Saturday, June 14, 2008

Beware The Chicago Boys, Naomi Klein, and The Guardian (UK)

Journalist Naomi Klein has written a column for The Guardian (UK) entitled "Beware The Chicago Boys".

Hmmmmm.....I'll be needing a few tools....
Scalpel - thanks.

Laptop - got it.
Righteous Indignation - I've got plenty.
Various Free Market Websites - check.
Copy of Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics (3rd edition) - got it.
Chainsaw - yep.
Metzenbaum scissors - check.
Let the Fisking begin !

Here's Naomi Klein:

Beware the Chicago boys
Obama's vow of love for free markets gives reason to fear a replay of Bill Clinton's 1993 U-turn

Where to begin with Naomi Klein. Where to begin.... It's a rare editorial that contains so many easy targets in just the headline. Is there anyone other than tenured faculty and union thugs who "fear" a replay of Bill Clinton's 1990's economy, also known as the 1990's economic boom? How can someone even type that sentence without her computer melting?

by Naomi Klein
The Guardian,
Saturday June 14 2008

One final aside, and I'll be through ripping the headline, the summary, the author, The Guardian, and the (surprisingly accurate) date.... I've been reading a lot of British and Australian bloggers for the last year, bloggers who occasionally use the term "Grolies". When I finally bothered to look it up, I learned that Grolies is a British/Australian acronym for "Guardian Reader Of Limited Intelligence in Ethnic Skirt".

That has nothing to do with the business at hand. I just thought it was funny. I don't mean to imply that Ms. Klein wears ethnic skirts.

Now, back to Naomi Klein's Guardian article about Barack Obama's association with the Economics department at The University of Chicago.
Barack Obama waited just three days after Hillary Clinton pulled out of the race to declare, on CNBC: "Look. I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market." Demonstrating that this is no mere spring fling, he has appointed the 37-year-old Jason Furman, one of Wal-Mart's most prominent defenders, to head his economic team. On the campaign trail, Obama blasted Clinton for sitting on the Wal-Mart board and pledged: "I won't shop there."

This is one of my favorite photos of all time. That's Mr. Sam Walton sitting front and center. To the left of Mr. Sam is the wife of the then-governor of Arkansas, who at the time was serving on the Wal-Mart board of directors. And here's a link to an article suggesting that Sam Walton was worthy of a Nobel. I've never understood the ravenous anti-WalMart bias. Name anyone else who has eliminated more poverty than Sam Walton.

Barack Obama's Craniofacial Duplication on the issue of Wal-Mart is to be expected now that he's defeated the Hildebeest. It was an easy target when he was catering to the Democratic base, but now, going against McCain, he's got to worry about semi-rational thought.

For Furman, however, Wal-Mart's critics are the real threat: the "efforts to get Wal-Mart to raise its wages and benefits" are creating "collateral damage" that is "way too enormous and damaging to working people and the economy ... for me to sit by idly and sing Kum Ba Ya in the interests of progressive harmony".
Could Wal-Mart pay its employees more? Of course. Could The Guardian? Yep. Could Naomi Klein pay more for rent than she has to? Could she pay more for gasoline? Could she pay double the going rate for psychiatric care? You betcha. If word gets out that Naomi Klein is willing to pay $500 an hour for lawn service, people will wait in line to take her money.

Ms. Klein could also try to charge a lot more for insane journalistic diatribes against Free Markets. She could charge more for her books. She could charge fifty bucks an hour to let people watch her spread Peanut Butter on her front porch while she sang excerpts from "Evita". But in this case, people would NOT wait in line to give her more money. People would shop around for a better deal. She would find that people are reluctant to pay more than the going rate for diatribes, books, or high protein Evita performances.

The glory of the Free Market system is that people can pay what they're willing to pay for goods and services, and they can charge whatever they want to charge for their own goods and services.
But you only get a deal done whenever the amount you're willing to pay is more than the amount someone else is willing to charge.

Obama's love of markets and his desire for "change" are not inherently incompatible. "The market has gotten out of balance," he says, and it most certainly has. Many trace this profound imbalance to the ideas of Milton Friedman, who launched a counter-revolution against the New Deal from his perch at the University of Chicago.
Allow me a brief diversion into The Chicago School of Economics. Friedrich Freakin' Hayek taught there. Milton Friedman, ditto. Gary Becker. Robert Lucas. George Stigler. Perhaps because of the school's geographic isolation (?), it produced eight Nobel prize winners. Eight of them. They dominate. They are to the discipline of economics what Michael Jordan's Bulls once were to basketball.

