'So, so, so weird'
I had the same reaction watching the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics. A number of times, I found myself muttering to myself and friends, "It's so over the top. ... It's so long. ... It's something you'd expect to see at an American Games, not London. ... It's an out-of-control wedding. ... It's cornier than the worst Superbowl halftime shows. ... Has Paul McCartney played yet?" Etc., etc.
But it was also weirdly entertaining. It veered from Druids to a Socialist Realism ode to industrial workers to flying Mary Poppins to James Bond escorting the Queen from Buckingham Palace and ... So, so, so weird.
Fyi: I'm no fan of the Olympics, so maybe that's coloring my view of last night's opening ceremonies. The American TV networks wrecked the Olympics for me a long time ago, turning them from sporting events into individual Personal Drama snippets. ... She overcame low self-esteem caused by bad teeth in desperate need of orthodontic care. ... He was poised to become an Olympian. But first he had to confront his past: two pot-smoking high-school friends who loved Def Leppard and constantly tempted him away from discipline and his destiny. ... Oh well.
Andrew Sullivan reassesses Obama’s “you-didn’t-build-it”
remark and concludes it was a major blunder that plays right into the Republicans’
hands – and it was and it does. From AS:
I don't find the (“you-didn’t-build-it”)
argument that offensive. It's pretty obviously true. But what was wrong about
it, I realize upon reflection, was the tone. It was condescending; it was
rhetorically hostile to an imaginary entrepreneur complaining about class
warfare. And that rhetorical aggression effectively - and unnecessarily -
alienates anyone who has ever built a business or made a success of herself. I
doubt Obama would have used those words in a composed speech - the
speechwriters and the president himself would have red-flagged the
construction. ... But ...
Update - Obama's approval rating among business owners has fallen -- and it happened before his "you-didn't-build-it" comment. Expect it to fall further. ... Via Instapundit.
¶ 7:22 AM
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Obama's non-Chicago style politics
Finally, someone's said it: Obama isn't your classic Chicago-style politician, despite the criticism from those on the right who usually refer to his "Chicago way" in ominous tones. The best way to put it: Obama's politics are to Chicago politics what Cambridge politics are to Boston politics. Not even close. ... Fyi: Actually, an argument can be made that politics in Illinois towns and cities outside of Chicago are as nasty, if not nastier, than the politics within Chicago's city limits. Evidence A and B: The corruption convictions and imprisonment of the past two governors of Illinois, one a good-'old-boy Republican from downstate, the other a classic Dem hack from Chicago, both wheeling and dealing within state government, not City Hall. ... Now if Obama's critics started to ominously refer to his "Illinois-style politics," I'd have no objection. A former state legislator, he did launch his presidential campaign in Springfield, Illinois, not Chicago, when Blago still held the reins of state government and, of course, most importantly, its no-bid contracts.
Celts pay a heavy price for Courtney Lee
I'm glad Courtney Lee is joining the Celts. He's another great off-season addition by Danny and Doc. But doesn't it strike you that the Celts gave up rather a lot for him? Just scratching my head over this one. ... But I'm not going to scratch too much. The Celts will have one hell of a back court this season, both before and after Avery's return.
¶ 8:39 AM
Thanks for the memories, Gino
Gino Cappelletti is finally calling it quits as the radio color-man for Pats radio broadcasts. His soft, smooth and calm voice was the complete opposite of many of today's side-kick broadcast announcers. But it worked because he knew what he was talking about and he wasn't afraid to point out when the Pats were stinking the house out. I'll long associate his and Gil's voices with the Pats, sort of the way I can still hear Johnny Most calling Celts games. They were fun and fond days. ... Btw: Gino was the target of some rather vicious attacks a short while back for obviously getting some names and facts wrong as he grew older. The criticism could have been delivered more gently and diplomatically. Of course, it wasn't. In my view, Gino showed he had more class simply by plowing ahead as best as he could amid all the troll nastiness.
