Patterico's Pontifications

12/23/2013

Tom Friedman: I Don’t Keep Scorecards . . . For Democrats, That Is

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:23 am

Watch New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman on Howard Kurtz’s show. The hypocrisy I want to highlight is at 5:44:

KURTZ: I’m surprised you haven’t written a column saying what a disappointing year he’s had, and perhaps, expressing any frustration.

FRIEDMAN: You know, I tend to take the long view. I really don’t, you know, I mean, I’ve seen —

KURTZ: But does the country have that benefit?

FRIEDMAN: Well, whether we have the benefit or not, we’re gonna have to [crosstalk]

KURTZ: You’re saying that even if Obama — I don’t think even his fiercest defenders would dispute this — he’s had a lousy year, in terms of not getting bills through Congress, in terms of the health care debacle — that you are trying to look beyond that?

FRIEDMAN: Yeah, I’m not a big scorecard guy, I mean, generally, so, you know . . .

Yeah, Thomas Friedman is not a guy who keeps a scorecard.

For Democrats, that is.

For Republicans? You betcha!

Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 10.23.51 PM

No scorecards here!

I was in a restaurant at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport on Sunday, and it had an NCAA basketball game playing on the TV at one end of the bar and the Iraq war on the other. Most people were watching the basketball game — probably because it’s so much easier to keep score. How will we know if we are winning in Iraq?

[Blather follows]

If you see these things happening, you’ll know that the political ends for which this war was launched are being achieved. If you don’t, you’ll know we’re lost in a sandstorm.

Now, I’m not a big scorecard guy, generally, heh heh, you know.

But . . .

The scorecard here is easily read: My anonymous tipster: 1, Friedman: 0.

12/22/2013

Phil Robertson Preaches While Paul Whitefield Crashes and Burns

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:34 pm

Phil Robertson is a heck of a preacher:

I watched this all the way through to the end — which was interesting, because he makes a point of saying Jesus’s name in his prayer . . . and noting how the television show edits it out.

Meanwhile . . . a fellow named Paul Whitefield at the Los Angeles Times preaches his own “wisdom”:

Having grown up living in a trailer — but having never, ever watched “Duck Dynasty” — I feel uniquely qualified to say this: Enough with the trailer-trash TV shows.

. . . .

But I also know the trailer life — been there, done that. I spent a few years crammed into an 8-foot-wide, 50-foot-long trailer with Mom, Dad, two brothers and two sisters. We moved a lot.

Sometimes people didn’t want us; sometimes they used names, like “trailer trash.”

Growing up, my brothers and I (even my baby sister) worked with Dad; he was a pipeline welder. Many of those guys were the salt of the earth, but others could barely read or write. And some of their views, their language, their morals were, to be kind, coarse. What we wanted, and what my parents wanted for us, was to rise above that. So we went to college.

And now I turn on the TV and see that the vulgarity, the racism, the sexism, the crudeness I encountered as a youth is not only being broadcast but celebrated?

No thanks.

Except, you just said you don’t watch it. You “never, ever” watched it.

So, how’s about you shut your pie hole? You’re “uniquely qualified” to show us (along with your co-tool Michael Hiltzik) how embarrassing blue state nincompoops have become.

I sent Whitefield this tweet tonight:

Ah, the irony! We’ll see if he bites. I’ll correct the record after a day or two, but let’s hope he flames out in the interim.

Oh, I read his piece all right. In fact, I think I have read this guy before. Yes, here we go. Paul Whitefield is the guy who wrote this piece in 2007. He thought he was being Jonathan Swift here, as you can tell from the phrase “Modest Proposal” in the headline. (He doesn’t trust you to grasp his cleverness.) Enjoy:

LISTENING TO President Bush’s speech on Iraq earlier this month, my first thought was: “Where the heck are we going to get 21,500 more soldiers to send to Iraq?” Our Reserves are depleted, our National Guard is worn out, our Army and Marine Corps are stretched to the limit.

Then it hit me: Re-up our Vietnam War veterans and send them.

They’re trained. They’re battle-hardened. Many already have post-traumatic stress disorder. Also, some have their own vehicles — Harleys mostly, which are cheap to run, make small targets and are highly mobile. I’ll even bet that lots of these guys still have guns (you know, just in case).

OK, some vets are a bit long in the tooth (or don’t have teeth — because of Agent Orange?). Or their eyesight isn’t what it was. Or their reflexes have slowed. But with today’s modern weaponry, how well do you have to see?

Too out of shape, you say? Listen, if Rocky Balboa can step back into the ring at age 60, all these Vietnam War vets need is a little boot-camp magic and they’ll be good to go. I mean, who doesn’t want to drop a few pounds?

Don’t want geezers fighting for us? Well, let’s face it, our young people have greater value right here. Most of us want to retire and collect our hard-earned Social Security, and we need those youngsters here, working and paying taxes — lots of taxes.

