

In one of history’s more absurd acts of totalitarianism, China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which [went into effect in 2007] and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is “an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation.” But beyond the irony lies China’s true motive: to cut off the influence of the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual and political leader, and to quell the region’s Buddhist religious establishment more than 50 years after China invaded the small Himalayan country. By barring any Buddhist monk living outside China from seeking reincarnation, the law effectively gives Chinese authorities the power to choose the next Dalai Lama, whose soul, by tradition, is reborn as a new human to continue the work of relieving suffering.

A statement by the current Dalai Lama (source):

When I am about ninety I will consult the high Lamas of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions, the Tibetan public, and other concerned people who follow Tibetan Buddhism, and re-evaluate whether the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not. On that basis we will take a decision. If it is decided that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama should continue and there is a need for the Fifteenth Dalai Lama to be recognized, responsibility for doing so will primarily rest on the concerned officers of the Dalai Lama’s Gaden Phodrang Trust. They should consult the various heads of the Tibetan Buddhist traditions and the reliable oath-bound Dharma Protectors who are linked inseparably to the lineage of the Dalai Lamas. They should seek advice and direction from these concerned beings and carry out the procedures of search and recognition in accordance with past tradition. I shall leave clear written instructions about this. Bear in mind that, apart from the reincarnation recognized through such legitimate methods, no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the People’s Republic of China.

Tenzin Gyatso, the current (14th) Dalai Lama, turned 78 this year.

(Via Pejman Yousefzadeh, largely for his post title.)

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Joe called it

And Steve Sailer reminds us of it:

I’m always fascinated by how often Stalin is vindicated in his observation that something bad happening to one person is a tragedy while it happening to a million is a statistic. For example, 500,000 black and Latin young men getting stopped and frisked annually for the last decade in New York City is a statistic that has mildly troubled some of the more sensitive souls in the New York elite, but hasn’t really been much of a story even locally, much less nationally, while Oprah not getting shown a $38,000 handbag is Breaking Global News. It’s like the vast outpouring of sympathy that greets the President of the United States whenever he recounts how his grandmother wanted a ride to work one day. You might think that being black in America has, on net, been good for Obama or Oprah, but that’s not a widespread impression.

More generally, human beings feel sorrier for immensely privileged people than they do for nobodies like shopgirls and grandmas.

Lest you think this phenomenon is somehow ethnic in origin, look who’s on the cover of Vanity Fair this month: Princess Diana. Sixteen years gone, and she still commands a magazine cover. It’s time for Playboy to haul out more Marilyn Monroe pictures, I suppose.

In the meantime: Boo. Frickin. Hoo.

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A fitting legacy

How will we remember the Obama administration? What single act encapsulates the entire experience?

If you ask me, it’s this one:

Federal wildlife officials plan to dispatch hunters into forests of the Pacific Northwest starting this fall to shoot one species of owl to protect another that is threatened with extinction.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Tuesday released a final environmental review of an experiment to see if killing barred owls will allow northern spotted owls to reclaim territory they’ve been driven out of over the past half-century.

The two other non-owl players in this scenario are not at all pleased:

“Shooting a few isolated areas of barred owl isn’t going to help us as forest managers, nor is it going to help the forest be protected from wildfires, and catastrophic wildfire is one of the big impediments to spotted owl recovery,” said Tom Partin, president of the American Forest Resource Council, a timber industry group.

Bob Sallinger, conservation director for the Audubon Society of Portland, said saving the spotted owl is of paramount importance, but the focus must remain on protecting habitat. “To move forward with killing barred owls without addressing the fundamental cause of spotted owl declines, from our perspective, is not acceptable,” he said.

This is not the first time the Feds have come up with a plan like this:

Between 2000 and 2006, wildlife officials captured and removed more than 40 golden eagles from the Channel Islands off Southern California to protect the island fox. They also hired a company to kill 5,000 feral pigs on Santa Cruz in a controversial program to restore the island’s ecosystem.

For some reason, they couldn’t persuade the eagles to dine on the pigs rather than on the foxes; large signs containing mandatory nutritional information, I suspect, might not have worked.

Still, they’re overlooking the most obvious solution: relocate the spotted owls to Detroit. One more predator there will scarcely be noticed.

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Click through

Said the President yesterday:

There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator.

