Category: Videos

My How Times Have Changed! Or Is It the Media That Has Changed?

By , March 4, 2016 12:28 pm

I’m interested in what you think about the differences between the debates in these two videos, one from 1960 in West Virginia, the other from Detroit just last night. Not in the content so much–that is the policy proposals–but in the quality and type of questions the media poses.

Humphrey-Kennedy Primary Debate in West Virginia – 1960

 

Republican Primary Debate in Detroit, Michigan – 2016

 

My view? The media plays at least as large a part in creating these disasters we call debates nowadays as the candidates–more, much more, in my opinion. Fox, CNN, NBC. Doesn’t make a difference. Chris Wallace’s opening question, for example, is not worthy of a debate that will help decide who we might choose a president. (I won’t comment, for now, on the difference in the quality and type of questions in the Democratic debates, other than to say, there is a difference.)

The Roman Colosseum-like crowds? Don’t get me started.

Mitt vs. The Donald: The Donald Loses

By , March 3, 2016 10:49 am

LBJ: I Hardly Knew Ye

By , August 29, 2014 9:26 am

I’m reading–well, listening to, anyway–Robert Caro’s Pulitzer prize winning biography of LBJ, a bio he refers to as a study of political power, how to acquire it and how to use it. I’m almost through with the second volume, Means of Ascent. The first volume, Path to Power, which chronicles his life (and his ancestors’s life) up through his years in Congress and his first run at the U.S. Senate–which he lost only because his opponent–literally–bought more votes than he did and then only because Johnson got a little cocky on the day of the election, is an enthralling read. (In case this sentence is a little too complex [a little?], here’s the essence: The first volume is an enthralling read.) The second volume has proved its equal.

Means of Ascent discusses Johnson’s time in the armed services during World War II and his second run for the Senate, an election he literally bought, paid cash for. This comes as no surprise to the reader. At this point in the story, the reader has already read where Johnson stole a student election in college, stole another election for the presidency of an organization of congressional staffers, stole an actual congressional seat, and attempted to steal a Senate seat in a special election.

I’m reminded of a great line from the movie Patton. The great general is facing Rommel in North Africa, and he’s beating him. George C. Scott, as Patton, peers through his binoculars at the unfolding spectacle and says, “Rommel… you magnificent bastard, I read your book!” Methinks more than a few politicians and their operatives have read Caro’s biography of LBJ.

The Art of Denial

By , June 4, 2014 4:44 pm

When the shoe is on the other foot and fits so well . . . you get comedy.

Cross posted from PartialPosts.com

From the Left and the Right on Argument and Collegiality

By , May 31, 2014 7:15 pm

Two recent interviews of two Supreme Court Justices, one on right–Clarence Thomas–and one on the left–Elena Kagan, both in agreement that you can disagree, yet be agreeable.

Here’s Kagan:

In the following video, Thomas also discusses civility on the Court. Because his comments come about 22:30 minutes into the video, I’ve cut and pasted that part of the transcript. Like Kagan, he praises the collegiality of his colleagues. A lesson for the rest of us maybe?

Thomas: You know, it should be mysterious. I can still remember the first time I set foot in that room and those doors closed. I mean, my goodness, it’s pretty daunting the first few times. Because that’s where the actual work and the decision-making takes place. It’s just the nine, there’s no staff, no recording devices. And we vote in descending order of seniority. It is a process in this city, normally when I was a staffer, you always had assistants around. And, people are engaged –they actually talk about the case. They actually tell you what they think and why. You record the votes. And there’s some back and forth– there’s more now. When Chief Justice Rehnquist was here, he moved it along very quickly. Now there’s more back and forth, more discussion. We normally have one break and there’s more discussion, off to the sides, about cases. And to see people who are trying their best to decide hard things and feel strongly about their view of it, is fascinating. And the thing that’s been great is, I just finished my 18th term, and I still haven’t heard the first unkind word in that room. And you think what we’ve decided–life and death, abortion, execution, war and peace, financial ruin, government relationship with citizens. You name it. We’ve decided it. And I still have not heard the first ad hominem in that room. It is an example of what I would have thought decision-making would be at the higher levels of civil government in all parts of our country.

SWAIN: What ensures that decorum?

THOMAS: The human beings on this Court, and people who, in one way or another, one degree or another understand that it’s not about them. It’s about the Constitution, our country, and our fellow citizens, that they don’t take themselves as seriously as they take the work of the Court.

SWAIN: We’ve learned a lot about the many traditions this Court holds and its processes that are passed down from Court to Court. And some of those happen in the conference room, such as the handshake. How important are symbols and traditions to the process that happens here?

THOMAS: I think the handshake, whether you’re in sports or church or other activities, it means something. It still means something. We can sense when somebody’s phony and they don’t mean it. These people, in this room, are genuine. It’s warm and professional. There’s always a handshake before we go on the bench. When we see each other and we haven’t– its the first time during the day– we always make sure to shake hands, whether it’s in public or in private. There’s sort of a sense of courtesy and decency and civility that’s a part of it. On the days that we work, whether we’re on the bench or we are in conference, we go to lunch together. In the early years when I first came here, we had that lunch in a small room off the main dining room. Justice O’Connor insisted that we have lunch every day when we were sitting. And she insisted, “Now Clarence, you should come to lunch.” And she was really sweet, but very persistent. And I came to lunch– and it was one of the best things I did. It is hard to be angry or bitter at someone and break bread and look them in the eye. It is a fun lunch; very little work is done there. It’s just nine people, eight people, whoever shows up having a wonderful lunch together. It is wonderful. So the traditions, I think, are important. It’s like traditions in our society, in our culture. They developed over time for a reason. And it helps sustain us in the other work that we do, I think. They help sustain us.

