Just A Thought, Jabroni

 walter-2.jpg Civilizer

I was thinking today that Barack Obama can’t keep relying on his own oratory; it can only take him so far.  It’s been great for the primary, serving to perfectly contrast himself with his dour, nasty, petty shrew of an opponent.  But once we get to the general, it’s going to be same old, same old, we’ve heard this song before after a while.  He must keep his core of positivity, of course, but he’s going to need to freshen up his act.

So I’m watching Monday Night RAW the other night, and they announce the next two inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame: “High Chief” Peter Maivia and Rocky Johnson.  They’re a father and son-in-law duo, Rocky being married to Peter’s daughter.  And Rocky’s son just so happens to be…The Rock himself.  The Great One.  The People’s Champ.  The Most Electrifying Man In Sports Entertainment.  And it occurs to me that there is Obama’s answer.

“Change You Can Believe In” is a fine catchphrase, but how awesome would it be if, at each one of Senator Obama’s campaign appearances, he finished up his speech and then The Rock took the mic and dropped the greatest catchphrase in all of wrestling, slightly modified, on a nation hungry for excitement:

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IF YA SMELL…what BARACK…is…cookin’

Now there’s a message you can approve, Senator.

Barack Obama Opens A Can On Nader’s Candy Ass: Quote Of The Day

“My sense is, is that Mr. Nader is somebody who if you don’t listen and adopt all of his policies, thinks you’re not substantive.  He seems to have a pretty high opinion of his own work…I do think there’s a sense now that if somebody is not hewing to the Ralph Nader agenda then you must be lacking in some way.”

Senator Obama has been pulling in the votes, the delegates, and the superdelegates with strong speeches and positive oratory about “joining together” and all that let’s-hold-hands stuff.  It’s really nice to see the guy being more of a prick.  I don’t want “change you can believe in” Obama looking across the table at the Iranians and the Russians.  However, this Obama, the “Ralph Nader is an ass clown” Obama, is a guy I can get behind.

Middle Finger Of The Apocalpyse: Ralph Nader

I think Ralph Nader enjoys crapping all over his heretofore proud legacy as a consumer advocate.  That, and he’s really a big fan of himself.  As I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, the Green Party’s cranky old man is launching his third straight “bid” for the presidency.  I put “bid” in quotations marks because I don’t see Nader’s campaigns as actual pursuits of the White House so much as high-profile bitch sessions for a guy who has transformed himself into the political equivalent of the old guy at the pancake house who wears a lot of plaid and won’t shut up about how the coffee’s too cold.

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Rage Against The Machine sucks, and always has sucked, and always will suck.

Keep in mind that Nader presents himself as the sworn enemy of corporate interests.  He says stuff like “This (George W. Bush’s) administration is not sympathetic to corporations, it is indentured to corporations.”  Corporate interests this, corporate interests that, Republicans are evil, Democrats are cowardly sell-outs, blah blah blah.  The most unseasoned of political neophytes could tell you that Nader’s criticisms strike most deeply at the GOP, the party generally being perceived as the most beholden to big bad Corporate America.  And yet, Nader has three times now inserted himself into a presidential race in which his presence helps the Republican candidate by siphoning votes from the Democratic challenger.  This might not matter in landslide situations, but elections have been damn close lately.

So he enters the race, late, with little money, the idealism vote locked up by Barack Obama, basically all dressed up in an off-the-rack suit with no place to go.  Even he can’t actually believe he can win, so there’s really no explanation for his candidacy other than that he has lost all perspective regarding what a guy like him can do within the process.  So for once again launching a pointless, hopeless presidential campaign built on nothing but recycled complaints that no one in their right mind believes he is the guy to solve, Ralph Nader takes home the coveted Middle Finger Of The Apocalypse award.