¶ 8:31 AM
Friday, July 20, 2012
Romney's effective counter punch
This is a really good ad, proving that Romney can and will punch back at President Obama's attacks. ... I'm almost stunned that Obama used Elizabeth Warren's line about how business owners really don't succeed at business on their own. Technically, Obama and Warren are right, if you consider the public roads and bridges and schools and fire houses and all the other things that make up a functioning society and that allow businesses and others to thrive. Society really isn't divided into "producers" and "moochers," in the ugly Randian view of the world. But they're also technically wrong not to give entrepreneurs and business owners credit, because it does take a certain spirit and strong character to start and grow a business, taking on risks and sweating over the details that workers often don't see. The way he's phrasing it, President Obama's attacks are coming across as openly hostile to business, both big and small, when the issue is really about certain types of businesses (i.e. financial firms) that have grossly distorted the idea of free enterprise. Romney was part of that financial world. But Obama is allowing himself to be dragged into a simplistic battle over whether capitalism is good or bad. This is exactly what Republicans want. The president is giving it to them on a platter. ... This is going to be one hell of a close race, btw.
Update – BK sends in this piece making similar points about
the Obama-Warren connection. … Paul Krugman mocks the plutocrats who are
whining about the president’s remarks. OK, bash away at the financial plutocrats.
They deserve it. But here’s the problem: The president doesn’t seem to be
distinguishing between plutocrats and other business owners. Again, he's letting the issue turn into a simplistic thumbs-up or thumbs-down debate about capitalism, when he should really be blasting away at the crony capitalists who are corrupting capitalism. The Republicans are loving it, and, guaranteed, they'll be soon whipping out their Road to Serfdom and Atlas Shrugged quotes. See post below for the type of hysterical doomsday rants that will accompany attacks on the president. ... P.S. - Does the president have a clue that a lot of small business owners despise the breaks government regularly gives to big businesses, especially Wall Street?
Update II -- Here they come (all two of them): Emails to moi about how this post and the post below "contradict" themselves. Hub Blog's quickie response: They don't. I'm fascinated, not to mention mildly appalled, by the hair-trigger, apocalyptic response by some conservatives to any suggestion that capitalism may be flawed and in need of reforms. Even if the president's rhetoric gets out of hand (and it has), it's still ridiculous to assert we're headed down the path toward a police state and Soviet gulags, etc.
Update III -- Dan has an good post about the "making it alone" types. As it turns out, it seems one of them has made it with more than a little help from the government. But I disagree with Dan a bit. I think the president's rhetoric has gone too far. No so far as to justify apocalyptic predictions of tyranny to come. But he's using too broad a brush to describe businesses -- and many small-business owners are independents whose votes he desperately needs. Tactically, he's got to avoid the overarching debate of whether business owners do or don't need government. That's fighting on the GOP's turf. He needs to hammer away at financiers who get the bailouts, special Fed loan rates, lower tax rates and other huge perks that are perverting the concept of free enterprise. That's the populist -- and legitimate -- issue to focus on.
The Inverse Marxists are back -- and warning of revolution!
Here’s a near-perfect example of the type of doomsday hysteria on the right tied to anyone who dares to criticize business, modern
capitalism, etc., etc., and how it will all turn out after the coming “Armageddon style collapse”:
Then we just
finish our journey on the road to serfdom. We totally become a
totalitarian, centrally planned, police-type state, where Constitutional rights
go out the window. And really the only thing you can do as an American is
We might have to
have a violent revolution years in the future or maybe our children or
grandchildren will have to fight for their freedom...
