Friday, January 30, 2015

What?!? No Bacon?

If you think America's politicians and academics bend over backwards to be politically correct, check out what our friends across the pond have to put up with.

Oxford University Press bans use of pig, sausage or pork-related words to avoid offending Muslims
The Oxford University Press has warned its writers not to mention pigs, sausages or pork-related words in children's books, in an apparent bid to avoid offending Jews and Muslims.
I don't think they're really all that worried about offending Jews. That's just for their cover story.
The existence of the publisher's guidelines emerged after a radio discussion on free speech in the wake of the Paris attacks.

Speaking on Radio 4's Today programme, presenter Jim Naughtie said: "I've got a letter here that was sent out by OUP (Oxford University Press) to an author doing something for young people.

"Among the things prohibited in the text that was commissioned by OUP was the following: Pigs plus sausages, or anything else which could be perceived as pork.

"Now, if a respectable publisher, tied to an academic institution, is saying you've got to write a book in which you cannot mention pigs because some people might be offended, it’s just ludicrous. It is just a joke."
It's more than just a joke. It is spineless kowtowing before the alter of political correctness. It is gutless pandering to a culture that, no matter how low we bow, demands more and more concessions - a culture that won't be satisfied until every infidel is converted or dead.

In protest of the PC mindset, here's a very non-PC joke.
Two Arab terrorists are in a locker room taking a shower after their bomb making class, when one notices the other has a huge cork stuck in his ass.

"If you do not mind me saying," said the second, "that cork looks very uncomfortable. Why do you not take it out?"

"I regret I cannot", lamented the first terrorist. "It is permanently stuck in my ass"

"I do not understand," said the other.

The first terrorist says, "I was walking along the beach and I tripped over an oil lamp. There was a puff of smoke, and then a huge old man in American flag attire with a white beard and top hat came boiling out. He said, "I am Uncle Sam, the Genie. I can grant you one wish."

I said, "No shit..."

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Some Beach Some Where

If all has gone as planned, we are in the process of traveling to a remote island off the coast of Belize for a little R&R.

"A little R&R" will hopefully consist of a little fishing, a little diving, a little sailing, and a whole lot of laying around recovering from the stress of being retired.

It's a small resort island - maximum occupancy is ten people. We're going with four other couples, all friends, so a good time should be had by all.

Internet connection might be a little iffy, but I've got some posts prescheduled, so if it wasn't for this bragging status report you shouldn't even know I'm gone.

Return date is Tues. Feb. 6. Don't let obama do anything too stupid while I'm gone...


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

So What Else Is New?

This is a somewhat rambling, stream of consciousness post, but please bear with me. There is a thread running through it that connects the dots (more or less...).

Our crackerjack mainstream media is doing its usual bang-up job of keeping the nation informed on significant stories that will have a major impact on our lives. Some examples:

Last week a story was quietly leaked revealing that despite the best efforts of racist Attorney General Eric Holder and raciist President barack hussein obama, no federal charges will be filed against former Ferguson, MO. police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of (alleged) 'gentle giant' Michael Brown.

In contrast to the riots that followed a similar decision by local authorities to not charge Wilson, there was little reaction from the professional victim SJW community.

No doubt this was due to the latest 'Storm of the Century' that has paralyzed much of the Northeast.

Oh, wait...
It’s official: Winter Storm Juno is a total dud.

Despite countless warnings from the National Weather Service (and non-stop coverage by network and cable news channels) and nearly every form of mass transit being shut down Monday night, the Blizzard of 2015 was anything but.

However, never let it be said that New Yorkers let an opportunity to indulge in booze and sex go to waste.
Faced with predictions of a snow-pocalypse, New Yorkers partied like there was no tomorrow, weathering the storm with booze-laden bar trips and snow-inspired hookups.

Fashion website Lyst said customers were clamoring for pric​e​y unmentionables just before the snowfall — with hits for Agent Provocateur lingerie and other sexy under-things increasing by more than 500 percent between the weekend and Monday.

Meanwhile the Z Deli in Hell’s Kitchen sold far more condoms than usual to snowbound city folk planning to get lucky.

Several people even took to Craigslist in hopes of hooking up with a blizzard snuggle buddy.
Now please excuse me. I have to go wade through a bunch of stories about how the Oscars are racist, not to mention watching barry be interviewed by YouTube morons.
President Obama was asked about his ‘first wife’ in a PR-disaster interview on Thursday after picking three of the most popular YouTube content creators to interview him.