Finally, these Vietnam War guys are hungry for revenge. After all, they fought in the only war the U.S. ever lost. And they didn’t even get a parade. So this is their chance. We can throw them that big parade when they come marching home.

This is who you’re dealing with, OK?

Glenn Gould and Leonard Bernstein Perform the First Brahms Piano Concerto

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:32 pm

Browsing through the Web, I found this interesting recording — interesting not just for the remarkably slow tempo of the performance, but also for the startling and amusing disclaimer Bernstein presents at the beginning of the recording. Essentially, he gives a speech saying: “this wasn’t my idea.”

My view is that music should generally be played at the tempo that the composer indicated (not, as here, at half that tempo). Conductors are notorious for ignoring such directions, though. Almost nobody plays the first movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony at the relatively breakneck pace indicated, Bernstein included. (They also throw in the occasional unindicated rallentando, start a crescendo in the wrong place, and so forth.) I once almost wrote Leonard Bernstein, in fact, over the absurd way that he raced into the next movement of a symphony (I can’t remember which one off the top of my head) ignoring a rest with a fermata (meaning the rest should be extra long). Instead of an extra long rest, he had no rest at all. I wanted to ask him if he understood what a fermata is intended to indicate.

So it’s not like Bernstein wasn’t given to his own, er interpretations. Still, this speech is remarkable — as is the performance . . . at least, what you can hear of it over the incessant coughing.

12/21/2013

Ken White on Free Speech

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:21 pm

This is a thought-provoking post. Being on a phone, I cannot easily quote it; you should read it all. I agree with many of Ken’s points, especially about the selective outrage we see on both sides of the political aisle.

Where I think I diverge from Ken is that I believe I am slightly less willing than he is, in general, to defend companies’ decisions to punish speech. I am going to go to the trouble of lifting a quote to make sure he gets his fair say:

2. The phrase “the spirit of the First Amendment” often signals approaching nonsense. So, regrettably, does the phrase “free speech” when uncoupled from constitutional free speech principles. These terms often smuggle unprincipled and internally inconsistent concepts — like the doctrine of the Preferred+ First Speaker. The doctrine of the Preferred First Speaker holds that when Person A speaks, listeners B, C, and D should refrain from their full range of constitutionally protected expression to preserve the ability of Person A to speak without fear of non-governmental consequences that Person A doesn’t like. The doctrine of the Preferred First Speaker applies different levels of scrutiny and judgment to the first person who speaks and the second person who reacts to them; it asks “why was it necessary for you to say that” or “what was your motive in saying that” or “did you consider how that would impact someone” to the second person and not the first. It’s ultimately incoherent as a theory of freedom of expression.

….

6. Companies make decisions about hiring and firing based on both money and company culture. Sometimes these decisions are “right” in the sense that the decisions accurately predict what outcome will please the most customers and advertisers and keep revenues up. Sometimes the decisions are New Coke. Often the stated reasons for the decisions are hypocritical bullshit, as in the case of A&E. That’s the way it works. Discussions about corporate decisions in the wake of controversy are dominated by (1) people who normally excoriate corporate decision-making but suddenly applaud it when the outcome suits their political beliefs, and (2) people who normally celebrate the market and promote the privilege of corporate decision-making but suddenly find it unpalatable when it produces a result that offends their politics. Some of the people applauding A&E are people who last week were furious at the concept that companies have First Amendment rights. Some of the people trying to conflate A&E and the government are people who last week were vigorously arguing that companies should not have to insure birth control if it offends their religious sensibilities.

Now, that is not all Ken says, and he calls for charity, mercy, and consistency.

I agree that companies firing people for speech is not a “First Amendment” issue — but I disagree that invoking the “spirit of the First Amendment” is a signal that bullshit is on the horizon. I worry that we are creating a culture where any provocative expression renders one subject to being disciplined or fired, such that (as Ace notes on Twitter) only those who are unemployed or self-employed (or, I would add, have tenure or employers who reliably support their speech) have freedom to speak their mind.

What to do about this is not simple. Passing laws is a bad idea, I think, because it gives companies an incentive to hire only bland personalities who are unlikely to say anything controversial. I think the solution of more speech is the best solution: those who share my concern over the blandification of America should criticize online lynch mobs and companies that bow to them.

We should be consistent about this. I, for one, try to be.

I have a lot more to say about this, but not on a damned iPhone.

12/20/2013

Duck Dynasty Patriarch Suspended Pursuant to “Morals Clause”?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:37 am

Sharp-eyed reader DRJ found this link suggesting that Phil Robertson’s suspension may be authorized by a “morals clause” in his contract:

TheWrap spoke to multiple legal experts who said that, if Robertson’s contract contained a morals clause — as if often the case with on-air talent — than the reality TV star has little in the way of legal recourse.

Often, such morals clauses note that, if talents speaks or acts in a way that insults or denigrates people, the producer reserves the right to suspend or terminate that talent.