What, no Ayn Rand
references? … It’s almost sophomoric: Read “Road to Serfdom” and “Atlas
Shrugged” in college or at some other impressionable time and – presto! – you have
your “world view” for life, not unlike lefties who never change their “world
view” after their introductory Marx classes, and all facts, thereafter and
forever more, flow steadily toward confirmation of
the adopted belief system. … I particularly like the “violent revolution years”
reference; it’s more proof of the ‘Inverse Marxist’ phenomenon unfolding on the
far right. … Hmmm. Who will be their future Che Guevra? They’ll come up
with one. Mark my words. They’ll find a heroic John Galt figure, a romanticized
real one, not the fictional one, and they’ll put him or her on T-shirts too, then
whine that the media won’t treat their icon the way it treats the left’s icon.
Mark my words on that one too: They'll whine.
Bill James talks ... Penn State football?
Bill James knows his baseball. He obviously does not know much about certain subjects beyond baseball. ... You see, the sex-abuse scandal that's tarnished the reputation of Papa Joe at Penn State is really the media's fault!... If I recall correctly, a few in-denial types said roughly the same thing about the church hierarchy during the Catholic Church's sordid sex-abuse saga. But we won't go there. ...
¶ 9:37 AM
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Doc Rivers: Blunt to the core
I was poking around various sites to get my summer fix of Celts news, now that they're loaded up with so much young talent, and I just stumbled across this minor article about the Orlando Summer League. At the end, in a throwaway bullet item, Doc Rivers is asked about the play of Jajuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore. He basically dumped on them. But it wasn't harsh criticism. It was analytical criticism. There's a difference. He just quickly dissected their strengths and weaknesses and left no doubt he wasn't overly impressed. Then it was off to his charity golf tournament. ... His bluntness is refreshing, and almost a little scary. He's certainly no Mr. Sensitive with young players. ... Speaking of the Orlando Summer League, I don't recall summer-league play getting as much attention in the past as it has this year. I even saw the Celts-Pistons game, played in the Magic's high-school-gym-like practice facility, on TV at a local restaurant the other day. Granted, it was NBA.TV and it was a classic dog-day-of-summer afternoon. Not much else was on. But there were a bunch of people watching the game while eating lunch, commenting on the Celts' rookies and prospects this season, etc. Quickie conclusion: There's surprisingly strong off-season interest in the Celts this year. They've made some sharp moves since the 2011-2012 season ended. ... Needless to say, the dismally dull performance of the Sox this year is also contributing to fan interest drifting elsewhere.
¶ 6:06 AM
Friday, July 13, 2012
Dear Republicans: There's hope yet for Mitt. I have the proof
Hey, all you conservative types now down on Mitt’s lackluster campaign and his prospects for beating Obama in November: History shows he can overcome his own self-defeating inclination to run truly wretched campaigns. I have proof. … Yes, I speak of none other than Romney’s “Ann” commercial from 2002, the one I was talking about yesterday. Believe me, it’s as bad as I remembered it from ten years ago, when Mitt was running for governor of Massachusetts and “Ann” ran over and over and over again on local TV stations, alarming and depressing even his most ardent supporters. It was as if the cast of the Brady Bunch Movie had been set loose in Massachusetts – in the guise of the Romney campaign. Mitt’s poll numbers didn’t start to improve until after his campaign dumped this jaw-dropper and started punching away at his opponent and the Democratic establishment on Beacon Hill. And the rest is gubernatorial history -- and maybe, just maybe, history is repeating itself. … A big thanks to Kevin for finding the lost “Ann” gem.
¶ 6:35 AM
Thursday, July 12, 2012
But here's Mitt's real problem for the day
It's not the silly alleged photo gaffe. The far more important story is this piece about how Bain Capital claimed in filings that Romney served as chief executive for much longer than what Mitt has publicly stated. It could be a case of him technically not being an active CEO after 1999. But in that case, isn't a CEO supposed to be active and so why name him in SEC filings as chief executive? ... Also, I didn't know he was the sole shareholder of Bain Capital.
Update -- From Reader AM:
"sole shareholder." This doesn't seem to jibe with story about how
Mitt was persuaded to run it. (These professional outfits are strange, though;
my son works for a law firm that has both "partners" and
"shareholders.") Clearly he wasn't the "real" CEO in 2002,
and I wonder if he wasn't the real owner either -- if Bain Capital was
structured on paper differently from its actual structure. If so, I assume this
might reopen some tax issues.