GloZell Green, a popular YouTube fixture known for her extreme acts like eating a ladle full of cinnamon, offered the president three samples of her trademark green lipstick as gifts for his daughters – and for the woman she called Obama’s ‘first wife.’

Another YouTube star, 19-year-old Bethany Mota, asked the leader of the free world, ‘If you had any super power, what would it be?’
This is the creature named GloZell that obama spent time being interviewed by.
 And this is the guy who insists he is too busy to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?

Which one would you prefer to be the leader of your country?

To recap:
• Clashes between Israelis and Palestinians are on the rise.

• Vast regions of Iraq and Syria are under control of Islamic extremists bent on establishing a retrograde caliphate.

• The death of King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia could cause ripples in the traditionally stable nation regarded as the heart and pocketbook of the Sunni Arab world.

• The capital of Yemen is under control of supposedly Iran-backed Shiite rebels while Iran itself – perhaps the biggest supporter of global terrorism – is widely believed to be mere months away from completing its first nuclear bomb.

These are, to paraphrase Michael Douglas in The American President, serious problems that need serious people to solve them.

And what is the actual American president doing? Sitting down for an “interview” with a comedian best known for wearing green lipstick.

When he’s not fielding softball questions from fawning B-list celebrities and pushing his redistributionist domestic policies, he’s busy snubbing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the head of America’s most steadfast ally in the Middle East. The White House said this week that Obama does not plan to meet with Netanyahu when the Israeli leader is in Washington on March 3 to address Congress.

Congress is weighing legislation to impose new sanctions on Iran if the administration’s flaccid negotiations fail to keep the rogue state from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

President Obama has said he’d veto any harsh sanctions, lest they derail his as-yet-unproductive attempts at diplomacy.

It’s beyond disappointing to see the commander-in-chief bending over backward to appease and mollify Tehran while giving the brush-off to the head of the region’s only democracy – the very democracy Iranian hardliners have, on more than one occasion, vowed to destroy.

And, by the way, it wasn’t even the White House who invited Netanyahu to the United States. It was House Speaker John Boehner. Hats off to him. Somebody should be reaching out to Israel, and it’s too bad it wasn’t our chief executive.

It’s as if the Obama administration is living in the comic-book Bizzaro World when it comes to foreign policy. Everything is backward. Friends are treated like enemies, enemies are treated like friends, and our president seems to put the interests of our adversaries ahead of our own.
The promised thread that connects the dots?

The failure of the mainstream media to impartially report the facts on issues that significantly impact our lives.

So what else is new?


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Good News For The Gals

If I had written this article I would have phrased it a little more diplomatically, but in any event it should make all you women out there feel better about yourselves.

Fat butts, big thighs in women make smarter kids
Women with fat butts and thighs make more intelligent children because what some women might consider to be a stubborn problem has actually a very profound reason – it makes more intelligent children. New research into the reason behind the fat in women, especially a woman’s behind and thighs, has found that the development of babies’ brains relies on the fat supply coming directly from a mother’s thighs and bottoms.

... Dr. William Lassek provides the following explanation:

“You need lots of fat to make a nervous system and the fats in these areas [buttocks and thigh] are also enriched in DHA [docosahexaenoic acid] which is a particularly important component in the human brain."
If that's true, then Kim Kardashian's kids are going to be friggin' geniuses.


It also offers an explanation as to why some men prefer larger women.
... the quantity of such fat supplies may directly affect a child’s intelligence and chances of survival — which could also provide a clue as to why some men are evolutionarily hardwired to prefer curvier women.

(Professor Will Lassek of the University of Pittsburg says) "It looks as if women have evolved to accumulate these fats and hold on to them — until a baby arrives.”

Professor Lassek told the UK’s Sunday Times it has always been a “complete mystery” why women have so much fat. “Mammals’ and primates’ bodies typically have about 5-10 per cent of fat but in human women that rises to 30 per cent on average,” he said.

“This is similar to the levels seen in bears going into hibernation or whales living in cold Arctic seas..."
Gee, being compared to bears or whales should do wonders for a gal's self-esteem.

However, Professor Lassek isn't alone.
David Bainbridge, a reproductive biologist at Cambridge University and author of the upcoming book Curvology: The Origins and Power of Female Body Shape, said there was evidence that women with larger thighs had higher levels of brain-building breastmilk lipids.

