Sunday, September 30, 2012

Find The Racist Cell Phone Video

I'm told there is a racist video making the rounds on YouTube, but I'm having trouble pinning down exactly which one it is.

Based solely on the number of views, I think you'd have to say that the white woman in the second video comes off the dumbest. The white guy in the third video says he camped out for the iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, and now the iPhone 5 so that's some serial dumbness, although perhaps not as dumb as the OccupyWS/OccupyDC white guy in the first video, who says he doesn't even want the product he's standing in line for. I can't even understand the guy video 5, and he's speaking English in England, I think.

All the fuss is about the woman in the third video. To me, she seems to understand the terms of her cell phone plan better than any of the others. Is it racist to suggest that she is in any way inarticulate? Certainly her attire is up to standard.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Netanyahu Draws Red Line on Iran Bomb

Only a politician can take an enormous, difficult problem and boil it down to such utter stupidity that one wonders whether it is worth trying to do anything more about it. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have done just that in depicting the threat of an Iranian nuclear weapon as a cartoonish bomb in his speech at the UN yesterday.

I mean really? Is this what we've been fearing for so long? The only thing more stupid was Iran's President Ahmadinejad trumpeting his new world order. Cue Austin Powers.

Of course, allowing Iran to build nuclear weapons is something the world may have to repent for a very long time ... or an instantaneously short time.

Control of Senate Will Come Down to the Wire

Looking past the Presidential race to the battlegrounds for the Senate, the situation looks much better for the Democrats than it did a year ago when they appeared on track for an epic defeat.

With the staggered 6 year terms, only a third of the seats are up for election in 2012. That means the Democrats and Republicans each start with 44 safe seats, leaving competitive races in just 12 states. Here's the RCP poll margins:

State Republican Democrat 9/27
Florida Mack Nelson 8.8
Ohio Mandel Brown 7.5
Missouri Akin McCaskill 5.3
Wisconsin Thompson Baldwin 5.0
Virginia Allen Kaine 3.6
Connecticut McMahon Murphy 2.4
Indiana Mourdock Donnelly 2.0
Massachusetts Brown Warren 1.4
Montana Rehberg Tester -1.7
Nevada Heller Berkley -2.0
Arizona Flake Carmona -3.5
North Dakota Berg Heitkamp -5.0
Battleground average 2.0

The Democrats have a lead of only 2% in the battleground states, compared to a 3.8% lead for President Obama in a different but overlapping mix of 12 battleground states. That's an uncomfortably thin margin.

On the other hand, the Republicans have only locked down Nebraska among the 8 states that looked most vulnerable. Worse, their candidates trail badly in Ohio and Florida, which does not bode well for winning one of them in the Presidential race.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Romney Glacier Succombs to Global Warning

When last we checked in with RCP 20 days ago, Mitt Romney had pulled even in the national polls and was slowly inching up on Obama in the battleground states.

But for the last 20 days the Romney Glacier has been receding. Now, with just 40 days to go, he's given back the state of North Carolina and trails in 11 out of 12 battleground states.

Battleground States: Electoral Votes 2008 Margin 7/29
Michigan 16 16.7% 4.2% 7.7% 2.4% 8.6%
Pennsylvania 20 10.5% 5.8% 6.6% 7.7% 8.3%
Wisconsin 10 14.1% 6.0% 3.5% 1.4% 7.8%
Ohio 18 4.7% 5.0% 1.8% 0.7% 5.2%
Iowa 6 9.7% 1.3% 1.0% 0.2% 4.7%
Virginia 13 6.4% 1.2% 1.0% 0.6% 4.5%
Nevada 6 12.8% 5.3% 5.0% 3.3% 4.2%
Florida 29 2.8% 0.6% 1.0% 0.6% 3.1%
Colorado 9 9.1% 3.0% 1.0% 2.3% 2.5%
New Hampshire 4 9.7% 3.0% 3.5% 3.5% 1.0%
North Carolina 15 0.3% -0.4% -1.0% -2.0% 1.0%
Missouri 10 -0.1% -6.0% -6.3% -6.0% -7.3%
Battleground Average 156 7.2% 2.4% 2.1% 1.2% 3.6%

The last few weeks have highlighted one of President Barack Obama's strengths, foreign policy. While he has an Ambassador's death to explain, he managed to avoid a big showdown at the UN over recognition of Palestine. Mitt Romney may have the stronger position, but eleven years after 9/11 the U.S. public doesn't want to get deeply involved in Libya or Syria or draw a red line that may lead to war with Iran.