And I agree with Reader AM. It's a strange set up. He obviously wasn't the day-to-day CEO, especially during the Olympics or earlier running against Ted or later getting ready to run in 2002. The partnership/titles structures at these firms can be a little confusing and misleading at times. Let's see how this pans out. ... Andrew Sullivan makes some decent points. But here's the thing: There are a lot of retired CEOs who sit on boards and become quasi-active with other firms -- and they all call it "business." And it is business. It's just not necessarily full-time business for them. So what else are they going to call it? It'd be dishonest not to call it business.
Mitt's Jet-Ski gaffe? What Jet-ski gaffe? Over at the WSJ, they're worried that recent photos of Mitt vacationing in N.H. -- including one of him on a jet ski with his wife -- amount to one big campaign gaffe, comparable even to Dukakis's Snoopy Tank Ride Photo. Maybe I'm out of it. But I found the Mitt photos refreshing then and now -- and I'm no big fan of Mitt's. OK, the photos show he's having a grand old time while there's still a lot of economic misery going around, blah, blah, blah. But the vast majority of Americans were doing roughly the same damn thing on the Fourth. And use of the gas-guzzling, politically incorrect jet ski probably helped Mitt more than hurt him. Americans love their cars, power boats and other motorized gadgets. It wasn't as if he was wind surfing -- sooooo hip -- on Nantucket.
But methinks the real issue here is not some bogus photo gaffe. That's classic insider politics, built on BS campaign cliches of yesteryear. What this really points to -- the criticism, that is -- is the general frustration with Mitt's lackluster campaign and his etch-a-sketch softening positions on the issues. It's driving conservatives nuts. They're in the early stages of panic. My own hunch is Mitt will ramp it up soon, probably around August. Those of us who remember his 2002 campaign for governor can recall the frustration of his late summer/early fall campaign antics. Remember those awful TV commercials meant to introduce him and his family to Massachusetts voters? As they say: OMG. They were hideous.* He practically had to be brow-beaten into taking on the Three Amigos of O'Brien, Trav and Sal. When he finally did, he clicked with voters. Obviously, Mitt ain't running against Shannon this time. But it does seem his summer campaign history is sort of repeating itself.
* If some one finds a link to one those 2002 commercials, send it my way, please. I want to see if they're as bad as I remember them.
Update -- Found the 2002 "I wish I lived in Massachusetts" commercial. It's pretty bad. But it's not the schmaltzy one I'm thinking of, i.e. how he met his wife, etc. Maybe I have the wrong campaign year or even the wrong candidate. But I do remember a lot of bad feel-good commercials in '02.
What timing: Avery Bradley to undergo another operation
Oh, great. The day after Ray Allen leaves the Celts, it’s announced the guy
who’s supposed to replace him is going to have another operation. The Celts
were hinting at this earlier, letting it be known Avery Bradley wouldn’t be
back until late in the calendar year. The suggestion was that his recovery was
taking a bit longer than thought. But there was a little more to it than that: Bradley needs
more surgery. … Ugh. … Still think the Celts made the tough decision concerning
Allen, etc. But …
Speaking of Ray, I’m a little surprised by this story about the
alleged “stunned” management reaction to Allen’s departure and how they “honestly never envisioned” him
leaving for the Heat. My reaction: Oh, c’mon. They’re not stunned. They tried
trading him a couple times last season. They were willing to let him play
second-string behind Bradley before Bradley got hurt. They didn’t fall over
themselves trying to re-sign Allen, and the talk of Ray heading to the Heat has
been all over the newspapers and airwaves for weeks. To top it all off, the
Celts signed Jason Terry last week, just as Allen began visiting other teams. The
Celts knew what was likely going to happen. Maybe Danny and Doc are trying to come across as stunned, perhaps for internal and external PR reasons. But Ray's departure is actually one of the least
surprising off-season moves by a Boston sports star in recent memory.