And here there are more problems, because Obama - who taught law at Chicago for a decade - is embedded in the mindset known as the Chicago School.
She says that like it's a bad thing.

Obama chose as his chief economic adviser Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago economist on the left side of a spectrum that stops at the centre-right. Goolsbee, unlike his Friedmanite colleagues, sees inequality as a problem.
I don't believe that any "Friedmanite colleagues" have ever denied that inequality is a problem. Here's the problem: If you have freedom, or liberty, you're not going to have equality. Mostly because....people aren't equal. Naomi Klein makes more money than the guy who cleans your office restrooms. Bill Gates makes more than Naomi Klein. Part of it is effort, part of it is talent, and part of it is luck. The average world income is somewhere around $6,000. To achieve financial equality, all you have to do is give away your surplus until you're left with only 6K.
So let's get real.
We're not going to voluntarily do that.
The government would have to make us do so. So the mirror image of the statement above is that if you have equality, you're not going to have freedom or liberty.
It comes down to this. What do you value most? What is better for society? Freedom or Equality? How about getting government out of the way, and let everyone be "Free" to do whatever "Equals" their skills, desires, and talents?

His primary solution, however, is more education - a line you can also get from Alan Greenspan.
Only in The Guardian do writers express horror over the Clinton 1990's economic boom and Alan Greenspan. Good Lord in heaven.

Goolsbee has been eager to link Obama to the Chicago School. "The guy's got a healthy respect for markets," he told Chicago magazine. "It's in the ethos of the [University of Chicago], which is something different from saying he is laissez faire."
Not really. Goolsbee is just trying to chill out his Moonbat Party Base with that statement. Laissez faire, AKA leave it alone, expresses most of the Chicago Schools core values better than any other two word statement. (I'm qualified to comment on these things, because I work in the shipping, freight, and logistics industry.)

Another of Obama's Chicago fans is the 39-year-old billionaire Kenneth Griffin, the CEO of the hedge fund Citadel. Griffin, who gave the maximum allowable donation to Obama, is a poster boy for an unbalanced economy. He got married at Versailles, and is one of the staunchest opponents of closing the hedge-fund tax loophole.
Of course he's a staunch opponent of closing tax loopholes. Once an industry pays Congress to create a tax loophole, they expect the loophole to stay open. But that's fodder for another day.

While Obama talks about toughening trade rules with China, Griffin has been bending the few barriers that do exist. Despite sanctions prohibiting the sale of police equipment, Citadel has been pouring money into controversial China-based security companies that are putting the local population under unprecedented levels of surveillance.
Well, dang it, Naomi, which one do you want? Communist China was set up as a Marxist state, where total equality was to be the rule, the goal, and the law. As I pointed out above, the only way to achieve that goal is to take away freedom.
If Red China is purchasing Kenneth Griffin's police equipment, do you think they're using that police equipment to combat left wing Communist Party members?
I don't think so.
Does the Chinese government want to purchase truncheons to combat socialism?
The Chinese government is exactly and precisely what you get when the economic philosophy of The Guardian is put in place. Naomi Klein should be grateful to Kenneth Griffin, and add him to her Christmas card list. He's helping the Red Chinese put down renegade Free Market capitalists who want to overthrow their idiotic government.

Now is the time to worry about Obama's Chicago Boys and their commitment to fending off regulation. It was in the two-and-a-half months between winning the 1992 election and being sworn into office in 1993 that Bill Clinton did a U-turn on the economy. He had promised to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement, adding labour and environmental provisions - but two weeks before his inauguration, the then Goldman Sachs chief, Robert Rubin, convinced him of the urgency of embracing liberalisation.
I cannot believe she's saying that. Heck, I can't believe anyone took it and printed it, either. Clinton's embrace of Free Trade gave us one heck of an economic run. There were years when the U.S. government actually took in more than it spent ! ! ! What is wrong with that?

Furman, a Rubin disciple, was chosen to head the Brookings Institution's Hamilton Project, the thinktank Rubin helped found to argue for the free trade agenda. Add to that Goolsbee's February meeting with Canadian officials, who got the impression that they should not take Obama's anti-Nafta campaigning seriously, and there is every reason for concern about a replay of 1993.
As Brer Rabbit said in the Uncle Remus stories, "Please, please, please don't throw us back in that briar patch."