“There is even evidence that they and their children are more intelligent as a result,” he said, adding that such factors had affected the evolution of men, hardwiring them to prefer women with curvier figures because their stronger, brighter children would be more likely to survive.
But not to worry, ladies, if you aren't a Kim Kardashian look-alike. Many of us men prefer brains and personality over an oversized derriere.
As to why all women haven’t therefore evolved to look like Kim Kardashian, Dr Bainbridge suggested that although men may prefer curvier women, they may also choose other factors such as intelligence or personality.
Like most men, I ask myself "Who would I prefer to be the mother of my children: A, or B?"

A.


B.
Women engineering students from the University of Maryland jump for joy as they celebrate graduation!
The answer is obvious.

B ... many, many, B's...

Monday, January 26, 2015

FOD 2015.01.26

I am beyond tired of barack hussein obama and his long list of failures. (For you masochists out there, here's an A-to-Z list, and here's an analysis of why there are so many).

That clown can't even use Twitter right.
Another Twitter embarrassment has been added to the political record, as US President Barack Obama followed the wrong David Cameron Twitter account.

Last month Obama expressed his “brotherly” love for (British Prime Minister) Cameron when he said: “He’s one of my closest and most trusted partners in the world.” They both see the world “in the same way,” Obama added.

...however, Obama overlooked Cameron’s @David_Cameron account in favor of the unconnected @DavidCameron handle.

The owner of @DavidCameron account lives in Oregon and tweets about Star Trek...
Sure sounds like Cameron is one of barry's "closest and most trusted partners in the world."

What a maroon...


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Funnies 2015.01.25

Our kids have returned to college after the Christmas break.

In spite of everything, I miss them...


If parenthood was going to be easy, it never would have started with something called labor.

Shouting to make your children obey is like using the horn to steer your car, and you get about the same results.

You know your children are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and refuse to tell you where they're going.

Parenting is mostly just informing kids how many more minutes they have of something.

Parents spend the first twelve months of their children’s lives teaching them to walk and talk, and the next twelve years telling them to sit down and shut up.

Parents: People who bear infants, bore teenagers, and board newlyweds.

There are three ways to get something done: Do it yourself, hire someone to do it, or forbid your children to do it.





This parent has it figured out!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Us Vs. Them

I despise racial politics. I firmly believe in Martin Luther King's dream.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
Sadly, that dream is becoming more and more unlikely.
Today the idea of not being judged by the color of one’s skin but being judged by the content of one’s character is as farcical as the idea of unicorns. Judging based on color of skin is exactly the barometer race-mongers and racialists measure with today; content of character be damned.

... Obama would never have been elected if he were white. The color of his skin has been, and continues to be, his trump card that forgives his most egregious acts as an elected official; and the color of his skin certainly forgives his transpicuous shortcomings on a personal level. It is the color of his skin that (in large part) has protected him (thus far) from impeachment. I defy one of the voices who have, with feigned solemnity, uttered Dr. King’s now famous words to argue they would stand passionately silent if Obama were a white president.

Content of character is waived when talking about Trayvon Martin. Content of character is waived when speaking of personal responsibility as it pertains to blacks. Content of character is waived when it comes to Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the New Black Panther Party et al.
It is worth noting that the above was penned not by a Grand Dragon of the KKK, or even a Tea Party member. Rather, it was a black commentator who dared to call a spade a spade (okay, that was a bad pun, but with no racial animus intended).

It is also worth noting that there are disturbing facts to back up the common perception that democrats are becoming the party of choice for most people of color, while white voters are turning to the republicans. Policy differences aside, it augers ill to see our two major parties splitting along racial lines.
The Democratic Party is going extinct in places like Louisiana, Arkansas and West Virginia. It’s vanishing because the working class White Democrat is becoming extinct.

A generation ago, white Democrats outnumbered white Republicans. Today it’s the other way around. Under Obama, barely a quarter of white people still identify as Democrats.

The latest Pew poll shows that 74 percent of Democrats support ObamaCare, but only 29 percent of white respondents do. The Democratic Party is becoming a party without white people. Under Obama, the Democratic disadvantage among white voters doubled without any corresponding gains among minority voters.

Meanwhile Republicans increased their share of white voters. And that’s only telling part of the story.