'Painfully official’: Ray Allen headed to the Heat
All I can say is:
Thanks, Ray Allen. It was a great five years. He was one of the classier players
to ever wear a Celts uniform. He helped to haul up another banner in the
Garden, and he played a critical role in keeping the Celts a formidable
championship contender right up until last month’s seventh game of the NBA’s
Eastern Conference finals. He still has a few good years in him. Don’t be
surprised to see him play a completely different – and possibly more brilliant
– game in Miami. Recall his recent All-Star appearances representing the Celts;
his style changed for those games and it was astonishing to watch how he still dominated
the young ones. The ultimate Celtics-fan nightmare: Ray drilling a clutch three-pointer in an Eastern Conference playoff game against the Celts next year.
But you knew the
Celts – and Allen – never really expected him to come back next season. The
Celts had tough decisions to make. They made them. Allen also had tough
decisions to make. And he made them too.
The Celts’ $6 million offer to Allen -- more than what the Heat will be
paying him -- was probably a sincere move to keep him. But you also got the
sense the Celts knew he wouldn’t take it, and so the offer had that
fan-directed PR tinge to it. The Celts made clear, and rightly so, that Allen’s
role here would have to permanently change, with Avery Bradley coming back and
now Jason Terry coming off the bench as sixth-man guard. Allen’s primary role
would have been, effectively, seventh-man guard and insurance against future
injuries. It would have been a great set-up for the Celts. But not for Allen, who
still wants to shine and play as much as possible.
The guy’s going
to be missed.
Update -- OK, I like Jeff Green a lot and hope the Celts sign him. But some of the numbers I've been hearing on the radio -- $8 million a year? -- sound absurdly high. ... Overall, I'm pumped about the Celts. Not only do they have rookies Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph, but don't forget that JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore are almost de facto rookies, considering they played no summer league and had an abbreviated training camp last year, due to the NBA lockout. One assumes that, of the five, at least two of them, maybe three, ought to make it big in the league. Sure, the team will still rely on veterans Pierce, Garnett and now Terry. But this team is also locked and loaded with young talent. When was the last time you heard that about the Celts?
President Obama's really bad day
Mitt Romney's really bad week (see posts below) officially ended with today's jobs report. Not good for Obama, whose post-SCOTUS-decision glow is quickly and predictably fading. ... Speaking of ObamaCare, some conservatives are beginning to argue that running against ObamaCare may not be the political winner that many conservatives think. If true, that means the economy will take on even more importance in the election -- and the numbers released today simply don't add up for Obama. Not even close.
¶ 8:56 AM
Thursday, July 05, 2012
Message to Mitt: Obama isn't Shannon O'Brien
RE the post below: Tall Reader writes in, with a little psycho-babble analysis throw in (and nothing against psycho-babble analysis - I do it all the time):
Mitt must have
been one tough mofo in the business world to amass such a fortune – there are plenty of anointed sons who never amounted to anything, and Mitt was not one of
But you’d think
that coming up as a Republican in MA would have given him some gumption, some
fight. Instead it seems to have imbued in him a an infuriating equanimity where
nothing seems to get him riled –and a compulsive need to avoid political
attacks on issues at all costs. In his political experience, in Massachusetts,
once the drumbeat starts, there is no one to go to, no one to bail you out. It
was a one message state, echoed by most of the local media outlets – He had to finesse things at all times and craft
messages delicately. He seems to have carried this lesson to the national
stage. Why doesn’t he seem to understand that America respects a fighter, even
if they don’t always like your message. He wants to be liked, and seems to be
baffled as to why he isn’t, so he tries extra hard.
I sense that he
seems to think that he can recreate his greatest political triumph – his
trouncing of Shannon O’Brien in the sit-down debate – in the same way he beat
her. He was more even tempered, more reasonable, and yes dammit, more likeable.