The irony is that there is absolutely no reason for this backsliding. The movement launched by Friedman, introduced by Ronald Reagan and entrenched under Clinton faces a legitimacy crisis around the world - nowhere more evident than at the University of Chicago itself.
It's almost like she's talking about a pre-Reagan/Friedman Garden of Eden. Is she fondly reminiscing about Jimmy Carter's stagflation? Nixon's absolutely disastrous experiment with wage and price controls?

In May, when the university president Robert Zimmer announced the creation of a $200m Milton Friedman Institute, more than 100 faculty members signed a letter of protest.
I just spent 20 minutes Googling in vain, trying to find the names and departments of the faculty who signed this letter. I can't find any online reference to a letter of protest, other than those based on this editorial. Does anyone fact-check Ms. Klein's typing? You can't prove it so far. Can anyone let me know which members of the French, Mythology, Womyn's Studies, Physical Education and Anthropology Departments signed this thing? Or is it another fabrication, like the Jimmy Carter Golden Age of Prosperity? Please help.

"The effects of the neoliberal global order ... strongly buttressed by the Chicago School of Economics, have by no means been unequivocally positive," the letter states. "Many would argue that they have been negative for much of the world's population."
"Many would argue?" Like, they would argue, but haven't yet? Who, in this time of post-Marxist greatness would argue it? And how much is "much" of the world's population?
There's more precision than this in the works of Nostradamus.

But they're partly correct. Nothing is "unequivocally" positive. Never has been, never will be. Markets have winners and losers. Buggy whip manufacturers go out of business. Betamax doesn't take off. Yugos go unpurchased. The musical output of Kevin Federline remains on the shelf in shrinkwrap, unwanted and unloved. And the government doesn't have to do a thing about it, thanks to Milton Friedman and The Chicago School of Economics. It's better that way.

When Friedman died in 2006, the memorials spoke only of grand achievement, with one of the more prominent appreciations, in the New York Times, written by Goolsbee. Yet now, just two years later, Friedman's name is seen as a liability even at his own alma mater. So why has Obama chosen this moment, when all illusions of a consensus have dropped away, to go Chicago retro?
I just finished Googling every phrase that Ms. Klein has provided from the letter/petition. Can't find a word about it anywhere that wasn't provided by Ms. Klein and The Guardian. I don't think we're talking about a massive groundswell of a movement here. And you can go to Friedman's Alma Mater's website, and as of June 14th 2008, Milton Friedman's name is a marketing tool, not a liability.

The news is not all bad. Furman claims he will be drawing on the expertise of two Keynesian economists: Jared Bernstein, of the Economic Policy Institute, and James Galbraith, son of Friedman's nemesis, John Kenneth Galbraith. Our "current economic crisis", Obama recently said, is "the logical conclusion of a tired and misguided philosophy that has dominated Washington for far too long".
Ah, the Keynesians. In my opinion, there are only two things you need to know about the effectiveness of Keynesians economics:
1. They generally believe that only government can quickly, efficiently and effectively pull the control levers of an economy. (Government = Keynesian economists in government jobs)
2. I still don't have my economic stimulus check.

True enough. But before Obama can purge Washington of the scourge of Friedmanism, he has some ideological house cleaning of his own to do.
The scourge of Friedmanism. It hurts my fingers to type the sentence.
If Obama gets elected, I don't think he'll be purging Washington of Friedmanism. That would be like purging Washington of Cherry blossoms, the Jefferson Memorial, and anything else decent. I bet he keeps the economic engine running right where it is. Because thanks to Milton Friedman and The Chicago Boys, that's where the tracks run.

Friday, June 13, 2008

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends, Fort Worth Edition

Here are some links from my favorite Fort Worth bloggers, plus one or two from Dallas - our suburb to the east.
Steve-O at The Caravan of Dreams has a post that makes use of the terms "Heineken" and "Proustian memory rush". His office is cooler than mine.

My good friend and grandmother surrogate Dr. Liz briefly wonders how the Southern Baptist Convention can evict Broadway Baptist Church, when they kinda left it about twenty years ago. Dr. Liz's blog, Zbeth Journall, is the authoritative online document covering canine activity at Fort Woof park. I hope she'll start posting a brief review/synopsis of every mystery novel she reads.