The nation’s largest party is “none of the above”. Independents began to decisively outnumber both parties under Obama. Hispanic voters are increasingly identifying as independents. So are white men.

And though the independents come from both parties, they increasingly swing Republican in key races.

Tribalism helped Obama win a second term, but it didn’t fix the underlying flaw in the Democratic model. And it actually worsened the situation. The more the Democrats sounded racially divisive notes, the more they alienated white voters, not just by abusing them, but by ignoring their concerns.

Republican congressional candidates won 64 percent of white working class voters. (Democrat Mary) Landrieu won just 18 percent of the white vote (in the 2014 Louisiana senate race); 22 percent among white women and 15 percent among white men. That’s less than the amount taken by a second Republican candidate in the race, Rob Maness.

(Democrat) Mark Pryor won only 31 percent of white voters (in his Arkansas reelection contest). (Democrat Michelle) Nunn won 23 percent of white voters (in the Georgia 2014 senate race). The Dems didn’t do this badly everywhere, but where they lost it was usually because the white vote sharply tilted away from them enough to offset their overwhelming minority percentages.

The Democrats have a white voter problem. The party is betting that it won’t outlast Obama because it confused its own propaganda with reality and decided that white voters hate Obama because he’s black.

It was never Obama’s race that was the problem. It was the Democratic Party’s embrace of leftist radicalism at the national level while waging identity politics wars along the lines of race and gender.

Republicans don’t have a problem with black people. Democrats do have a problem with white people.

The party is now under the sway of an elitist class of white leftists for whom “white people” is an insult, not a group of voters. And by “white people” they mean the sort of voters who conclusively tossed them out in West Virginia, Nevada and Arkansas.

Now the Democrats are hoping that Hillary Clinton can save their party, but first she has to decide who she is. Hillary has tried to play up racial appeals to white voters before overcorrecting and going the other way. At times she sounds like she wants to appeal to working class voters and at other times she returns to her native element pushing the policy toys of the technocracy.

Instead of the Democratic Party’s Great White Hope, Hillary more closely resembles Mary Landrieu veering between accusations of racism and support for the Keystone pipeline. The left’s attacks on Landrieu for supporting the pipeline only highlight the impossible dilemma of any Democrat trying to run to the right of Obama and Nancy Pelosi. They have to either abandon their voters or their party.

The Democratic Party has moved so far to the left that it has alienated all white voters who aren’t on the left and its botched programs like ObamaCare are even beginning to alienate minority voters. Minority support for ObamaCare has hit a new low. Finding white support for ObamaCare requires a microscope.

But the Democratic Party can’t change. It has become dependent on a small donor class of men like Bloomberg, Soros and Steyer whose ad buys and think tanks dictate their agenda. To win, Hillary, Biden and any other candidate must first win over billionaires whose priorities of gun control, no pipeline and lots of big government are exactly the things that have pushed the Democratic Party to the edge.

If Hillary doesn’t win (the 2016 election), one of the big two parties may go extinct. But it won’t be the Republicans.
Let us hope so.



Friday, January 23, 2015

Friday Follies Happy Hour 2015.01.23

My oldest son is in Las Vegas this week for a 'business conference.' I've been to a few of those, and the only business that's involved is monkey business.

Anyway, here's the sights and sounds of Vegas ... ZZ Top-style!

(You'll have to sit through a 15 second commercial at the beginning, but it's worth it.)

I Ain't No Sitzpinkler

Leave it to the Euroweenies to make a big deal over how men urinate.
A court in Germany has ruled in favour of a man's right to urinate while standing up after his landlord demanded money for damage to the bathroom floor.

The landlord, who was seeking €1,900 (£1400; $2,200), claimed the marble floor had been damaged by urine.

But the Duesseldorf judge ruled that the man's method was within cultural norms, saying "urinating standing up is still common practice".
"...still common practice?" Is it going out of style?
There is some debate in Germany about whether men should sit or stand to pee.

Some toilets have red traffic-style signs forbidding the standing position - but those who choose to sit are often referred to as a "Sitzpinkler", implying it is not masculine behaviour.
Here in Texas we have a saying about a person who exhibits unmasculine behavior: "He squats to piss."
Judge Stefan Hank agreed with an expert's report that uric acid had caused some damage to the bathroom's floor.