And typically, defining such language or actions is left to the discretion of the studio — basically, “if we say it is so, it is.” Tough to mount a legal argument against that.

“My guess is that they [suspended Robertson] on the basis of a morality clause,” one entertainment attorney told TheWrap on Wednesday. “Once you sign a reality show contract, they own you.”

Entertainment attorney Neville Johnson also noted that talent agreements generally tend to favor the networks. “If you see these talent agreements, they basically say they can do everything except torture you,” Johnson said.

Meanwhile, TMZ has unearthed this 2010 video of Robertson saying essentially the same sorts of things about the alleged immorality of homosexuality.

TMZ takes the position that A&E had to know about this before the series started. Maybe, and then again, maybe not. They can still do pretty much whatever they want to do. It will be interesting to see what effect it all has on their bottom line.

Finally, DRJ notes that Robertson has been saying for some time he is tired of doing the show. It could be that the family decides to go on, because he wanted out anyway, and/or because they have little legal recourse. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

Woman Who Leaves Small Children Alone In House, Which Catches Fire, Expresses Concern . . . About Her Food Stamp Card

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:37 am

When I saw the tweet above, I thought: no. Something here has to be exaggerated. Well, it’s not clear from the clip (which appears to be about a month old) that the kids died . . . but the callousness of this aunt cannot be overstated.

From NaturallyMoi.com comes a clip of one of the most callous people you will ever see. Watch all the way to the end of the two-minute clip or you’ll miss the most grotesque part:

Note that she and her sister both needed to take the “dude” home, leaving the kids home alone. But the jaw-dropping part is how she does, indeed, seem to care more about her food stamp card than these kids.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that I don’t really want this woman to have food stamps.

12/19/2013

Duck Dynasty Family: We Can’t Imagine Going Forward Without Phil Robertson

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:40 pm

So one side says, hey, Phil Robertson had a right to say what he said about gay people. True enough.

And the other side says, OK, and A&E had a right to suspend an employee that embarrassed them. Also true.

You know what else is true? The family has a right to say: hey, maybe we don’t want to do this show any more:

We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support. The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E’s decision. We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word. While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Phil would never incite or encourage hate.We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right.We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty. Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.

Anybody who didn’t see this coming, was not thinking it through. This seemed obvious to me the second I heard about it. Maybe the A&E people are surprised by it, because maybe the A&E people don’t quite get family bonds.

Or maybe they do. Maybe A+E Networks is fully prepared to throw the whole show overboard, even though it is a ratings smash and their strongest-performing property.

After all . . . that is their right.

P.S. Technically, the family’s “right” to quit may be burdened by contractual obligations. Don’t get all technical on me.

P.P.S. Anyway, it’s hard for me to look at a picture of the guy

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On indefinite hiatus

without thinking of one of my favorite Norm MacDonald jokes. Imagine the joke being said in Norm MacDonald’s voice:

“Every girl’s crazy about a sharp dressed man. But you know what every girl’s not crazy about? Long gross beards!”

We Don’t Need Congress – ObamaCare Fiascos

Filed under: General — JD @ 6:39 pm

[guest post by JD]

Edicts from on high

There is no limit to their lawlessness. And if they thought they had a bad mix of not-really-enrollees before, imagine what this will do to the mix.

Just like their “suggestions” of retroactive coverage, and accepting premiums up to the night before coverage is to begin, and covering not covered drugs, and paying in network rates for out of network providers, etc ….

I wonder if the MFM will call them out on the BE 500,000 not yet insured number. Nah.

—JD

Pajama Boy: Everything That Is Wrong With the World

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:55 am

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This is how Barack Obama sees you, young people. A hipster doofus wearing a onesie and a bemused expression of detached irony as you clutch your steaming hot mug of Nestle’s Quik and contemplate your future of government dependence.

If you don’t have a problem with that, we don’t want your vote.

Duck Dynasty Star Suspended for Comments About Homosexuality

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:27 am

At the end of a slow news week, the controversy of the day is clear. In an interview with GQ Magazine, Duck Dynasty star (star?) Phil Robertson said . . . well, read it for yourself:

Out here in these woods, without any cameras around, Phil is free to say what he wants. Maybe a little too free. He’s got lots of thoughts on modern immorality, and there’s no stopping them from rushing out. Like this one:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

Now, he has been suspended from the show:

“We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty,” A&E said in a statement. “His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

Other than saying Robertson’s views did not reflect their own, spokespeople for A+E Networks did not elaborate further on A+E Networks’ own views of the relative merits of the anatomical features of men and women.

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On indefinite hiatus

P.S. The linked Hollywood Reporter article also claims: “The news comes after Robertson compared homosexuality to bestiality in an interview with the magazine.” From GQ:

“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

If that is a “comparison” then it should be noted that he also “compared” homosexuality to drinking, among other things.

Well this should be interesting, shouldn’t it?

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