I have every reason to believe that this is true, sad commentary on life in these semi-United States that it is. However, I’m outsourcing my threat analysis to Roberta X:

Pedestrians: Statistically, unlikely to harm or rob you.

Men: Statistically, unlikely to harm or rob you.

African-Americans: Statistically, unlikely to harm or rob you.

U. S. Senators: Start the draft, start wars, create new regulations and raise taxes. And it’s always the intent of a majority of them — often, a supermajority. When you see a Senator, lock your damn door!

Behavioral adjustment in 3… 2… 1… complete.

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To those emerging from darkness

Smitty has advice. He who has ears, let him hear:

[T]o all of the new Tea Party folks, let me pass on a warning: the two ears, one mouth rule applies. There is much to learn about the sordid realities of our government, as it’s deviated well off course. Relax. Focus the passion on sober, positive deeds that advance the Constitutional ball. Screaming about Barack Obama’s Martian birth certificate and obvious status as a High Priest of Cthulhu is ONLY ABETTING HIM.

I have no idea if mentioning Doug Mataconis, who is cited in Smitty’s post title, will cause him to suddenly materialize, in the manner of Kibo or Dave Sifry or even Conor Friedersdorf, but we shall see.

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No artificial coloring

Regular readers will be aware that I tend to be unimpressed with most of the President’s Big Ideas, but this comparatively smallish idea of his strikes me as seriously ingenious:

President Barack Obama revealed the strategy he and First Lady Michelle Obama use to keep their daughters away from tattoos:

“What we’ve said to the girls is, ‘If you guys ever decide you’re going to get a tattoo, then mommy and me will get the exact same tattoo, in the same place, and we’ll go on YouTube and show it off as a family tattoo’,” Obama said.

“Our thinking is that might dissuade them from thinking that somehow that’s a good way to rebel.”

Well played, Mr. President.

(Via Pejman Yousefzadeh, who calls it “a brilliant stratagem.”)

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Wide birth

In the last several years, only the Department of Public Safety has asked me for a copy of my birth certificate. Then again, I don’t occupy a public office, and I’ve never been subjected to this sort of thing:

There certainly should have been more of an effort by the right in general to police its own — our own — and to read the birthers out of the movement much as William F. Buckley read the John Birch movement out of conservatism back in his day.

I have long suspected that Barack Obama was trolling them all along.

And as they sowed, so shall they reap:

Birthers, it turns out, can be bipartisan. They have a new target — the rapidly rising GOP senator Ted Cruz.

Though he bears all the marks of a Texan — the swagger, the signature twang, and the ever-present cowboy boots — 42-year-old Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, to an American mother and a Cuban father. By dint of his mother’s citizenship, Cruz was an American citizen at birth. Whether he meets the Constitution’s requirement that the president of the United States be a “natural-born citizen,” a term the Framers didn’t define and for which the nation’s courts have yet to offer an interpretation, has become the subject of considerable speculation.

And it involves some of the same people who sparked conflict — and drew charges of racism — by raising questions about the circumstances of President Obama’s birth. Donald Trump, for one, says he is impressed by Cruz but hasn’t yet looked extensively at his background.

Because there’s nothing more important for a candidate than being vetted by Donald Trump.

I’m not at all keen on candidates keeping secrets. On the other hand, I’m going to wait until they open their mouths before I assume they’re lying.

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Person of the year

In this day and age, it’s hard to take Time seriously, especially their hotly hyped Person of the Year announcement, which hasn’t meant anything to me since 2006. This year’s selection, a chap named Barack Obama, is at least reasonable given Time’s avowed criterion: the person who, “for better or for worse … has done the most to influence the events of the year.” I would argue that Mr Obama deserves it more this year than he did in 2008, when he was pretending to be a blank slate.

Ralph GillesI get into this Person of the Year business myself somewhat reluctantly, but I have a criterion of my own to push: the individual who actually performed during the preceding months the act I think is most consonant with my own personal values, without benefiting me personally. [Note: This is decidedly at odds with the Time selection, which one always has to assume is done for the benefit of Time Warner, if not necessarily for its customers.] Based on that criterion, the most deserving individual for 2012, barring something miraculous happening in the next week, is Ralph V. Gilles, president and CEO of SRT Brand and Motorsports, and senior vice president of product design for Chrysler Group LLC.