But concluding, he said men who insist on standing "must expect occasional rows with housemates, especially women" but cannot be held to account for collateral damage.
My wife sure holds me to account for 'collateral damage.' I think she could tolerate the occasional drop or two on the floor, but she gets downright hostile if my aim is a little off and some ends up on the seat.

Of course, if she would put it back up when she's finished that wouldn't be a problem, but she doesn't see it that way.
"Despite growing domestication of men in this matter, urinating while standing up is still common practice," he added.
"...growing domestication of men...?" If that means forcing them to sit while urinating, I would argue that's not domestication, but rather emasculation.

As a bonus, here's some ammunition for all you ladies out there who are fighting the Great Toilet Seat War.

How to Make Your Own "Put Toilet Seat Down" Sticker
If you’ve had enough of fumbling in the middle of the night to use the bathroom only to take an Alice in Toilet Land tumble into the porcelain black hole all because the toilet seat has, once again, been left up––there is hope. While you might try to reason with those who leave the toilet seat upright, or go so far as to tape down the seat or even install child locks, inevitably the seat will find its way to the upright position again. One fun way around the constant cajoling to keep the seat down is to stickers that carry messages encouraging all users to kindly put that seat back down where it belongs.

If stickers don't work, you can always try this.


Men, the best advice I can give you is just go outside.

Do Not Play With Deflated Balls

There's a nasty little controversy brewing about the New England Patriots victory over the Indianapolis Colts in last Sunday's NFL playoffs.

For those of you who don't follow pro football, the Patriots resoundingly trounced the Colts 45-7 to advance to the Superbowl. The game was played in foul weather - cold, rainy, and windy. In such conditions, it is easier to throw an under-inflated ball. This is not just my opinion. Experts agree.
If the NFL's New England Patriots did deflate their game balls, even slightly, it would have given them an advantage during their playoff win this past weekend, said Chang Kee Jung, who teaches a course on the physics of sports at Stony Brook University in Long Island, New York.

Ninety percent of the time, you want a ball that’s properly pumped to give you the furthest throwing trajectory, Jung said. But when in bad weather, a squishier ball is easier to throw and catch.

“On cold days, a fully inflated ball is ... hard as a brick,” he said, “Having a softer ball would allow the quarterback to throw more accurately in a tighter spiral and make it easier for the receiver to catch."

Needless to say, some folks are quite upset - with what seems to be good reason.
Eleven footballs the New England Patriots brought to Sunday's AFC championship game have now been determined by the NFL to be under-inflated – by 2 full pounds – according to ESPN, which cited the preliminary findings of a league investigation.

The home team in an NFL game is required to provide 12 footballs... Yet almost all of them came in at the same, illegal level, 2 pounds lighter? The ball is supposed to be inflated to between 12.5 pounds and 13.5 pounds per square inch, so 16 percent below the legal minimum.

That's not a little. Not the number of under-inflated balls, not the amount they are under-inflated. Some gamesmanship of trying to pump up or down a ball is understood. Everyone is always trying to gain an edge. This isn't that. This isn't a coincidence. And, because it's the Patriots and because it's in the run-up to the Super Bowl at the end of a season when the NFL has been consumed by scandals, it's a huge story. Fair or not, that's life in the big city.
Compounding the situation is the Patriot's reputation as an organization that bends - and at times shatters - the rules.

The New England Patriots are in hot water ... again.
The Patriots have been the cream of the crop in the NFL ever since Bill Belichick took over as head coach in 2000. But the three-time Super Bowl champions have been embroiled in some off-the-field scandals over the years. The latest is accusations the Patriots deflated footballs in their AFC Championship win last week.

Here's a look at some of the most memorable controversies over the last two decades under Belichick.

BELICHICK'S MESSY ARRIVAL IN NEW ENGLAND

Long before Belichick and Tom Brady were winning Super Bowls in New England, Belichick was a coach with the New York Jets. When Jets' head coach Bill Parcells stepped down in 1999, it was already decided that Belichick would succeed him in New York.

The news conference to introduce Belichick as the new head coach turned out to be quite the opposite. Belichick scribbled his resignation on a piece of paper: "I resign as HC of the NYJ."

The Jets demanded compensation from the Patriots because Belichick was still under contract with the team. The NFL stepped in and the Jets were awarded the Patriots' first-round draft pick in 2000. This was also the opening salvo in a heated Jets-Patriots rivalry that continues to this day.