Still, we may actually have to hold the election this November. The Obama lead is only half his margin of victory in 2008. Romney only has to peel away half that lead to tie things up. So it's really a 2 point game, and if you believe the polls are being poorly refereed, Romney may actually be winning.

Conventional wisdom is that Ohio is must-win for Romney. I notice though that Romney can get the 270 electoral votes without Ohio by winning Iowa on down. The other conventional wisdom is that Florida is the Romney-stopper for Obama. But Romney could get to 270 without Florida by winning Wisconsin on down.

On the other hand, if Obama wins both Florida and Ohio and adds that to Michigan and Pennsylvania where he has believably big leads, there is no way for Romney to win.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Low Information Voters of America Unite!

SNL has seized on the latest conceit that undecided voters are low information decision makers who don't really follow politics and often lack a basic understanding of how our country's political system works.

It seems a little early to be complaining about voters who haven't yet made up their minds, when the first debate isn't scheduled until October 3 and the last debate isn't until October 22.

The true low information voters are the ones decide based on the Ds and Rs even before the candidates are selected. That's right, decided voters are the true low information voters.

Rand Paul Won't Draw the Red Line

Does the U.S. need to draw a red line that if Iran's nuclear weapons program crosses means war? Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says we do.

U.S. Senator from Kentucky Rand Paul says we don't:

The question of what you should do if you wake up one morning to find that Iran has nuclear weapons is not a hypothetical. Neither is the question of what you should threaten, knowing you could soon be called upon to make that threat good.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Master Is a Lot to Process

You should think twice before going to see The Master. "The worst part is, some great performances were wasted," was how one viewer at the sold-out Kendall Square Cinema showing described it as those of us in the neck strain seats beat it out the front side entrance after watching two hours and a quarter of excruciating madness.

Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Lancaster Dodd as a beat writer, and any resemblance to L. Ron Hubbard is no coincidence. Joaquin Phoenix plays a mentally disturbed World War II Navy veteran and drifter, a Dean Moriarty from On the Road. The movie is his story about how he falls in with Lancaster Dodd, then drifts away. The old unreliable narrator trick.

A first introduction to Scientology through an unreliably-told fictional work is dangerous. Somehow, though, I came away with a better feeling for what the American-invented cult religion is about than I had going in. But don't think this is a recruitment film.

"Auditing" is called "processing" in the film and is presented as a cross between method acting exercises and psychoanalysis. It's appeal to Hollywood actors and wealthy upper middle-class money was always a murky to me but is now clear.

Amy Adams plays Mary Sue Dodd, and whether she is Lancaster's wife or daughter troubled me through most of the movie. There is more nudity than you are used to seeing in an R-rated film, and most of it will make you cringe. Amy Ferguson steals the early part of the movie with her turn as a department store sales girl. Laura Dern as a wealthy follower and Ambyr Childers as a loyal daughter are also good.

The director, Paul Thomas Anderson, of Boogie Nights, Magnolia and There Will Be Blood renown, runs every scene so long that you are desperate for him to cut away. No darlings were killed in the cutting of this movie. He will drink your milkshake.

I can't say that I will ever want to see this movie again, but still I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Scott Brown is Three Beers Strong and Pouring

Last Night at the Green Briar Pub in Brighton. I wasn't there.

I've Lost All Respect for Mitt Romney

Say it ain't so, Mitt. Say it ain't so.

Mitt Romney paid more in federal income taxes then he had to, confirms The Boston Globe:
"The former Massachusetts governor and his wife, Ann, could have claimed more in deductions, the trustee of Romney’s blind trust said when the candidate’s 2011 tax returns were released.

But, Brad Malt acknowledged, the couple 'limited their deductions of charitable contributions to conform to the governor's statement in August, based on the January estimate of income, that he paid at least 13 percent in income taxes in each of the last 10 years.'"
Only chumps check the box to pay extra toward paying down the national debt. The last thing we need is a chump for President.

It's not too late to correct this horrendous lapse in judgment. All you need to do, Governor, is fill out and file a Form 1040X. You have until election day if you want my vote. It's the principle of the thing.

Friday, September 21, 2012

End of Summer

A little Dar Williams to get through the chilly nights.

Harvard Club to Pay $4M in Lieu of a Gratuity

The Harvard Club of Boston has been called to account on a crooked little practice, the "in lieu of a gratuity" racket.