This selection was perhaps foreshadowed by this piece I wrote in October:

Bloomberg News ran a piece a week ago that indicated Fiat, in its capacity as High Overlord of Chrysler, might be contemplating building Jeeps in China, and a phrase to the effect that they “may eventually make all their models in that country,” hinting at multiple lines, was apparently interpreted as meaning that Jeep was actually moving all its production to China. Which they aren’t, as Chrysler is taking pains to point out.

Which prompted the following exchange on Twitter:

Tweets by Donald Trump and Ralph Gilles

Few things in life are as satisfying on a gut level as telling Donald Trump that he’s full of shit. My congratulations to Mr Gilles, who in addition to this feat oversaw the revival of the Viper, SRT’s V-10 powered halo car, which adds further to his own personal halo.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Quote of the week

Smitty revisits the Debacle in Denver:

[M]aybe we need to recall that the Obama Administration is nothing if not the ultimate Vagina Monologue.

Viewed through that tunnel, if you will, what you saw was the Longsuffering Black Man endure Yet Another Beating from the Usual Male Suspect of European Extraction… [Y]ou have to assume the lamb-like, sacrificial role, as you fearlessly stand for Progress and Prefixed Justice (racial-, reproductive-, class-, economic-, voting-, sexual-, it doesn’t matter). You have to turn Mitt into a preppy Pontius Pilate, out to crucify the Chicago Savior for being unable to overcome the sins of BeelzeBush the anti-Clinton.

“Give us Barackus”? Gimme a break.

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From the If Only files

Steve Sailer, perhaps to stir the pot a little bit, has imagined two different scenarios in which we’d already had a black President:

  • Walter Mondale picks Tom Bradley for the Veep slot in 1984, manages to beat a rattled-in-the-debates Ronald Reagan, and is killed when Air Force One crashes;
  • Colin Powell, urged on by Mrs Powell, defeats Bob Dole, then Bill Clinton, in 1996.

Given either one of these scenarios, Sailer asks:

In either alternative history, does Barack Obama become the second black President? If there had already been a first black president, would anyone have ever even considered Obama to be Presidential Timber? Would you have ever even heard of Obama?

Sailer’s commentariat, at the moment, seems to be evenly split among Yes, No, and Blame the Jews. I figure we have fewer axes to grind here, so I’ve imported the question. (I lean towards No, but I’m willing to be shown the error of my ways, if such it be.)

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At lagerheads (again)

Does the man in the White House prefer Brown Ale? What possible difference could it make?

A scold writing for National Review here wonders if the president has broken laws by transporting his home brew across state lines on Air Force One, or if the brewing project is costing taxpayer money. As to the second: Since the president gets paid with taxpayer money I think that’s a given, plus this doesn’t strike me as the worst thing he’s spent that money on. As to the first: Lighten up, Francis.

At this rate, we’ll be running out of gnats at which to strain.

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Even in his youth

The cover of Mad #513, on sale Real Soon Now:

Cover of Mad 513

Bonus points if you can explain the title.

(The Idiotical.com is the Mad blog.)

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Yupward mobility

This question came into TTAC’s Piston Slap department:

I have the misfortune of working with a bunch of aspiring Yuppies. You know the types. The ones who believe that all American car companies make crap and the only true luxury cars come from Germany and Japan. Never mind the $1300 maintenance charge on their Audi or the fact that the Lexus ES is about as exciting as wilted corn flakes.

Long story short, I am sick and tired of hearing their crap. I want to buy the type of American car that will take these pompous, sniveling wussy boys and blow their stuck-upityness right out of their ass.

Actually, there’s a second rung: they spurn the Japanese entirely in favor of the products of der Vaterland. And if they had to judge by the ES, a Camry — not even an Avalon — oversprayed with Carnation Instant Glitz, I can’t say as I’d blame them. (From the “Like you have room to talk” files: yes, I drive an Infiniti I30, which is basically a Nissan Maxima in a prom dress.)

Putting myself into the role of yupster, if I had the same $40k this guy says he has to spend, I probably couldn’t get much in the way of Teutonic sleds unless BMW is planning a ¾-series, and while I could get a decent G37 for that kind of money, it’s not at all what he wants.

So I’m thinking Chrysler 300, which can be had for forty large in the C trim — yes, it’s got a Hemi — if you avoid checking every last box on the order form. It’s one of the few cars that gives off the impression that you’ll drive it onto your lawn, if necessary, to keep certain individuals off. Barack Obama used to have one, until he figured out that much of his base resented the hell out of big American cars, whereupon he switched to a meek hybrid.