SPY-GATE

Perhaps the most publicized scandal involving the Patriots took place on Sept. 9, 2007 when the team was caught illegally videotaping Jets' coaches' defensive signals. And thus the term "spy-gate" was introduced to the sports world.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell fined Belichick $500,000 and the Patriots $250,000. The Patriots also forfeited their first-round draft pick.

TUCK RULE GAME

Even 13 years after the infamous "tuck rule" game, critics still believe it's a game the Patriots should have never won.

Let's set the scene: It was Jan. 19, 2002 and the Patriots were facing the Oakland Raiders in a divisional playoff game in the snow at Foxboro Stadium, the former home of the Pats. The Raiders were leading the Patriots in the fourth quarter when Raiders' cornerback Charles Woodson sacked Brady, forcing him to lose the football. The Raiders recovered the ball and all they had to do was run out the clock to advance in the playoffs.

 That was until referees overturned the play, saying Brady's arm was moving forward, thus making it an incomplete pass and not a fumble. The refs pointed to the "tuck rule," which was eliminated from the NFL rulebook in 2013.

The rest, as they say, is history. Patriots went on to win the game and eventually their first Super Bowl.

DECEPTION

A week before deflate-gate became a household name, there was some controversy swirling around the Patriots' playoff win over the Baltimore Ravens in a tightly contested 35-31 game. Ravens coach John Harbaugh accused the Pats of a "substitution trick" that was "clearly deception."

The Patriots dug into their bag of tricks on their second drive of the third quarter, lining up just four offensive linemen and declaring a normally eligible receiver as ineligible to keep Baltimore off balance. Ravens players were confused about which Patriots to match up with in coverage.

 Harbaugh said it was a tactic that "nobody has ever seen before."

Brady wanted none of that and fired back after the game.

"Maybe those guys gotta study the rulebook and figure it out. We obviously knew what we were doing and we made some pretty important plays. It was a real good weapon for us," he said.

DEFLATE-GATE

The latest controversy surrounds accusations the team used under-inflated balls in their 45-7 rout of the Indianapolis Colts to earn their sixth trip to the Super Bowl.

According to ESPN, 11 of the 12 balls used by the team were under-inflated by two pounds per square inch. Footballs, which are weighed before the game, must be inflated to no less than 12.5 pounds per square inch.

 A deflated ball could be easier for the quarterback to grip in bad weather, such as in Sunday's rain at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.

The NFL is investigating...
Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, the whole thing has provided some much-needed distraction from the SCOAMF in the WHite House and his absurd SOTU address. It's also served as fodder for a hilarious spoof-commercial.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Man After My Own Heart

Posted without comment, because anything I add would be superfluous.

Milwaukee Sheriff Thinks Al Sharpton Should ‘Go Back Into the Gutter He Came From’
Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke had strong words for MSNBC’s Al Sharpton Thursday morning on “Fox & Friends.”

“I don’t expect anything intelligent to come out of the mouth of Al Sharpton,” Clarke said in response to news that the Department of Justice won’t press civil rights charges against former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Steve Doocy had just played a clip of Sharpton’s Dec. 3 comments following the Eric Garner grand jury decision.

“Al Sharpton ought to just shut up and go back into the gutter he came from,” Clarke added, calling Sharpton a “charlatan.”
Amen, brother!



Doing It Up Right

Yesterday we discussed historical aspects of the State of the Union address. Lost in all the hoopla over obama's lie-fest was that on Monday Texas inaugurated Greg Abbott as our new governor, replacing Rick "Good Hair" Perry.

The Abbott inauguration celebration was a reminder that Texas does everything bigger and better than other states.
When Greg Abbott (became) the Lone Star State’s first new chief executive in more than a dozen years, the festivities will be as monumental as the occasion — 4 tons of brisket will await hungry picnickers, six live acts are slated to perform at various events and more than 10,000 are expected to attend the huge celebratory ball at the Convention Center. Abbott’s team has raised more than $4 million to pay for the events, a record-breaking amount for modern times.
Impressive as that sounds, it's chicken feed compared to Pappy O'Daniels party back in 1939.
Wilbert Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel changed the way Texans would look at inaugural celebrations. Before him, the events were largely stately affairs, marked by public oaths and stuffy balls attended only by politically connected elite. Pappy — a populist politician who listed bookkeeper, flour salesman and band leader on his resume — turned tradition on its head with his inauguration in 1939.