Food and beverage bills at the clubhouses Downtown and in the Back Bay were marked up with a 17% surcharge. But the Harvard Club paid its waitstaff by the hour, and pocketed the "in lieu of a gratuity" charge for itself.

Is that dishonest? On the one hand, the waitstaff does not have to scrounge for tips. On the other hand, members paying the surcharge may think their money was going to the waitstaff, when it wasn't. The Harvard Club does have a well-known no-tipping policy, which it did not extend to itself.

The racket, of course, is that it would be perfectly permissible for the Harvard Club to mark up the prices on its menu by 17% and keep the entire billed amount for itself. Imposing the "in lieu of a gratuity" fee is simply a marketing gimmick. It works, like many perfectly legal marketing gimmicks, because it creates a false impression.

What exactly is that false impression? Well, in a society where patrons are expected to tip waitstaff, it creates the impression that they have been tipped. But are the waitstaff harmed or is it just the patron who has been fleeced? Presumably you would learn of this practice fairly early in your tenure at the Harvard Club, in the first day training if not in the job interview. If you show up for work the second day, haven't you accepted the practice? Presumably, the Harvard Club has to pay its waitstaff more per hour than if they could expect to also get tips.

Times are apparently tough at the Harvard Club, as the Boston Globe reports it is paying for the $4 million settlement it has reached with the waitstaffs' class action lawyer in part by selling one of its buildings at the clubhouse on Commonwealth Avenue.

If the lawyer gets the customary 33% contingency fee, that's quite a tip. $1.3 million.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sarah Chayes on the Innocence of Sam Bacile

An op-ed by Sarah Chayes in the Los Angeles Times asks the question,
"Does Innocence of Muslims meet the free-speech test?"
Her answer has generated quite a bit of controversy:
"Innocence of Muslims, the film whose video trailer indirectly led to the death of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens among others, is not, arguably, free speech protected under the U.S. Constitution and the values it enshrines."
I happen to know Sarah Chayes and her perspective is that of an American who has for the last decade been living in and traveling around Afghanistan. While Sam Bacile does the free speaking, people like Sarah Chayes do the dying. Our soldiers, aid workers, diplomats, allies, and untold numbers of civilians also do the dying.

Basically, her argument comes down to whether a nation at war with radical Islamic terrorists should be providing the radicals with propaganda weapons:
"In Afghanistan, and in all of the Arab nations in transition, an extremist fringe is brawling for power with a more pluralistic majority. Radicals pounce on any pretext to play on religious feeling. I could pick out the signs of manipulation in Afghanistan — riots that started on university campuses where radicalized Pakistani students abound, simultaneous outbreaks in far-flung places, the sudden appearance of weapons. By providing extremists in Libya and elsewhere such an opportunity, the makers of Innocence of Muslims were playing into their hands."
Sarah teased that out a little further in the comment section of her op-ed:
"A careful examination of the details surrounding the production and promotion of this film -- the duping of cast and crew, the false claim to an Israeli identity on the part of a producer, the re-promotion just prior to 9/11 connected with inflammatory anti-Muslim pastor Terry Jones -- all suggest a deliberate 'intent' to provoke 'imminent' violence."
That raises more questions. How do we know that Sam Bacile is on our side and not on their side? And if we don't know, shouldn't we find out? Have we ruled out his, or someone else connected to the movie or trailer, being an agent provocateur for Al Qaeda?

I hope we haven't just seen the equivalent of Tokyo Rose broadcasting from L.A. during World War II.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

CNN Books a Truther for Rosh Hashanah

Last night Piers Morgan spent his entire CNN show on an interview with 9/11 truther Jesse Ventura.

It started innocently enough, with Jesse describing the tactic of cut and run:
VENTURA: Well, absolutely. When our country's attacked in any way, shape or form, we need to pull together, we need to come together, not separate at that point. I mean, you want my -- what I would do over there? I would do what the pinnacle of the Republican Party, the hero, whatever, modern day Ronald Reagan did.

Do you recall when our -- back in the '80s when the barracks in Lebanon was hit --


VENTURA: -- then over 200 Marines were killed, did Ronald Reagan go to war? No, he got us the hell out of there. And that's where I stand on this. If these people don't want us over there, let's close our embassies, I stand with Ron Paul, let's get rid of foreign aid altogether. Because as Ron Paul put it, the definition of foreign aid, that's taking from America's poor and giving it to another country's rich.
Then they got into the subject of America being the world's sole remaining superpower:
MORGAN: America remains a superpower. And America --

VENTURA: Sure we are.