Pete at Cowtown Chronicles is offended by the idea of Democrats For McCain. In addition to being a welcome Serial Commenter on this site, he runs something called "Drinking Liberally", a left-wing equivalent to my beloved "Libertarian Meetup".

Ken Shimamoto, The Stash Dauber, in a generous humanitarian gesture, has collected 4 different Youtube clips of The Yardbirds doing the blues classic "Train Kept A-Rollin' ". Ken also runs the I Love Fort Worth blog, where he's got a good list of stuff you can do in The Town Of The Cow for free. Or close to it.

Anton at Deliberate Industries is doing his part to fight Global Cooling. Check out the itinerary. then go forward and backward a few posts. Anton is this interesting kid who wants to be a film maker / director / producer. Somehow, he gets to roam the earth making movies. I stay home and feed weiner dogs. We both probably have the karma we deserve.

Pete Geniella is a pro photographer. Check out the image from inside the shower, which I chose more or less at random. Pete knows his stuff.

Dr. Ralph is getting busier and busier at The Journal of Post Ralphaelite Thought. He's got Bob Barr on The Colbert Report. Like Dr. Liz, he's got some interesting commentary on the Southern Baptists kicking out the Broadway Baptists for providing a welcome sanctuary for the Gay and Lesbian Baptists. The Good Doctor also takes excessive delight in the city of Dallas struggling with Cesar Chavez Boulevard.

Suzette at Morning Coffee, Evening Wine generally raises hell and rolls stumps under it. All the time. East Fort Worth is a better place with her living here. I'm not even bothering to link to a specific post. Suzette grabs an issue, writes emails, takes pictures, picks up the phone, and changes things. Hit that link a year from now, and she'll be doing the same thing about a different problem.

Durango Texas attacks one of our mutual pet peeves in this post, which is a relatively calm attack on corporations getting tax breaks and other Free Lunches. D.T. explains that Cabela's is a company that specializes in tax breaks. That is all they do. Any rumors of them being a sporting goods company are just that. Rumors.

Francis at Food and Fort Worth has a eulogy on the untimely passing of Tim Russert.

And let's close this with a tribute to the late Steve Buckellew, who passed away this April. Steve and I were just beginning to correspond when he left us. He wrote some funny stuff.

For The Libertarian Party of Texas

This is in honor of the Texas Libertarian Party's State Convention, held this weekend in Fort Worth.
In this clip network anchorman Howard Beale, the "Mad Prophet Of The Airwaves", decides he's had enough.
I don't remember the movie well enough to describe what triggered this outburst.

Perhaps Howard has recently learned that his share of the national debt is $30,000.00
Maybe he's learned that we coulda colonized Mars for the current cost of the Iraq war.
Maybe he read a Cal Thomas article that claims Barack Obama is not a Christian.
Perhaps he's tired of watching the 2nd Amendment be dismantled as a result of various Victim Disarmament Acts.
Perhaps he figured out why our Coca-Colas have to be made with corn syrup instead of sugar. (Hint: it has nothing to do with taste.)
Regardless of the trigger, Howard Beale says "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this any more !"

That particular piece of greatness was written by Paddy Chayefsky, for the movie "Network".

Libertarians Will Not Work Hard For You. We Promise.

In one of the more delightful ironies of this decade, the Democrats are shutting down the Senate Dining Hall so they can (audible gasp!) privatize it.

This particular government-run eatery has lost $18,000,000 since 1993. Is there any other restaurant on earth that could lose one million a year and still keep cranking out chicken dinners?

Here's Jonah Goldberg on Senator Dianne Feinstein's decision to shut down the dining hall :

Feinstein, to her credit, witnessed an abject failure of government right under her nose — on her plate, in fact — and did something about it. “It’s clearly not the sort of thing that I ran for the Senate to do,” she said, according to the (Washington) Post. “But somebody has to do it.”

Let's look at one word. Why is it "clearly" not the sort of thing she ran for the Senate to do? It seems reasonably clear that the Senate Dining Hall should've been shut down and privatized about 15 years ago.

Contrast Senator Feinstein's moment of non-clarity with this act of almost total transparency from Rep. Maxine Waters (Hat Tip to Grouchy Old Cripple):

She actually utters the dreaded word "socialize", repents in sackcloth and ashes, tries to think of "nationalize", can't pull that off, and settles for "taking over".