“A stiff-little top-hatted parade, a solemn swearing-in at the Capitol, a reception in the Executive Mansion and a dressy ball are enough inauguration for most governors. But not O’Daniel,” LIFE Magazine wrote in January 1939, an edition which devoted a five-page spread to the inaugural. “He put on the biggest show in Texas history.”

More than 60,000 people turned out that day, packing the stadium stands to watch, chowing down on nearly 10 tons of meat at the state Capitol before dancing late into the night in the streets of this city’s downtown.

It was called “the biggest show in Texas history.”
The biggest inaugural extravaganza of all occurred in 1939, at the tail end of the Depression, when W. Lee "Please Pass the Biscuits, Pappy" O’Daniel took the oath of office at the University of Texas’ Memorial Stadium. Nearly 60,000 Texans witnessed the Fort Worth flour salesman and popular radio personality take the oath.
News accounts remarked that 19,000 pounds of meat (including buffalo the governor claimed to have shot himself) were cooked in massive pits dug into the mansion grounds. O’Daniel, who built his stardom as a radio personality and band leader, also made sure a free breakfast was available.

O’Daniel considered the Capitol steps too small a venue for his oath taking. So he moved it to UT’s stadium, where supporters sang “Beautiful Texas,” an ode to his adopted state that the new governor had himself written. He then hosted a massive “full-dress historical pageant” of a parade up Congress Avenue that featured 37 bands.

If this wasn’t celebration enough, that night the governor halted traffic along six blocks around the Capitol so thousands could dance in the streets. The entertainment was of course provided by O’Daniel’s own “hillbilly band,” the Light Crust Doughboys.
If the  Light Crust Doughboys sound familiar, they should. That's the band that launched Bob Wills - the King of Western Swing - to stardom. Where else but Texas can you find a governor whose greatest claim to fame is as the leader of a band that popularized honky-tonk music?


Oh, and need I mention that Abbott's inauguration day was drop-dead gorgeous? Blue bird skies and temps near 80.

Today, however, is a different matter...

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

State Of The Union Education

No, I didn't waste my time watching barry's State of the Union address. It was obvious going in that it was just going to be a pile of warmed-over tripe: "Make the rich pay their fair share;" We need to invest more money in the middle class;" "Big corporations are making too much money and ruining the environment;" "Republicans are racists;" "The Tea Party is a terrorist organization;" "muslims are our friends" ... blah, blah, blah.

Instead, I did a little research on the origination and history of the SOTO address itself. We tend to assume that the State of the Union speech has always been what we see today. But it has in fact changed and evolved over the years, going all the way back to George Washington. (Sources for the following are here and here.)

In fact, the speech itself is not required, and for over a century took the form of a written report to Congress. It doesn't even have to be an annual affair. The exact wording in the Constitution (Article II, Section 3 ) says that the President shall "from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." Nothing in there about an annual speech.

Here's a few more fun facts.

George Washington Delivered the First State of the Union
The first official presidential speech before a joint session session of Congress was given by George Washington on January 8, 1790, in New York City. At the time, New York was the nation’s provisional capital.

For the first 12 years of the United States, Presidents George Washington and John Adams delivered the president's message much like today's presidents do — they traveled to Congress and gave an oral speech to them. (Throughout most of US history, what we now know of as the State of the Union address was called the president's annual message.)
Thomas Jefferson started a 112-year tradition of giving the message only in writing
But when Thomas Jefferson took office in 1801, he decided to change things — and send only a written message rather than going to give a speech. Publicly, he said that such a change would take up less of the legislators' time, and prevent them from feeling pressured to come up with their own response. The spectacle of a president addressing Congress had also seemed to some Republicans "altogether too reminiscent of the monarch's speech from the throne at the opening of Parliament," wrote historian Daniel Walker Howe.
When Woodrow Wilson revived the in-person speech to Congress in 1913, Washington DC was astonished
For over a century, every president would follow Jefferson's example, and send only a written annual message to Congress. But a young political scientist by the name of Woodrow Wilson wasn't convinced. Wilson had long been interested in how presidential rhetoric could be more effectively used, and in 1889, Wilson wrote that Jefferson should never have made the switch, since an oral presidential message could have allowed a "more public and responsible interchange of opinion between the Executive and Congress."

