“Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intervention in Ukraine is not a sign of Russian strength…” said U.S. President Barack Obama, standing in an elementary school classroom on this colorful alphabet rug. Seriously. This happened. (Thanks to MikeW for the link in the comments). Doesn’t he have people to scope out these locations in advance?
Not that the press conference went out this way — the shot was framed in the standard talking-head-plus-flags format. Still, this day and age, they didn’t think other photos would leak to the internets?
Anyway, that’s the image I should have been riffing on tonight. Instead, I did something I haven’t done in years — got a book in the mail this morning and read it all in one go. Blew most of my day and had to sprint at the end.
March 6, 2014 — 12:13 am
Mad Jack, as he looks tonight relaxing on the sofa. Since you haven’t seen him in a while. I don’t know why he looks grumpy (maybe because I’m pointing a camera at him). The weather is finally improving a little here (sorry, ‘Muricans) and he’s having a spectacularly good time dashing up and down the lawn. Oh, how we worry about the road.
In other insane news, did you catch this thing in the New Republic, about how Vladimir Putin actually might be a little cray-cray? I know, I know…TNR. But this is their hired Putin-watcher, and it’s worth a read. This is Vlad at today’s press conference:
So I don’t know what happened there. It’s unclear. But did you see the bullets piercing the shields of the Berkut [special police]. That was obvious. As for who gave the order to shoot, I don’t know. Yanukovich didn’t give that order. He told me. I only know what Yanukovich told me. And I told him, don’t do it. You’ll bring chaos to your city. And he did it, and they toppled him. Look at that bacchanalia. The American political technologists they did their work well. And this isn’t the first time they’ve done this in Ukraine, no. Sometimes, I get the feeling that these people…these people in America. They are sitting there, in their laboratory, and doing experiments, like on rats. You’re not listening to me. I’ve already said, that yesterday, I met with three colleagues. Colleagues, you’re not listening. It’s not that Yanukovich said he’s not going to sign the agreement with Europe. What he said was that, based on the content of the agreement, having examined it, he did not like it. We have problems. We have a lot of problems in Russia. But they’re not as bad as in Ukraine.
She (the reporter) claims that’s pretty close to verbatim, and he rambled on like that for an hour. Also, Angela Merkel (who’s pretty sympatico with Vlad) said he was in “another world” after talking to him on the phone. Also (I can’t source this, I forgot where I read it, but ever’body’s talking about it) he claims those aren’t Russian troops in the Crimea. They’re locals, loyal to Russia, who just bought themselves Russian military uniforms, which you can totally get at Wal*Mart. Or something.
Honestly, I think the only reason our top guys never go entirely nuts is that they have a maximum of eight years to go loopy in.
March 4, 2014 — 11:54 pm
Two contradictory observations. One, I’m not sure the situation in Ukraine is as dangerous as it looks. And two, when powerful nutjobs and geopolitical forces are on the move, scary unexpected chainreaction bad things can happen.
Oh, and three — Putin’s nipples scare me.
March 3, 2014 — 10:18 pm
One of the downsides of marrying a foreigner: you have to own up to embarrassing things about your own culture that you would otherwise kick under the rug and forget. For me, one of these is the annual humiliating spectacle of the president’s State of the Union speech.
Any recent president. I won’t pretend they weren’t just awful under Bush.
The president promises a lot of stupid, empty shit that will never, ever happen, and every time he pauses, the guys on his side of the room leap to their feet and applaud like trained seals.
We’re going back to the moon! ORT! ORT! ORT!
Watermelon flavored bubblegum! ORT! ORT! ORT!
Adorable puppies! ORT! ORT! ORT!
In especially bad times, the opposition sits through the whole thing with their arms folded, scowling like they’ve just fellated a pickle. It’s so awful.
I was reading this Peggy Noonan piece on SOTU speeches earlier. For a moment, I couldn’t work out why she thought they’d ever been worth watching, and then I remembered — she’s a former speech writer! Still, she has a point; they haven’t always been dreadful political theater. I remember speeches that sounded substantive, announced new and important things and were lightly peppered with polite applause.
So I took a little tour through YouTube. I didn’t watch whole speeches — this is my half-assed blog, not real science — but I sampled SOTUs going back as far as LBJ. Mostly I was looking for when those multiple, unnecessary standing o’s became a regular feature.
I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that everything turned sharply tacky under Billy Jeff Clinton. What did surprise me, it wasn’t post-impeachment. I assumed all that false enthusiasm was a weird kind of shame reaction, but no — I think it must have been more in response to his style of SOTU. His were long, long shopping lists of lefty policy fantasies. Apparatchik eat that shit up.
Anyway, State of the Union is tonight. Um, yay.
January 28, 2014 — 11:07 pm
In case the brilliance of my iconography is not immediately apparent, that’s the V from V for Vendetta superimposed over the Fox News logo. Because — holy shit, you guys — Ezra Klein is going to call his new website Vox Media.
Ezra Klein, if you’re blessed not to know, is the thirty-something crown prince of the New Media Wunderkinder that old fart journalists think are the bee’s knees. Klein was also the brains behind the Journolist.
There is no sense in which that name is a good idea. It’s going to be near impossible to distinguish between Vox and Fox when, say, talking on a cell phone. (My mother took a job at the switchboard/intercom of a hospital once. She swore when she started she’d never say “nyan” instead of “nine” because, doesn’t that sound silly? And within days she was saying “nyan” instead of “nine” because, honest-to-god, nobody can hear the difference over a crappy PA system and doctors were all phoning her up to ask, “did you say nine or five?”).