Here’s a link to the Thomas’s C-Span interview.

Cross posted from GregoryTaggart.com

My Wife’s (Almost) Favorite Song

By , April 30, 2014 9:48 am

For the uninitiated, Alex Boye used to be a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Here he is, this time singing “Goin’s Home” with the Choir.

The Futility of Attempting to Reap What You Failed to Sow

By , October 31, 2013 9:52 am

In a previous post, I told the following story about the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s advice to the Clintons:

Twenty years ago, when he was trying to persuade Bill and Hillary Clinton that universal health care was a politically unrealistic goal, the late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan repeated one insistent warning: Sweeping, historic laws don’t pass barely.’They pass 70-to-30,’ he said, ‘or they fail.’ [Rahm Emanuel gave President Obama similar advice.]

Later I began to wonder, what was the vote on the original Social Security bill? Medicare and Medicaid?

Social Security:

The Ways & Means Committee Report on the Social Security Act was introduced in the House on April 4, 1935 and debate began on April 11th. After several days of debate, the bill was passed in the House on April 19, 1935 by a vote of 372 yeas [including 81 of 102 Republicans], 33 nays, 2 present, and 25 not voting. . . .

The bill was reported out by the Senate Finance Committee on May 13, 1935 and introduced in the Senate on June 12th. The debate lasted until June 19th, when the Social Security Act was passed by a vote of 77 yeas [including 16 of 25 Republicans], 6 nays, and 12 not voting. (Emphasis added)

Medicare and Medicaid:

H.R. 6675, The Social Security Admendments of 1965, began life in the House Ways & Means Committee where it passed the Committee on March 23, 1965 (President Johnson issued a statement in support of the bill after the favorable Committee vote) and a Final Report was sent to the House on March 29, 1965. The House took up consideration of the bill on April 7th, and passed the bill the next day by a vote of 313-115 [including 70 out of 140 Republicans] (with 5 not voting).

The Senate Finance Committee reported the bill out on June 30th and debate began on the Senate floor that same day, concluding with passage on July 9, 1965 by a vote of 68-21 [including 13 out of 32 Republicans] (with 11 not voting). (Emphasis added)

For those without a calculator, Social Security passed with 86% of the vote in the House and 81% in the Senate. Medicare passed with 71% of the vote in the House and 70% in the Senate. Both bills had strong, bi-partisan support. In contrast, the Affordable Care Act garnered just 50.57% of the vote in the House and 60% in the Senate–without a single Republican vote.

I repeat, it was hubris that killed the beast.

Street Contacting with Pzazz

By , October 21, 2013 4:50 pm

Without comment, other than to say that as good as my street contacting was 40 years ago in Brazil–Rio, Vitoria, and Joao Pessoa–I was no match for what these NYC missionaries did.

And that scripture at the end? It’s from The Book of Mormon:

And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and ahappy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are bblessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out cfaithful to the end they are received into dheaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it. (Mosiah 2:41)

Another Headline that Doesn’t Deliver

By , September 4, 2013 11:26 am

I am not an Obama fan. Never have been. But neither am I a fan of headlines and taunts that promise one thing and deliver another. Case in point, the headline at this link and the text beneath it. Compare them with what the President says in the video at the same link.

Note how he even refers to the press conference in which he originally talked about the red line: “When I said, in a press conference, that my calculus about what’s happening in Syria would be altered by the use of chemical weapons . . . ”

Only someone who willfully tries to misunderstand what Obama is saying in that video–the press conference in Sweden–could write the headline and accompanying text. In short, the claims at the link are bald face lies.

Folks, we’re in serious times. We’re at the brink of possible war. Lives are at stake. So, sure, hold the President accountable for what he says and does about Syria, but don’t make stuff up. Now is not the time to score political points based on a willful misunderstanding (aka misrepresentation) of what your political opponent says.

And yes, I’m fully aware that the current occupant of the White House and his sycophants in the media have done similar things to his opponents. Shame on all of them, red and blue.

Two Movies You Probably Missed

By , July 17, 2013 10:41 pm

My wife, step-son Joe, and I were talking movies tonight, and I mentioned two that neither had seen. You probably haven’t either: Trent Harris’s Reuben and Ed and John Candy and Eugene Levy’s little mocumentary gem, The Last Polka.

A spoof of The Band’s rock documentary, The Last Waltz, The Last Polka tells the tale of the Schmenges, Polish brothers who become famous for their polka music. Told with a very straight face, the film includes interviews with 60 and 70-something fans camped out on city sidewalks, hoping to score tickets to the Schmenges’ last polka performance. Catherine and Mary Margaret O’Hara also star, along with Rick Moranis.

Reuben and Ed is harder to describe. The cast includes Howard Hesseman, Karen Black, and Crispin Glover at his weirdest. In an effort to save his marriage to Black, Hesseman has signed up in a multi-level sales company and is desperate to find people for his down line. Crispin Glover agrees to become his first, but only after they bury his dead cat that has laid frozen in his freezer since its death. Once you’ve watched the movie, you’ll never forget the multi-level’s mantra: Power through Positive Real Estate. And you’ll laugh every time you think of the scene in the desert with Hesseman, Glover, the dead cat, and a cooler.

And I’ll leave it at that.


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