Is there anyone out there, outside of the editorial staff of The Nation magazine, who actually thinks this makes any sense? Does anyone believe Maxine Waters could take over Exxon Mobil and lower the prices you pay at the pump? Anybody? I didn't think so, but the Comment Field below awaits your input....

Look at it this way. I've been handed a trucking company to run. Fuel prices are killing me. Absolutely killing me. I don't have Senate Dining Hall financial losses yet, but I'm not making any money, and am losing plenty. There are all sorts of incentives in place for me to make it profitable. It's just not very easy. I know beyond any doubt that I can't run at a loss for much longer.

But what would happen if I had an almost unlimited trough of money to pull from? Would I still care about making good use of any resources? I don't think so.

I have a tendency to beat this kind of thing to death.
Because someone, somewhere, is still voting for politicians who can advocate government run oil companies, government monopolies in education, and government run health care without laughing. As P.J. O'Rourke said, "If you think healthcare is expensive now, just wait until it's free."
Someone, somewhere will still vote for "Small Government" Republicans who actually voted for that obscene Farm Bill.


On a related note, The Libertarian Party Of Texas state convention is in Fort Worth this weekend. The Libertarians have plenty of candidates who are clearly running for office with the clearly stated goal of shutting down all sorts of clearly unnecessary Senate Dining Halls. They are very clear about it, and will discuss it with you for hours and hours with startling clarity. Boy howdy, are they clear.

Did you ever wonder how you got to be $30,000 in debt? (If you're an American reading this, divide a $9,000,000,000,000 national debt by 300 million Americans. 30 grand is your share, so get busy. Get a second job if you have to.) Some of this staggering amount was put on your Mastercard by Big Government Democrats who clearly hesitate to shut down a buffet line that clearly misplaces one million dollars every year. An even bigger chunk of debt was spread out on your Visa, Discover, Sears, American Express, and Target cards by Small Government Republicans who were clearly lying about their identities.

The Libertarian convention is nowhere near as big as the Republican or Democrat equivalents.

This is because they're not trying to get a bigger spot at the public hog trough for their buddies or their supporters.

The Libertarians don't want to fix anything. They want to shut it down. They want to sell it to the highest bidder, and put the profits on your Visa/Amex/Discover account.

They aren't the Candidates Of Changing anything. Why change it if you can end it?

We have no vision, no 10-point plans, no contracts with America outside of what's in the constitution. We'll try to fix the roads, provide for defense, enforce contracts, play referee on the economic externalities, and then do our best to stay out of your way. We're not going to open up any Dining Halls, take over any oil companies, or turn your food into ethanol. We're not going to make you a better person. We don't want to provide much leadership at all. We believe that government's role in the game is to be the cheerleader, not the quarterback. We're all about Life, Liberty, and the reckless goal of Leaving You Alone.

Unlike the Democrats and Republicans who ran up your credit cards, Libertarians will not work hard for you. We promise.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Vanity Fair Blogopticon

Vanity Fair magazine, in addition to serving humanity by giving Bill Clinton a recent thorough muck-raking, has developed something called The Blogopticon.

The categories of blogs run on a North/South scale from news at the top, to opinion at the bottom.
On the East/West scale, they range from Earnest to Scurrilous.

Do NOT hit that link unless you have hours and hours to wander around in there.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Broadway Baptist Church Might Be Ousted ! ! !

My home church, Broadway Baptist, is in the news again. It's never going to end. My friend Gary alerted me to this jewel on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram website:

Resolution at Southern Baptist Convention seeks Fort Worth church's ouster

To my friend David M., Please make note of the word "ouster"....


A North Carolina pastor has recommended that Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth be ousted from the Southern Baptist Convention, saying it encourages homosexuality.

Ousted. There it is again. Ousted. You start using a new word regularly for the first time, and it appears everywhere. (Inside friend David M. recently did an audio/video presentation about our former pastor, Dr. Brett Younger, and his appearances in newspaper headlines and internet posts. The word "ousted" was quite popular. Click here for recent details. )

Back to the bidness at hand. Broadway Baptist Church encourages homesexuality? Like, in experimental classes? During communion? Field trips to Pier One Imports? Let's read on.

The proposed resolution, made Tuesday at the SBC’s annual meeting in Indianapolis. was referred to an executive committee which will bring back a report at the 2009 meeting in Kentucky.