MORGAN: And all superpowers, I believe, have a responsibility to other countries around the world. Now it may --

VENTURA: I don't.

MORGAN: Really?


MORGAN: You don't think Americans have any involvement in any country in the world?

VENTURA: Sure we can have involvement if they ask us. Since when should we be the world's policeman? Why do we have military bases in 160-something countries? We have no -- no foreign country has a base here. Imagine if Hugo Chavez decided to buy 1,000 acres of land by Palm Springs and move the Venezuelan military in there?

What do you think our reaction would be to that? Yet we have multiple bases in Korea, multiple bases in Japan, multiple bases in Germany. And Piers, last time I checked, those wars were over 60 years ago. Why are we still there?
Then the subject turned to President George W. Bush:
MORGAN: However many gaffes Mitt Romney may be making --


MORGAN: -- he is a very experienced, successful businessman. Could he not do a better job?

VENTURA: Well, first of all, they posed the question, are you better off today than you were four years ago? I would say, yes. George Bush and Dick Cheney are gone. So no matter what (APPLAUSE) we're better off today than we were four years ago.
Then Jesse floats the idea the CIA may be behind the latest uprisings in the Midle East:
MORGAN: What we're all agreed on is that the death of Osama bin Laden was a good thing. But be honest, is America any safer now than it was when he was killed? Or from all we're seeing now in the Middle East, all the uprisings, all the kind of reverse Arab Spring, if you like, are you concerned that it may be a hornet nest getting out of control?

VENTURA: No, because I think a lot of times these uprisings are orchestrated, I believe. I believe in the works of Colonel L. Fletcher Prouty, when he said nothing just happens, everything is planned. I truly believe that.

So these uprisings that are happening right now, we don't know really who is behind them. They could be our own CIA.

MORGAN: Did we know --

VENTURA: -- helping to do it. Who knows.
That should have been the signal to wrap things up but Piers kept Jesse going:
MORGAN: I think that it's clear one of the main reasons America went into Afghanistan was to try and get al Qaeda dismantled, the organization which committed the 9/11 attack.

VENTURA: Really?
And going and going:
MORGAN: What would you have done on September 12th, 2001? What would you have done if you'd been president?

VENTURA: What would I have done? I would have done a legitimate investigation to find out what exactly happened on 9/11. How did they know who did this so quickly like they did Lee Harvey Oswald, how quick they knew Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy?

MORGAN: Because the people who did it were identified and we knew who they were.

VENTURA: Why couldn't we have stopped them beforehand if they were identified and we knew who they were.

MORGAN: It was a failure of intelligence.

VENTURA: No it wasn't. We knew before. Condoleezza Rice's memo on August 6th when it stated right in the memo, bin Laden to steal planes and run them into buildings. And more stuff is coming out now also, how much the Bush administration ignored the intelligence. It was almost like they ignored it because they wanted it to happen.

MORGAN: Oh, come on, Jesse.

VENTURA: No, not, oh come off it. Wait a minute --

MORGAN: No, no, no --

VENTURA: Every war starts with a false flag operation.
And then Jesse went after Piers Morgan's beloved BBC:
MORGAN: You cannot say that any member of the Bush administration knew it was going to happen and wanted it to happen. It's a ridiculous thing to say.

VENTURA: Ridiculous. OK. Let's talk about your BBC. I have a tape of a BBC reporter broadcasting directly back to England talking about a third building has collapsed, World Trade Center Building Seven, talks for seven minutes. All the while she's talking, World Trade Center Building Seven is still standing right behind her. It didn't fall for another half hour. Yet they were doing a pre- broadcast back to England --


VENTURA: Yes, it's true. That this building fell and it hadn't fallen yet.

MORGAN: If you're trying to make out the British Broadcasting Company, one of the most respected news organizations in the world, was inventing huge buildings falling over.

VENTURA: They did.
That was finally enough for Piers to call for a commercial break, but Jesse pressed on with the truther conspiracy theory:
MORGAN: Back with Jesse Ventura live along with our studio audience. We left a heated debate about various theories you have about 9/11 and so forth. Let's move on --

VENTURA: And the government only has a theory.

MORGAN: Right. Well, the government has factual --

VENTURA: Theirs is a theory. Their theory is 19 Islamic radicals, armed with box cutters, defeated our multi-billion dollar air defense system, all while conspiring with a bearded guy in a cave in Afghanistan.