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The Republicans’ Conservative Test Will Do More Harm Than Good

walter-2.jpg Civilizer

The GOP is a perplexing party this election.  Say what you will about their legislative record during the past several years, or the family values Congressmen that like to have sex with dudes, but the GOP’s behavior as a party has been nothing if not unified and consistent.  Very rarely do you see internal policy squabbling spill into the press, and if one of their members screws up and makes the party look bad, he’s promptly devoured within the next news cycle.  Just look at how quickly Mitt Romney let go of pal Larry Craig’s hand and let him plummet down the cliff face. Again, you might not like how they govern, but policy discipline has nevertheless been a strength.  Which makes the conservative gauntlet that presumptive presidential nominee John McCain has been forced to run a real head-scratcher.  Watching the “conservative base” throw votes at the quixotic Mike Huckabee the way they have been, one gets the feeling that if John McCain doesn’t punch a Mexican immigrant in the face on camera pretty soon, then the base is willing to just stay home in the general.   

Of course, McCain has bigger headaches at the moment, namely that unbelievably weak New York Times article that turned a paragraph’s worth of uncorroborated insinuation about an affair with a lobbyist into a pointed rehash of McCain’s ethics record.  However, the article was so poorly sourced, and the substantive criticisms of McCain’s seeming ethical missteps will of course be drowned out by the infidelity accusations which will go nowhere, so this storm is probably going to blow over pretty soon.  Heck, it’s more likely that McCain’s crew will get this spun into a referendum on responsible reporting during a presidential election and take the heat off their candidate.  Which will be good, because there’s going to be plenty of hot air blown in the senator’s direction by the conservatives.

If conservatives get their way and put McCain through a very public litmus test-style examination of his conservative bona fides and force him to kiss the ring, they will have won a decidedly phyrric victory.  I think that after 8 years of Bush and the rout the Republicans suffered in the last Congressional elections, voting patterns in the ’08 presidential election will turn out to be a repudiation of the conservative policies of the past 8 years.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the country is suddenly going to veer left by any means, but moderates are going to have their say, and the candidate that can pull most of them along is probably going to win.  Popularity with moderates is McCain’s great strength, and forcing him to kowtow to the conservative wing of the party is going to sap that strength.

This part of the GOP seems unable to understand how their priorities fit into the greater context of our national condition.  The economy is weak, we are fighting two expensive hot wars as well as ramping up spending on the War on Terror in general, entitlement spending is set to expand dramatically as baby boomers retire, and yet they want to make the Bush tax cuts permanent. When McCain comes out against the cuts becoming permanent, the Club for Growth loses its shit.  I’m a Republican, and I like low taxes too, but depriving the government of tax revenue at this juncture strikes me as stupid, and I’m willing to bet it strikes a lot of people as stupid.  The problem with the GOP on taxes is emblematic of their problems nationwide – they are holding steadfastly to principles that are fine when confined to philosophy, but must be flexible when faced with reality.  Fiscal conservatism is a good philosophy.  But the conservative wing of the GOP has diluted the meaning of fiscal conservatism – no longer a prudent balancing of budgetary priorities with an eye towards keeping taxes and government spending low, but rather low taxes no matter what macroeconomic conditions dictate.  McCain should be applauded for expressing skepticism about cutting taxes when there’s so much to pay for.  He is, instead, vilified.

He also catches a fair amount of hell for his environmental policies.  He’s opposed to drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve, for example.  Never mind that it’s an ecologically responsible and moral position to take, drilling for oil in Alaska would have precious little effect on fuel prices.  But forget all that, the conservatives pipe up that it “makes us more dependent on foreign oil.”  Driving big cars and failing to adopt energy efficient technologies is what makes us more dependent on foreign oil…yet conservatives and their oil company donors continue to make themselves look both environmentally destructive and avaricious in the extreme as the rest of the nation looks on and public opinion in favor of protecting the environment mounts.  It’s because these elements of the GOP don’t realize how far off the reservation, nationally, they are that McCain loses points for such a reasonable position…they don’t get that when McCain wins points with them, he loses votes.

The story right now is the prospect that a drawn-out Obama-Clinton fight for the nomination will lead to months of internecine fighting within the Democratic party and cleave it in two.  I don’t think that’s an issue facing the Republicans – they have to worry instead about the possibility that a conservative pounding will leave them with a weakened John McCain for the general election and will cause long-term alienation among undecided voters.  After a wide-open primary for both parties and no incumbent VP in the running, this is a branding election.  If the GOP lets a pill-popping fat man and his ilk brand them, they’re going to find themselves losing often and badly.