Shannon was gruff, entitled, arrogant, ideological not likeable. He sensed the
people warm to him, and it swayed the vote his way. I can understand, at some level,
why he has ingrained this tactic in his public personality. The problem is that
Obama may be arrogant, ideological, entitled too, but he’s smooth and generally
likeable – why doesn’t he see this?
As for Murdoch,
Laura Ingraham and other conservatives who have urged him to take up the fight
( any fight ), I believe they think they are rallying him as much as they are
They don’t think
it is too late or they wouldn’t jump on him, and they will give him plenty of
love once he starts running things in a way they can approve – This is much the
same way the journalistic left jumped on Obama late spring, or really until
last Wednesday. But for both camps, when the game clock is running past half
time, they can point to this past criticism as evidence of their objectivity,
and bust out the pom-poms until election day.
Ouch! WSJ compares Mitt to John Kerry
Rubert Murdoch, who has been critical of Mitt Romney’s
campaign staff and style, let his Wall Street Journal uncork today on the likely
GOP nominee’s initial refusal, via his spokesmen, to call the ObamaCare individual-mandate
penalty a “tax,” as the Supreme Court has called it. But of course, the Romney
camp has now shifted gears. So Romney has managed now to achieve a negative
threefer: A.) He’s angered his GOP base by throwing a good issue to the side.
B.) Let Obama off the hook by throwing away a good issue. C.) Given ammo
to those who say’s he’s an incurable flip-flopper like, as the WSJ suggests,
John Kerry. … But fear not, alleged conservatives: William Kristol has the
perfect rationale for you to get through the elections, i.e. look-the-other-way
partisanship, similar to what the conservative “movement” did through most of
last decade when a sitting GOP president and Republican-dominated Congress
acted like Democrats:
shouldn’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. The trees are the tactical
and rhetorical missteps of the Romney campaign, and the problems posed by
Romney’s Massachusetts record,” said conservative William Kristol.
forest, which matters much, much more, is that Obamacare is unpopular, and
Romney opposed it and will repeal and replace it.”
Classic. It's all about winning elections. Principles? Who needs stinkin' principles!
Happy B-Day, America!
You might have seen the HBO "Newsroom" put-down of the idea of American exceptionalism. Some people typically cheered its negative "honesty." But I don't think it was honest as long as it didn't cover the flip-side of America as well. Courtesy of BusinessInsider, take a gander at these stats about America. The ones about our productivity, R&D, Nobel prizes, immigration and universities are the most impressive in my mind. And that's just the economic side of the country's pluses. It doesn't cover all the intangible freedoms and other benefits we're blessed to have here. And, really, what other country could produce such poignant, high-minded art like this? End of argument, Sorkin. ... Have a happy Fourth! You've earned it.
I stared and stared at the photo and kept thinking, "That's Mitt Romney?" I don't recall ever seeing a photo like this of him. Then it hit me: It's the hair. His hair isn't in the '80s slicked back, Gordon Gecko-business style that we've grown accustomed to over the years. He looks much younger, relaxed, and ... happy and normal. His campaign staff should let people see this side of him a little more. ... P.S. - He has a striking resemblance to someone I know -- and someone I never in a million years would have associated with Mitt Romney. P.S.P.S. -- No Kerry Wind Surfing/Dukakis In The Tank debacle in this photo shoot. It's all: See Mitt in huge motor boat. See Mitt on Jet Ski. It's Very Typical American Consumer stuff.
¶ 4:00 AM
Sunday, July 01, 2012
'Hurray for KG!'
From Reader No.
1: "He returns! For 3 years! Now - what happens
to Ray? The Heat want him. ESPN's John Hollinger
has one scenario enabling the Celts to go out and
get OJ Mayo. Luis Scola would be a fine addition if we could make it work."
... Two words of advice from Hub Blog: Sign Mayo.