MORGAN: That is exactly what happened.

VENTURA: That's their theory.
The interview finally came around to Iran:
MORGAN: Let's move on. Let's move on to Iran and Israel. If you were the American President, with all the jungle drums beating now about Iran, would you take any military action?

VENTURA: Well, first, let me state that Iran has to do this. Because if you notice, the United States doesn't mess with any country that's got nuclear capabilities. They only mess with countries that don't. So all countries that don't have it strive to get it, because it's a safety mechanism to have it. So, of course, Iran's going to try to get the stuff.

MORGAN: Should they be allowed to have it?

VENTURA: Should they be allowed to? I don't know.

MORGAN: Yes or no.

VENTURA: I don't know.
That finally got Piers' dander up:
MORGAN: You know about everything that happened before 9/11. But right now when you have Iran potentially nuking itself up, you don't have an opinion.

VENTURA: Well, let's leave that up to the nuclear inspectors that go in there. They will tell us whether they're nuking it up before you decide to bomb them.
So there you have it, courtesy of CNN. The recent killing of our Ambassador in Libya was a false flag operation by our CIA, designed to be used a pretext for war with Iran.

Jesse Ventura says he may run for President in 2016 if he can get on the ballot in all 50 states and is promised a seat at the debates. If that is allowed to happen, he just might win. I can see the bumper stickers now, "Ventura for Truth 2016."

Go On and The New Normal Are Cancelled In ...

... 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. NBC's Tuesday night lineup is off to a poor start.

Matthew Perry of Friends stars in the new NBC series Go On. Think Frasier goes to group. The New Normal is NBC's humorless ripoff of ABC's Modern Family.

NBC may also have messed up Parenthood by adding Ray Romano to the cast. And The Voice is just another formula reality show.

On the other hand, aside from Hart of Dixie on The CW, the other networks have nothing.

Monday, September 17, 2012

And I Thought Mitt Romney Was in the 47%

Mitt Romney has been "caught" on tape explaining the obvious point that people who don't pay taxes have little reason to vote Republican.
"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right -- there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this President no matter what.

That 10 million.

The President starts off with 48, 49 ... the President starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax, 47% of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. He'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. That's what they sell every 4 years.

So my job is not to worry about these people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5% to 10% in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or another on emotion, whether they like the guy or not."
But wait, hasn't Harry Reid been claiming that Mitt Romney paid zero in federal income taxes? I guess Mitt Romney is running against his own interests.

The phrase I bolded "that ten million" is clear enough in the video Mother Jones posted, but is transcribed by them as "And I mean". It looks like we may have someone splicing and dubbing clips again. Oh, Sam?

Ten million is the margin by which Barack Obama beat John McCain in 2008. I'm curious what Mitt Romney might have gone on to say about that 10 million. Mother Jones did provide this clip:

I think that Mitt Romney misjudges the mentality process of the independent, swing voter. In terms of self-vindicating the previous decision in the ballot box, the swing voter only has to feel that the official they voted for did better than the other choice on the ballot would have done. In 2008, it was Barack Obama versus John McCain, In 2012, it's Barack Obama versus Mitt Romney.

Round Up the Unusual Suspect

Sam Bacile's new movie is getting sour reviews:
"misguided, abuses the universal right of free speech" - The Embassy of the United States in Cairo

"disgusting and reprehensible" - Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State

"reprehensible and disgusting" - Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary

"truly abhorrent" - Denis McDonough, U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser

"heinous and offensive, hateful" - Susan Rice. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

"cruel and disgusting" - Barack Obama, President of the U.S.
That's not to mention street riots in 33 countries. And these reviews are just for the YouTube trailer, God only knows how bad the reviews for the movie itself will be.

It turns out, though, that Sam Bacile is no ordinary Hollywoood hack performing the usual ritual hatchet job on religious sensibilities. Instead, it seems Sam Bacile is one of a dozen aliases for an identify thief named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula who was convicted in 2010 of siphoning $794,701 from phony credit cards and bank accounts he opened in other people's names.

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula being taken in for questioning. It's said he went in voluntarily, not under arrest, but when you're still on probation for bank fraud, that may be a distinction without a difference.

Some have compared this image to The Invisible Man.

I suggest it be compared to the classic "Round Up the Usual Suspects" scene in Casablanca. In this case, the suspect is rather unusual.