When Wilson himself became president in 1913, he had the opportunity to put his ideas into action. As a special session of Congress was about to begin that April, Wilson decided that he'd address them personally to promote his agenda. "The announcement stunned official Washington," Robert Kraig wrote in a book on Wilson. Kraig writes that a contemporary press account portrayed Congress as "astonished," and that even members of Wilson's Cabinet were doubted the wisdom of the move.

But the speech — which technically wasn't an "annual message" — went over well, and press coverage was positive. So when the traditional time for Wilson's first message arrived in December, he delivered that as an in-person speech too. He'd deliver five more in-person annual messages, before reverting to written messages for his final two due to bad health. Presidents Coolidge and Hoover would revert to mostly written messages, but FDR would make an in-person — and nationally broadcast — speech the norm.
FDR Coined the Phrase, ‘State of the Union’
Prior to 1937, what is now called the State of the Union Address was referred to as “the President’s Annual Message to Congress.”

It was FDR who started giving the term "state of the union" increased prominence, particularly starting in January 1942, shortly after the US entrance into World War II. According to the House of Representatives clerk's office, FDR's speech then "began to be informally called the 'state of the Union' message/address." A few years later, President Truman officially named it the "State of the Union Address," and that name has stuck since.
Ronald Reagan started the practice of inviting special guests
In January 1982, a plane crashed into Washington, DC's 14th Street Bridge and fell into the Potomac River, killing 78 people. In the chaos, Congressional Budget Office employee Lenny Skutnik jumped into the river and helped rescue a passenger. So the Reagan Administration invited Skutnik to the State of the Union address two weeks later — where the president personally praised him for his heroism. Members of Congress gave him a standing ovation, as TV cameras panned over to Skutnik (one caption read: "Plane Crash Hero").

Reagan and future presidents would soon expand this practice to include not just heroes, but ordinary Americans whose stories (and faces) could help illustrate one of the speech's points. DC wags would soon dub these guests "Skutniks." In the words of reporter Jeff Greenfield, "A skutnik is a human prop, used by a speaker to make a political point."

The practice of inviting Skutniks has been enthusiastically embraced by the Obama administration. This year, 22 invited guests will attend the State of the Union speech — including an astronaut, a community college student, a small business owner, and a DREAMer.
Clinton Holds the Record for Longest Speech
Bill Clinton’s 2000 State of the Union address took 1 hour, 28 minutes and 49 seconds long to deliver, including gaps for applause, which is the longest such speech since they were measured in terms of time. By way of contrast, George W. Bush’s 2006 lasted 51 minutes including more than 60 interruptions for applause.

The record for the shortest speech in State of the Union history is held by George Washington, whose first was comprised of only 833 words. It is estimated that, at modern rates of speech delivery, between 115 and 175 words per minute, Washington’s speech would have lasted no more than seven minutes not counting time for applause.
Reagan’s 1986 Speech Was the Only SOTU to Be Postponed
President Ronald Reagan’s 1986 addressed was scheduled to be delivered on January 28, though tragedy intervened.

On the scheduled morning of the State of the Union, the space shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven of its crew.

Reagan, speaking to the nation on television, chose instead to delay the State of the Union and discuss tragedy of the Challenger instead. The State of the Union was delivered a week later.
Technology and the SOTU
President Calvin Coolidge delivered the first address to be broadcast on radio in 1923. Twenty four years later, Harry Truman would become the first president to deliver his State of the Union to a televised audience in 1947.

In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson changed the time of the speech from mid-afternoon to 9 p.m. so as to better accommodate a live television audience. By the time President George W. Bush delivered his 2006 address, 41.7 million people would tune in to watch.

Fifty-five years after Truman, in 2002, George W. Bush would be the first president to make his State of the Union available live on the Internet.
Finally, if you think today's political speeches are bad, check out what has to be the most unintelligible SOTU line ever.
Thankfully, Benjamin Harrison delivered a written State of the Union to Congress, because everyone would laugh at him if he said this aloud.

"The state of the Union is known from day to day, and suggestions as to needed legislation find an earlier voice than that which speaks in these annual communications of the President to Congress."
That makes later speeches models of clarity.

As for the speech itself, it has devolved from a serious recital of issues and solutions to standard political claptrap. For example, this year obama will propose a wish list that he knows doesn't have a snowball's chance in Hell of passing, but that positions the democrats to campaign in 2016 as 'the party that wants to give something to everyone, but those mean old republicans won't let us.'

So much for serious measures to improve the State of the Union.