100 Posts! I Thought This Would Hold My Interest For 12, Tops

walter-2.jpg Civilizer

This is the 100th post on All Things In Their Place.  I swear, I never thought I would still be doing this.  The odds are stacked against any new blogger – most of them grossly overestimate the audience for poorly punctuated histrionics, political jeremiads, and One Tree Hill-style emoting.  Even for bloggers like me, who try and avoid the latter categories in favor of marginally well-informed, snarky political stuff, writing each post is an exhausting exercise in self-discipline as merely being on the internet doing research for a post is like skiing a slalom course of distraction.  Just in attempting to write this paragraph, which has taken about 90 seconds of actual typing, I have spent 17 minutes watching the infamous “lightning bolt” LARPing video on YouTube.  So I don’t blame you if you read my first post back in June of 2007 and thought “This thing’s dead by the 4th of July.”  But nevertheless, I’m still going.  So I thought that the best way to celebrate my 100th post would be to highlight a few other people or things that no one thought would last as long as they have.  Starting with…

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1.  “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair – In one week’s time, Ric Flair will be 59 years old.  Fifty-nine!  And not only is he still wrestling, he’s still, at worst, a mid-carder with World Wrestling Entertainment.  Not stumbling around some cow palace in Gary, Indiana or doing drunken, rambling shoot interviews for a couple bucks, but wrestling pay-per-views for WWE.  That’s like being 59 years old and still turning in 1,000-yard seasons in the NFL.  Just last night, the guy beat Mr. Kennedy clean with the figure-four leglock!  Yes, I think it’s fair to say that Ric Flair is the “All Things In Their Place of Professional Wrestling.”

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2.  Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign – on May 3rd, 2007, the moderator asked all those on the stage who do not believe in evolution to raise their hands.  Mike Huckabee raised his hand.  Jon Stewart, among others, pronounced his candidacy immediately dead (go to the 4:00 mark).  It is now February 18th, 2008.  He is still in the race.  Dammit America, get it together and quit giving this guy delegates!  Seriously!

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3.  The rap music – no melody, vulgar language, no singing, most of the songs are about butts, no ass-kicking guitar solos, and yet it’s still around and, I’m told, quite popular with the young people.  Hey, takes all kinds I guess.

So there you go – three other people or things that beat the odds, just like ATITP did.  But for the record, if out of those three it’s Mike Huckabee who is still around 100 posts from now, I am going lightning bolt all over his ass.

Another Latin Name That Sounds Awesome In English

Meet Eocarcharia dinops:

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Which means “fierce-eyed dawn shark.”  It had “powerful limbs and 3-inch-long blade-shaped teeth, likely for disabling prey and severing body parts.” 

Steven Spielberg Shows Up The State Department And The U.N.

walter-2.jpg Civilizer

My reaction to celebrities “taking a stand” on political issues has evolved from moderate annoyance to a shrugging indifference, but I really must applaud Steven Spielberg for the way he pantsed the Chinese government this week.  Spielberg pulled out of his role as artistic director for the Beijing Olympics scheduled for this summer over Chinese inaction in the Darfur genocide.

I wouldn’t exactly say this was courageous on Spielberg’s part.  He’s got an Everest-sized pile of money, one of the best reputations in all of Hollywood, plus he directed Hook.  He didn’t need to be artistic director of the Beijing Games any more than Michael Jordan needs to win a game of H-O-R-S-E with Ryan Seacrest.  However, this move was most certainly astute.  As a guy who has spent his professional career putting on big productions and pushing hard for a huge opening, Spielberg knows that these Games are China’s international coming out party, and as the Opening Ceremonies near, the eyes of the world are watching.  So with all those eyeballs, he shined a big ol’ spotlight on the Chinese government’s relationship with the butchers of Darfur just as the Communists are assiduously stage-managing every possible angle of their big debut.  Bangarang!