Sam Bacile is said to have written the script in jail and began filming in summer 2011 a few weeks after being released from a halfway house. He recruited a film crew and cast on the false premise they would be acting in a low budget film to be called Desert Warrior. He then redubbed the role of Master George to be the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. Talk about a director's cut.

The cast and crew released this statement:
"The entire cast and crew are extremely upset and feel taken advantage of by the producer. We are 100% not behind this film and were grossly misled about its intent and purpose. We are shocked by the drastic re-writes of the script and lies that were told to all involved. We are deeply saddened by the tragedies that have occurred."
Good luck getting the same cast and crew back for the sequel.

In June, the movie opened in Los Angeles under the title Innocence of Bin Laden. The L.A. Times reports that only 10 people showed up for the screening at The Vine Theater on Hollywood Boulevard.

What kind of producer makes a movie designed to open and close on one night? That brings to mind the great Mel Brooks comedy The Producers where Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder plot to rip off their investors by selling shares in a Broadway play several times over and with the intention of producing a flop so that there are no profits to give away their deception.

If Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is the Zero Mostel of this picture, then a man named Joseph Nasralla Abdelmasih may be it's Gene Wilder. His organization, Media for Christ, was reportedly used to obtain film permits and may have provided some of the financing. A porn film maker, Alan Roberts, was hired to direct. I imagine the auditions for Master George/Prophet Muhammad went something like this:

"It's a bang, it's a boom, it's a bang, bang, boom, boom, bang."

Ironically, the violent riots by Muslims around the world pretty much prove the point that the movie set out to make. By its own terms then, the movie must be judged a success.

But this is a movie fraud, not a movie. The trailer is not even especially effective, with a tone that comes across not so much as anti-Islamic but as a parody of anti-Islamic messages. Nothing to get excited about. But that may have been lost when it was translated to Arabic. I wonder, how many of the protesters have even seen a clip?

The U.S. Justice Department now has the unhappy task of sorting out whether this film, which could have been made legally in the U.S., was illegal for Sam Bacile to make in the way that he did due to probation conditions forbidding use of aliases or the internet. Also, I would think cast members may be in court soon asking for the clips to be taken off the internet and to suppress further release of the film as a fraudulent misuse of their images.

By the way, Sam Bacile knew his mark. The characters in the "original" script used to sign on the actors were named George, Condalisa, and Hillary. You sign up to skewer George W. Bush, you end up marked for death by angry jihadists.

Update: Joseph Nassralla says he is no Gene Wilder in this production:
"Nakoula needed a place to film. So I let him use my facility – that is all I did, and is the full extent of my involvement with this project. ... I later discovered that Nakoula, using the name Sam Bacile, had gone to LA Films as producer of Desert Warrior, and used the name of my organization, Media for Christ, to obtain the permit he needed. He did so without my knowledge or permission. ... Nakoula altered the film without anyone’s knowledge, changing its entire focus and dubbing in new dialogue. He edited it. The final product, "Innocence of Muslims," bore no resemblance to the film I thought he was making, or the film the actors thought they were creating. We were shocked."
Update 9/25/2012: added Barack Obama's review delivered at the UN.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It's 11 Years After 9/11

To put that in perspective:

1952 was 11 years after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
1974 was 11 years after the assassination of President Kennedy.
1979 was 11 years after the Tet Offensive.
1985 was 11 years after the resignation of President Nixon.
2000 was 11 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

I am working at home today. And eleven years ago I was working at home when my boss called to tell me that the World Trade Center had been hit by an airplane.

Today CNN reports that protesters in Egypt stormed the grounds of the U.S. Embassy, tore down and ripped to shreds the U.S. flag, and ran up an Islamic black flag in its place.

The provocation is said to be a new film that portrays Islam negatively:
The U.S. Embassy said in a statement that it "condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions."

"Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy," the statement said. "We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others."
It would be easier to have sympathy for Muslin "hurt feelings" if these protesters hadn't picked this particular day or the particular symbol of a U.S. flag to express their rage. There's a true abuse of the universal right of free speech.

A U.S. Consulate in Libya has also been attacked, with one American official reported dead. The violent protests in Egypt and Libya are said in some reports to be in response to a YouTube video produced by Coptic Christian refugees from Egypt.

Here is the full statement that was released by the U.S. embassy in Egypt:
U.S. Embassy Condemns Religious Incitement
September 11, 2012

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others
Coptic Christians have been targeted in Egypt, both during and after the Arab Spring, with scores reported killed. Misguided?