I doubt he did it on purpose. I mean, counting on clicks from people who mis-hear or mis-type another website is so very low rent. It’s the kind of sleazy dick move that pornographers and bottom feeders like whoever runs the Drudge Retort get up to. Klein views himself as a Real Serious Journalist, so that would be out of character.
On the other hand, if they chose the name without thinking through the whole Vox, Fox thing — how amateurish is that? I refused to join the Graphic Artists’ Guild because — c’mon, you guys, you’re graphic artists! You’re supposed to do style issues like acronyms!
UPDATE: Ohhhhh….hang on. Vox Media is already a thing. Klein is hitching his wagon to their star, where he joins other illustrious titles. Like Curbed, Eater, and Racked.
January 27, 2014 — 11:45 pm
Chris Christie as the StayPuft marshmallow man. Because he’s fat. How long have I been a sooper genius? Oh, all my life, I guess.
I’m not very passionate about Christie either way. He can be funny and personable (should that be and/or personable?) when he wants. He an also be a tiresome, typical Northeast squish RINO. Whatever. I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about yet another article scolding wingers for being unyielding ideologues (it’s the Jay Nordlinger NRO piece, to save you the click-through).
Lately, I have been more and more impatient with 100-percenters — people who have to agree with someone 100 percent in order to consider him any good. There is very little room for 100-percentism in politics. In other spheres of life, maybe, but not this one.
Occasionally, I will quote someone favorably in my column. And someone will e-mail me, “Yeah, but do you recall what he said on September 8, 1999? Traitor!” That word could refer to me or the fellow I had originally quoted.
Sometimes it seems that no one is ever good enough for us: not 41, not Dole, not 43, not anybody.
That’s grossly unfair, that 100-percenter tag. There are limitless areas where righties can disagree and still call themselves righties. But there is a short list of topics that are core beliefs. In any cohesive ideological group, if you dissent from a core belief, you ain’t one of the flock. For that short list of topics…yeah, you have to buy into those 100%. Damn right. Hooty-hoo.
What irritates me even more, though, is the way these guys act like it’s somehow flighty or immature of the base to fall in love with a candidate when he’s talking a good game, but turn on him when he does something grossly unconservative.
Really? Seriously? That’s like saying, “you meet a guy, you fall in love, you take him home to meet the family, and the moment he drops trou and shits on the carpet you act like he’s the antichrist.” Um, duh?
Say, exit question: isn’t it too early to torpedo Christie? Don’t they usually wait until we’re stuck with a bad nominee and tapped out financially before they pull the rug out from under us?
January 13, 2014 — 10:33 pm
This is for real. This really happened. This is not a parody. This thing was tweeted yesterday by Barack Obama’s official Twitter account, appearing under his own name.
See, this is what happens when your communications team is so politically correct, nobody’s willing to tell the designer, “dude, that is the gayest thing I have ever seen.”
Bonus! If you visit barackobama.com/talk, you can find handy instructions for making yourself an insufferable prick over the holidays!
December 18, 2013 — 7:34 pm
So, Barack Obama tweeted this today.
Aw, lookit him, holding his pushy little message standing all Richie Rich in front of a giant gilt-framed oil painting and gold candlesticks with that huge shit-eating grin on his face.
Here’s a big blank copy for you to play with, if you have a mind.
December 12, 2013 — 10:41 pm
Remember the lady in the funeral selfie from yesterday, Helle Thorning-Schmidt? Prime Minister of Denmark? Well, it turns out, before she had that gig, she was a member of the European Parliament.
Presumably that’s where she met and married Stephen Kinnock, who worked in and around Brussels before taking a gig with the World Economic Forum — one of those institutions that gives conspiracy nuts hives.
His qualifications include being the son of Glenys Kinnock, former Member of the European Parliament, former Minister for Europe and former Minister of State for Africa and the United Nations.
Her qualifications include being the wife of Neil Kinnock, leader of the UK Labour party from
1999 to 2004 1994 to 2007. Actually, that’s pretty much it. That’s all of her qualifications right there.
Oh wait, ‘scuse me, beg pardon, I misspoke. That should be Baron and Baroness Kinnock.
In the bad old days, they called this guy, the guy in the picture with the shiny boots, the Uncle of Europe. Because every throne in the West was sat on or next to by a child of his mama. That didn’t work out so hot.
But don’t you worry, the modern European ruling class is totally different — Neil Kinnock’s dad was a coal miner, for cri-yi. I’m sure it’ll turn out much better this time.
p.s. You may remember Neil Kinnock as the man from whom Slow Joe Biden borrowed a few colorful phrases — and bits of personal biography — in his 1988 presidential run.
— 12:21 am
Look at these guys. Look at ‘em!
Cameron, Helle Thorning-Schmidt (Prime Minister of Denmark) and Obama, grinning like frat boys at Mandela’s funeral and popping off a selfie. I suspect these guys are going to regret this snippet of bad optics going down in history.
Amateurs. Remember when a camera caught Clinton laughing as he came out of Ron Brown’s funeral, and he immediately made a boo-hoo face and wiped away a tear? That’s how you politick, gentlemen. (Bonus: that YouTube describes a paranoid theory of Ron Brown’s death I’d totally forgotten).
Embarrassing — my source for this image is Imgur — where it’s been posted, like, fifty times today. Imgur: the biggest little time suck on the internet (if you’re a lookin’-at-the-pictures kindofa weasel).
December 10, 2013 — 6:29 pm