For those unfamiliar with the Southern Baptist Convention, it's the baptist group that split off from the northern baptists shortly before the Civil War, primarily because the yankees didn't want southern missionaries to carry their slaves with them on mission trips. This, of course, was intolerable interference from the yankees.

Punting awkward resolutions to a committee is a time-honored technique most often used when leadership determines that somebody is making resolutions just to get his name in the paper.

Wait a minute....??? I didn't even know Broadway was in the Southern Baptist Convention....I thought we left it years ago to join the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, or some grouping like that. Isn't this like closing the barn door after the horses have run off?

The action stemmed from a controversy at Broadway over whether gay and lesbian couples could be pictured together in the church directory. In February, to get beyond the divisive issue, the congregation voted to publish a book without individual or family portraits — and with candid snapshots instead. Several gay couples had asked earlier to have their portraits appear.

I thought it was a good compromise. Broadway is going for a very big tent. And speaking of big tents, that Southern Baptist tent? It has lots and lots and lots of gays and lesbians in it. Encouraged or not, they're in there.

The Reverend Bill Sanderson of Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, N.C., declined to answer questions in a phone call from the Star-Telegram.

But Reverend Bill Sanderson of Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, N.C. didn't hesitate to speak from inside the relatively small convention tent in Indianapolis.

If you want to know more about this guy, here's his website.

Here's a video of Rev. Bill. .

Officials with Broadway could not be reached immediately to comment.

Officials? Officials? Hey, we're the real baptists. We don't need no stinkin' officials. We're all about concepts like Autonomy Of The Local Church, and Priesthood Of The Believer. (Click here if you're unfamiliar with the concept. Read what the guy says, imagine strongly disagreeing with him, and you'll know where I'm coming from....)

So I'll make an un-official comment that might work until a more qualified commenter comes along:

(Ahem....) I am deeply, deeply saddened that a sister baptist church would try to gain attention and notoriety by making a resolution to remove my church from the Southern Baptist Convention, the organization that brought us The Disney Boycott, Subjugation of Women, Bailey Smith, and the Jimmy Carter presidency.

Vetting, Defined

Ok, here's my definition of "vetting".
(Because of Barack Obama's loss of a key player on his Vice Presidential Vetting Committee, and because of a quirk in Google's page rankings, people are coming to this site WANTING ANSWERS.)

Vetting - to appraise, verify, or check for accuracy, authenticity, validity, etc.: An expert vetted the manuscript before publication. –verb (used without object) That's speaking.

The word is now used more often to determine if there's any inappropriate stuff in someone's background that would disqualify them from getting elected. Here are some examples.

George McGovern did not do enough vetting when he selected Thomas Eagleton to be his V.P. running mate in 1972. It turns out that Eagleton had sought psychiatric help for depression. Eagleton was dropped from the ticket.

Hillary Clinton claims that she's been thoroughly vetted as a result of enduring Whitewater, CattleFuturesGate, TravelGate, Vince Foster Dying For Your Sins, MonicaGate, Gennifergate, SniperGate, Moving Out Of The White House Like White Trash Leaving A Motel Six Gate, and all the ones I've forgotten.
Lord, I hope she's vetted by now. I don't see how there's room for any more scandals to be vetted in one lifetime.

In 1988, Democratic Presidential candidate Gary Hart opened himself up for intense vetting by telling reporters who had asked about rumors of extramarital affairs "Follow me around. I don't care. I'm serious. If anybody wants to put a tail on me, go ahead. They'll be very bored."
When the reporters got through vetting him, they had discovered an extramarital affair.

George W. Bush's drunk driving arrest was not discovered until late in the 2000 campaign. Many critics say he should've been vetted more closely.

Clarence Thomas was over-vetted, and shocking comments about pubic hairs on Coke cans were discovered.

This definition has been a public service of The Whited Sepulchre Outreach Ministry.
I'm sure that Comment Field Users can come up with others.

Caption This

I need a caption for this picture:

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sing Along With Saint Albert

Just when I think the world can't get any goofier....

For years, I've had a running joke with a co-worker about going to see a production of "Silence Of The Lambs - On Ice". It cracks me up to imagine Hannibal Lecter skating around an arena in his straitjacket and goalie mask during an Ice Capades production number.

I got a similar kick out of "Backdraft - The Musical", as parodied in Christopher Guest's movie "Waiting For Guffman".