Update: There is some confusion whether the objectionable YouTube movie may be one by the Florida pastor involved in the Koran-burning controversy, by Coptic Christians from Egypt, by Israeli citizens, or by some American. But all that is just the question of pretext, the real reason for these attacks on U.S. diplomats was the 9/11 anniversary. The death toll in Libya is now at 4 Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador. President Obama says "Justice will be done." Good.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

We're Back to Jewish Girls Offering to Service the Democrat in the White House

That's right, "I’ll give you service in secret"

If the voice is familiar, but the face isn't, it's because both belong to Leah Kauffman. She voiced the original 2007 Obama Girl played by Amber Lee Ettinger, whose Milli Vanilli lip-sync is now being fronted by anti-Obama SuperPac ads.

Leah wants you to know that the new song "comes from a place of sincerity." Or maybe she just wants Barack Obama to know. She's just as happy if you have a crush on Mitt.

Of course, these days lots of other people are crushing on Barack Obama.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

More People Like Barack Obama, But Are Talking about Mitt Romney on Facebook

Info Barack Obama Mitt Romney
Born August 4, 1961 March 12, 1947
Gender Male Male
Relationship status Married to Michelle Obama Married to Ann Romney
Education Grad School:
Harvard '91 Law

Columbia '83 Political Science, with a concentration in International Relations
Occidental '83
Grad Schools:
Harvard Business School '75
Harvard Law School '75

Brigham Young University '71
Interests and activities Basketball
spending time w/ kids
Spending time with family - especially my grandchildren
horseback riding with my wife
watching movies.
Favorite books Song of Solomon (Toni Morrison)
Moby Dick
Shakespeare's Tragedies
Parting the Waters
Gilead (Robinson)
Self-Reliance (Emerson)
The Bible
Lincoln's Collected Writings
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Adventures of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
Battlefield Earth by Ron Hubbard
Favorite music Miles Davis
John Coltrane
Bob Dylan
Stevie Wonder
Johann Sebastian Bach (cello suites)
The Fugees
Roy Orbison
The Beatles
The Eagles
Clint Black
Randy Travis
Johnny Cash
Favorite movies Casablanca
Godfather I & II
Lawrence of Arabia
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?
Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark
Star Wars
Henry V
Favorite TV shows Sportscenter Seinfeld, Modern Family, Friday Night Lights, Justified, 30 Rock, American Idol
Favorite quote "The Arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." (MLK) “The pursuit of the difficult makes men strong” – something my father, George Romney, always used to quote.
Religious views Christian  
Poltiical views   Conservative
Followers on Twitter 19,488,859 1,071,736
Likes on Facebook 28,413,172 6,507,113
Talking about this 3,131,316 3,332,939

You got to like the way Mitt Romney goes after George Clooney and Alec Baldwin by liking their movies and TV shows. But Modern Family? Battlefield Earth?

And Barack Obama has no interest in golf?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Barack Obama: It Could Have Been Worse

Eastwooding Last Week, Woodwarding This Week

Forward has run into Woodward. That's Bob Woodward, the journalist of Watergate fame, and his new book The Price of Politics. A "portrait of dysfunction" is how The New York Times describes the new book's portrayal of President Obama's dealings with Congress.

The money quote may be from businessman Ivan Seidenberg, reportedly to Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett:
"With all due respect, we will be here when you're gone."
Seidenberg considered himself a progressive independent. The Obama people apparently dismissed him as just another one percenter.

Romney Glacier Advances Toward November

Mitt Romney tied it up in the Real Clear Politics poll average, 46.7% to 46.7%, but still trails in 10 out of 12 battleground states.

However, Romney does have the momentum with Obama's lead in the battleground dropping over the last 40 days from 2.4% to 2.1% to 1.2%. At this rate I would project Mitt Romney will win Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Missouri in the battleground, which would give him a 272 to 266 electoral victory.