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So much for His and Hers closets

There was some minor dustup a couple of years back over whether Barack Obama was wearing “mom jeans”; my thinking at the time was along the lines of “What the hell, at least Michelle isn’t wearing ‘em.”

Justin Bieber, on the other hand, is:

The Biebs told Life&Style in NYC Saturday night at Dolce and Gabbana’s Fashion’s Night Out that it just works the best for him.

“I’ve worn women’s jeans before because they fit me. It’s not a trend; it’s just, whatever works, works.”

And it doesn’t hurt that he totally looks like Ellen Page.

(Googlebait? Who, me?)

Disclosure: I used to be married, many years and several kilograms ago, and for a while we wore the same size jeans. Did we swap? Well, an attempt was made, but apparently I couldn’t handle the mirror-image fly with any degree of finesse.

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Quote of the week

We’re just totally bifurcated this week, so we’re nominating two pieces, one of which was short enough to be a tweet.

In the longer item, Sonic Charmer predicts the Presidential election:

I fully expect President Obama to still be President Obama in 2013 and will be surprised by any other outcome. In fact the thought of him losing re-election is almost (not quite, but almost) inconceivable to me. Why would he lose? Economy etc. aside, President Obama is doing precisely what the country elected him to do, which is to be President while being a slick, photogenic, skinny guy with a darkish skin hue. That is the only reason he was elected and therefore, empirically, that is what the country wanted him to do. And in no way shape or form has he fallen short of that mandate, nor does he threaten to any time in the foreseeable future.

And in a related issue, Dan McLaughlin, @baseballcrank, offered the following wisdom:

I do not believe today’s news changes the odds that Newt Gingrich will be the next President of the United States.

You heard it here — well, twenty-ninth or thirtieth, actually, but certainly not first.

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Deployment of the Presidential toe

Today would have been Margaret Truman’s 86th birthday, thus giving me the ideal excuse to bring up a Presidential legend: when Harry Truman, who happened to be Margaret’s dad, threatened to kick a Washington Post staffer in the balls — and who hasn’t wanted to do that?

In 1950, Margaret was working on a singing career, and she performed at Constitution Hall in December. WaPo critic Paul Hume gave her a right panning:

Miss Truman is a unique American phenomenon with a pleasant voice of little size and fair quality.

Which is one of the nicer things he said. Eventually he got down to “[she] still cannot sing with anything approaching professional finish,” at which point Harry reached for his pen:

It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful. When you write such poppy-cock as was in the back section of the paper you work for it shows conclusively that you’re off the beam and at least four of your ulcers are at work.

Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!

Hume, not particularly upset — hey, it’s his job to listen to that sort of thing — eventually sold the letter for $3500; it’s now in a collection in Texas. He died in 2001, nuts unkicked. Margaret commented later that she thought it was funny and might have helped sell a few tickets along the way.

Presidents don’t often make such gestures, though Barack Obama once offered the boot to BP officials.

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After 2012

The thinking around Chicago, reports HillBuzz, is that President Obama will not run for a second term:

They think he will use “family reasons” for not seeking re-election, either making up something about wanting his daughters to grow up outside the limelight of the White House, or even using grandmother Robinson as an excuse, saying she’s sick and Michelle Antoinette wants the family to relocate to Hawaii for their health.

I can believe the bit about the daughters, maybe: the White House can be one hell of a fishbowl, and not every child of a President aspires to being on display.

But then there’s this:

[David] Axelrod was recently on a Chicago Sunday political show and kept dodging all talk of the re-election campaign, which is like Oprah Winfrey turning down a large supreme pizza or a sandwich bigger than her head. It’s unheard of.

Axelrod’s favorite topic in the world is how he got Obama elected president, which means Axelrod’s second favorite topic in the world should be how he is going to re-elect Obama in 2012. He left the White House claiming that’s why he was moving back to Chicago, to focus on the re-election bid, and when given the perfect opportunity to wax on about that, and praise himself and his efforts, he completely dodged the topic, wanting nothing to do with it.

Unless, of course, we’re to believe that Axelrod has actually been thrown under the bus.

There’s a lot more, no individual item even close to being conclusive, but several of which theoretically might make sense. I think it’s safe to say, though, that if Obama does decide not to run for a second term, it won’t be because he’s scared to death of Mitt Romney.

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