The movie "The Producers" centers around an intentionally bad musical about the life of Adolph Hitler.

I love the idea of taking one art form and cramming it into another that just doesn't fit. It cracks me up every time.

But this? Can it be for real? And who will play Saint Albert, The Goracle of Music City Tennessee? Garth Brooks? Toby Keith? George Strait? Can they cast Placido Domingo as a Polar Bear? Are they going to have a real set and stage, or just use a PowerPoint?

It's a pity they can't give Pavarotti a small role as an iceberg.

Hat Tip to NickM at Counting Cats for alerting me to this opportunity.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

On Watching Danica Patrick Not Win The Bombardier Learjet 550K Yesterday

Danica Patrick did not win the Bombardier Learjet 550K yesterday.

Lord knows we wanted her to.
I took The Future Aggie to her first race at Texas Motor Speedway yesterday. She loved it as much as I thought she would, and is already planning to come home from Aggieland for the NASCAR races in October/November. I've always wanted this girl to know that she can do whatever she wants to do.
We tailgated with the good people from Roadway for a while and then went through the minefield of racing concession stands, where I bought her enough crap to fill up the latrines at Fort Pemberton.

This was an Indy style race. For the uninitiated, the best way to distinguish between the mindset of NASCAR and IndyCar racing is via Ferrell's "Talladega Nights". NASCAR grew out of moonshiners souping up their cars to outrun police pursuit. Ferrell's character "Ricky Bobby" comes out of that tradition. The cars wouldn't necessarily turn heads on the interstate if you took the decals off, and the drivers are mostly American.

IndyCar racing features "open wheel" vehicles. The tires are outside the body of the car, and these tires wouldn't fit well on your Volvo. One of these things going down the interstate would get your attention. The drivers come from all over the world. Sacha Baron Cohen's character in Talladega Nights, Jean Girard, the despicable Gay-French-AntiAmerican, is a great sendup of Indy drivers.
We got to the track in time to see Robbie Knievel jump 21 Hummers. There was something involved with Knievel contracting to jump 20 Humvees, and then increasing it to 25, but there was a strong headwind so he lowered it to 20. And the landing ramp extended over the last 3. Or something like that.
The discussions in the stands about the ever-changing number of Hummers reminded me too much of Hillary Clinton electoral math. Here's a YouTube of the jump:

Like most male forty-somethings, I was a huge fan of Knievel's father when I was a kid. It was nice to see a Knievel land in one piece.

We wanted to see Danica Patrick win it. I wanted to watch my daughter when Danica Patrick won it.
Loyalty to sports teams and athletes is a strange thing. As Jerry Seinfeld put it, because of the players being traded, drafted, bought and sold, you can no longer be loyal to a team. You're only "a fan of their laundry". That's why I was surprised at my first NASCAR race when I heard some drivers being cheered and others booed. What offense did the unpopular ones commit? Not saluting the flag? Not wearing a flag lapel pin? Forgetting the words to "Dixie"?

The way The Whited Sepulchre Duo saw it, Danica Patrick winning the Bombardier Learjet 550K would've been a bigger achievement for women than The Hildebeest winning the Democratic Party's nomination for President.

Those are strong words, aren't they? Let me explain....

Hillary was the wife of a governor and then the wife of a President. She was given a relatively "safe" senate seat to run for, in one of the most reliably Democratic states, a state in which she had never really lived.

She's achieved a lot, but only because of her other half. If her name had been Hortense Finklebaum instead of Mrs. Bill Clinton, you would've never heard of her. If she'd won the nomination, it would've been historic, but also would've required a footnote....(spouse of former president).

Contrast that with the historic potential of Danica Patrick. Like every other driver, Patrick has a massive support team and pit crew. But no one drives that car around the track but her. Name recognition counts for nothing. The fact that she's a woman doesn't get her any sympathy laps, and The League Of Women Voters doesn't protest after her losses. Her husband is relatively unknown.

Unfortunately, Danica started in 5th and finished 11th. Scott Dixon won it.
Bummer. One day, it'll happen.

Wait a minute, I hear some of you saying. Danica Patrick has already made history by winning the IndyJapan 500. Why are you acting as if no woman has ever won an Indy race?

Well, maybe I've got a NASCAR Ricky Bobby mentality.

That stuff that happens over in them foreign places like Japan? It don't count.