Battleground States: Electoral Votes 2008 Margin 7/29
Pennsylvania 20 10.5% 5.8% 6.6% 7.7%
New Hampshire 4 9.7% 3.0% 3.5% 3.5%
Nevada 6 12.8% 5.3% 5.0% 3.3%
Michigan 16 16.7% 4.2% 7.7% 2.4%
Colorado 9 9.1% 3.0% 1.0% 2.3%
Wisconsin 10 14.1% 6.0% 3.5% 1.4%
Ohio 18 4.7% 5.0% 1.8% 0.7%
Virginia 13 6.4% 1.2% 1.0% 0.6%
Florida 29 2.8% 0.6% 1.0% 0.6%
Iowa 6 9.7% 1.3% 1.0% 0.2%
North Carolina 15 0.3% -0.4% -1.0% -2.0%
Missouri 10 -0.1% -6.0% -6.3% -6.0%
Battleground Average 156 7.2% 2.4% 2.1% 1.2%

It's a slow momentum, inching along at the speed of an advancing glacier, but Romney support has moved fast enough in the last 40 days to cover the necessary ground in the remaining 60 days, even if Obama support gets a little post-convention bounce.

Can the Obama campaign heat up its voter base enough to stop Romney's glacier-like advance? Barack Obama's legendary coolness may be a problem. He's going to have to light a fire in a way he just didn't in his Thursday night convention speech.

The Thursday night speeches focused on the jobs saved in the 2009 auto industry bailout. That's a play for the battleground states of Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan. But I imagine some of the 780,000 Americans now employed in the auto industry don't think they owe the President their jobs. Worse for President Obama, some of the 315,000 workers who lost their jobs in the crisis may not feel enough was done to help them. Focusing on the "success" of the auto bailout just rubs that in.

Palestine still waits for recognition of its statehood with its new ally the Muslim Brotherhood Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi when the UN General Assembly convenes in New York on September 18. That's perhaps a potential triumph but is more probably a diplomatic disaster in waiting.

The scheduled debates on October 3, 11, 16, and 22 are clustered inside just 3 weeks. One will be a town hall hosted by CNN's Candy Crowley, and I can tell you right now that will be a disaster for President Obama. The VP candidate debate will be a disaster for Vice President Joe Biden. It's hard to see how the Obama campaign can do better than a split decision.

And then it's November 6, election day, just 60 days away.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Some Part of America Still Pines for Bill Clinton

The New York Times counts 160 times that Bill Clinton's speech to the DNC convention Wednesday night was interrupted by cheers, laughter, chuckles, and applause.

The delegates will be hard-pressed to give President Obama's speech tonight the same heartfelt ovation. Where Barack Obama is cool, Bill Clinton is warm, and pining for the good old days under Bill Clinton could be a problem for Obama's reelection.

In true Clinton style the message is supportive but the subtext is not. When Bill Clinton refused to resign in 1998 in the face of the Lewinsky scandal, he sent a subtextual message that continuing his debilitated presidency was better than elevating Al Gore to the presidency. That created a big head wind for Al Gore's run in 2000.

Just what is the subtextual message in 2012? Here is the heart of Bill Clinton's speech:
"President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. Listen to me, now. No president — no president, not me, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years.

Now he has laid the foundation for a new, modern, successful economy of shared prosperity. And if you will renew the president’s contract, you will feel it. You will feel it.

Folks, whether the American people believe what I just said or not may be the whole election."
But what if you don't believe it? What if you believe Bill Clinton would have repaired the damage faster? What if you believe Hillary Clinton could have been faster? That message is in there too.

The next section of Bill Clinton's speech also rings simultaneously true and hollow:
"President Obama’s approach embodies the values, the ideas and the direction America has to take to build the 21st-century version of the American Dream: a nation of shared opportunities, shared responsibilities, shared prosperity, a shared sense of community."
That's the original promise of hope and change. It's hard to say exactly when America began to give up on that. Maybe it was when Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid refused to open the legislative process as candidate Barack Obama had promised. Maybe it was when they locked Senator Olympia Snowe, the moderate Republican from Maine, out of the Obamacare negotiations. Maybe the trillions in debt mortgaged, perhaps necessarily, on America's future finally weighed too heavy on the consciousness.

Update: The New York Times counts President Obama's speech being interrupted 128 times.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Labor Day 2012 Cattle Parade

Labor Day weekend in my family is the traditional fall roundup when my father gets up the herd to vaccinate his calves. The family joke growing up was that Labor Day was a day of labor. I flew back to Southwest Iowa this year for the festivities.

Monday, September 3, 2012

This Seat Is Not Yet Taken

The President's campaign team seems to think that some seats are already taken. I hate to remind them, the President's chair can only be taken for 4 years at a time. It's the people's seat.

But here's another chair that is available. Sit in it a little while and you might learn something. Your challenger might learn something from sitting in it too.