The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Happy birthday, car

I can scarcely believe I've had this guy for 10 years:

The car is named João, because he's from Brazil, and he seemed kind of like a Joe: He's a little rough around the edges, he's fun to hang out with, and he's super-reliable—except for the occasional hangover.

The photo is from the day after I got him. He's scarcely aged. (See, for example, this shot from last February. You can kind of see the dings, but he's still got a good profile.)

Unfit for public office, but fun to have in the race

Robert Wright secretly loves Newt's candidacy:

The horror I feel when I imagine Newt assuming a position of responsibility can give way to melancholia if I contemplate the prospect of life without the feisty, aging smurf. Here are some things I'll miss should anyone ever succeed in driving a stake through Gingrich's heart...

Newt boldly goes where no aspiring president has gone before. He has pledged that as president he would support something that he (who else?) dreamed up as a congressman: "the northwest ordinance for space," which says that, once you have 13,000 Americans on the moon, the moon can apply for statehood.

The problem isn't the conundrums this would raise. (With one senator per 6,500 moon residents, would lunar interests be overrepresented in Congress? Or might this effect be partly offset by the difficulty senators would have flying home to take the pulse of their constituents on three-day weekends?) The problem, rather, is that this sounds like a crazy person talking!

What's not to like?

Unfit for public office

Without Andrew Sullivan, I might miss some of the more outrageous events in public discourse. Take, for example, the Kansas House Speaker—i.e., the leader of the legislative branch of one of the states here in the U.S.—two weeks ago not-so-subtly called for the President's death:

"Pray for Obama. Psalm 109:8." That's the slogan an email from [Kansas House Speaker Mike O'Neal (R-Hutchinson) to his Republican colleagues] refers to, a phrase that's become popular in some circles on bumper stickers and other merchandise. The bible passage itself reads, "Let his days be few; and let another take his office." The real controversy arises in the next verse of Psalm 109, however, which continues, "May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow."

In a message accompanying the email, O'Neal writes:

"At last -- I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up -- it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!"

Where to begin? I am overwhelmed.

Let's start with Exodus 20:13, yes? But no—you don't need a commandment from a deity to know this one is wrong, even if you're Mike O'Neal.

All right then, how about 18 USC 871? Again, though, that's an appeal to authority, which isn't entirely logical. I mean, if O'Neal were a three-year-old or a dog, a firm correction would help establish appropriate boundaries of behavior. But he's neither, which is unfortunate, because that means Kansans might be stuck with him as the guy representing their state to the outside world, whereas were he a toddler, he could be brought inside and made to stand in a corner until he grew up.

Golden rule, then? Appeal to self-interest (don't make threats against other people lest they make threats against you)? Appeal to politics (you hurt your cause by making statements like that in public)?

Ultimately, I don't think any appeals, logical or illogical, will work in this case. Mike O'Neal has demonstrated that he's not fit to hold public office in the United States. But we live in a republic; his district in Kansas elected him to the state house; and his colleagues elected him to speak for them. So let me broaden the question somewhat, and ask the people of the Kansas 104th: do you really want this guy speaking for you? If so, what the hell's the matter with you?

Now, O'Neal has apologized since the initial incident. But that doesn't diminish my point. He displayed contempt for republican ideals, contempt for democracy, and contempt for common sense with his email. He should not hold public office anywhere in this country.

Hathos in endorsements

Andrew Sullivan defines "hathos" as "the attraction to something you really can't stand; it's the compulsion of revulsion." This qualifies. Yesterday I noted that Bob Dole's assessment of Newt Gingrich told you all you need to know about Gingrich. Not so fast! Herman Cain has weighed in, changing nothing of the result, but providing some comic relief:

“I hereby officially and enthusiastically endorse Newt Gingrich for president of the United States,” Cain said in a brief speech at the Palm Beach County GOP Party Lincoln Day Dinner in West Palm Beach, Fla.

“There are several reasons, many reasons, as to why I have reached this public decision,” he said. “I had it in my heart and mind a long time ago.”

“One of the biggest reasons is the fact that I know that Speaker Gingrich is a patriot,” Cain said. “Speaker Gingrich is not afraid of bold ideas. And I also know that Speaker Gingrich is running for president, and going through this sausage grinder -- I know what this sausage grinder is all about. I know that he’s going through this sausage grinder because he cares about the future of the United States of America. We all do.”

Cain's address to the Florida GOP was entitled, "Incoherency."

All you need to know about Newt

Via Sullivan, a snippet of conversation between Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich in the 1990s:

"Why do people take such an instant dislike to me?" asked a perplexed Gingrich, to whom Dole bluntly explained: "Because it saves them time."

In unrelated news, Parker and I are about to walk around in abnormally warm, sunny weather on what is statistically the coldest day of the year in Chicago. This is the warmest winter in 78 years, with the fewest sub-freezing maximum temperatures in 40 years. (Today was above freezing until a cold front edged through this morning; right now it's -1°C.)

Larry and Andrew and Gertie

This came to me from one of the creators, Deena Rubinson, someone I've known since the mid-1990s. It's billed as "the saddest comedy ever," which may be true. It's also well-acted, well-written, and well-edited—which is a lot harder to do than people think. I'm looking forward to episode 4...

How Hollywood blew SOPA

The Hollywood Reporter has a lengthy (for them) description of how big-studio executives' SOPA effort looks, in retrospect, more like Pickett's Charge:

"They didn't understand the politics of the Internet, the power of the Internet, the perception people had of the things they were proposing," says an aide to a congressman who opposed the legislation. "The MPAA and the different lobbying organizations are trying to do it old-school and by the book. They ran into new technologies, new strategies, new techniques. I imagine they're sitting around discussing how they got beat."

The MPAA's [Michael] O'Leary concedes that the industry was outmanned and outgunned in cyberspace. He says the MPAA "is [undergoing] a process of education, a process of getting a much, much greater presence in the online environment. This was a fight on a platform we're not at this point comfortable with, and we were going up against an opponent that controls that platform."

More concisely: they just don't get it. And they probably never will, even after they become irrelevant (see under: record companies).