There’s a piece in Politico today (a publication that exhibits all that is wrong and twisted about political coverage with its superficial and cynical repackaging of what is pretended to not be conventional wisdom), that says it’s time to do away with the annual State of the Union speech. I could not disagree more.
I will admit that in the hours leading up to the event last night, I was kind of dreading the tediousness of it all; the 75 interruptions for applause with the one side clapping while the other sits on its hands, the requisite heroes in the audience sitting with the First Lady, the tiresome glad-handing and back-slapping that occurs as the cabinet and the Joint Chiefs and the Supremes and, finally, the President, enter the chamber.
But sometimes the event- the speech and its reactions- surprise you.
There were several moments that made it all worth it to me. In every case, it was when unity unexpectedly filled the chamber. Hope for the future of the Republic!
Unity Incident #1: When the President spoke about America as a place that offers unending possibility and opportunity.
It’s how the daughter of a factory worker is CEO of America’s largest automaker; how the son of a barkeeper is Speaker of the House; how the son of a single mom can be President of the greatest nation on Earth.
The line about Speaker John Boehner was classy and it was greeted in the chamber by a standing ovation by both parties. And when the President delivered the line about himself being the son of a single mom, Boehner, in turn, graciously stood and clapped for him.
Unity Incident #2: Ok, granted it was kind of minor, but when the President riffed on the importance of equal pay for equal work he offered this great line:
It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a “Mad Men” episode.
Boehner’s reaction was a genuine smile. Clearly the Speaker has taken in a few episodes of Don Draper, Peggy Olson, Pete Campbell, and company. It was kind of like an athlete tipping his cap to an opponent; a “well-played, sir” kind of thing.
Unity Incident #3
The amazing moment that involved one of the heroes sitting with the First Lady, Army Ranger, Cory Remsburg. It just could not get more poignant:
I first met Cory Remsburg, a proud Army Ranger, at Omaha Beach on the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Along with some of his fellow Rangers, he walked me through the program – a strong, impressive young man, with an easy manner, sharp as a tack. We joked around, and took pictures, and I told him to stay in touch.
A few months later, on his tenth deployment, Cory was nearly killed by a massive roadside bomb in Afghanistan. His comrades found him in a canal, face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain.
For months, he lay in a coma. The next time I met him, in the hospital, he couldn’t speak; he could barely move. Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, and hours of grueling rehab every day.
Even now, Cory is still blind in one eye. He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig, and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger. Day by day, he’s learned to speak again and stand again and walk again – and he’s working toward the day when he can serve his country again.
“My recovery has not been easy,” he says. “Nothing in life that’s worth anything is easy.”
Cory is here tonight. And like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant First Class Cory Remsburg never gives up, and he does not quit.
The applause in the chamber was deafening. And lasted for at least five full minutes. Forgive me for abandoning my usual snarky cynicism, but that, was a deeply moving experience.
And it’s moments like those- the ones that belie the divisions and anger and hatred, that are good for the country to see. Yes, it’s mostly predictable and the ritual, for some, gets annoying. But there’s a, perhaps, naïve side of me that gets damn near misty-eyed when I see Americans standing together united by…anything. We need to see more, not less of that.
Intertrade had rejection of the individual mandate of the health care law a 70% certainty. Most people had followed CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin’s take on the arguments that seemed to have gone so terribly wrong for the White House back in March. And they were all wrong.
President Obama has Chief Justice John Roberts to thank for saving the Affordable Care Act. Astoundingly, Roberts, who has voted 90% of the time with the other four Republican appointees, joined the court’s four liberal justices.
What many apparently discounted, was the extent that Roberts cares about political appearances. It took some intellectual gymnastics, but, in the end, it seems the Chief Justice wanted, at all costs, to preserve the integrity of the court against perceptions it had become a blatantly political body. Or, in the true meaning of the word “conservative,” he’s the kind of judge who believes it should be very difficult to alter existing law. Or both.
The gymnastics involved was the majority of the court labeling the “fee” that would be imposed on Americans who do not get health insurance a “tax,” a word that was never actually written in the legislation and a characterization which the President vehemently denied. But basically the court’s majority was saying, if the politicians were obviously afraid to call a tax what it really is- as NPR’s Nina Totenberg put it in her analysis of the court’s action, regardless, “If it looks like a tax and acts like tax, it’s a tax.”
And that’s key because there were five justices, including Roberts, who were of the opinion that a universally charged “fee” would have been a violation of the commerce clause of the constitution; they would argue you can’t force people from all 50 different states to pay a fee if they don’t get insurance. But a tax is different. The notion that the Federal government has the right to levy a tax has long been established.
The other part of the gymnastics that seems pretty conflicted is that there’s a law Congress passed that says courts don’t rule on the constitutionality of taxes until they are actually levied and this part of the health care law has not gone into effect yet. In this aspect of the case though, Roberts deferred to Congress’ assertion in the law that it is a fee, they instituted, not a tax. To justify this decision, Roberts had to kind of have it both ways.
So where to now? President Obama gets to explain to the American public what it is that the high court saved today- because his previous communication efforts with the nation in regard to the benefits of the health care law have been widely regarded as abysmal.
And, of course, what many have called his singular accomplishment as President remains intact. Mitt Romney said earlier in the week that rejection of the health care law by the high court would have meant Obama had wasted his first three years in office. That one’s out the window.
But Republicans will likely be all fired up by what they see as a slap in the face by the court. There will be symbolic but ineffective efforts in the House to repeal the law (the Democratic-controlled Senate will never go along). Mitt Romney will make it a mantra in every speech from now until November. Republicans will now be able to use “tax increase” against the President, and overall, it seems the court’s decision will further the stark nature of the choices voters face in November- namely- the role of government in our lives.
Finally, there was a lot of ridiculous speculation and forecasting about how this ruling would go. And you know which one ended up being 100% accurate? There’s a company that makes a business out of analyzing facial expressions. According to their analysis of the way the justices reacted on the bench during the arguments- there were five justices who smiled the most. The four liberals and Chief Justice John Roberts.
For whatever reasons he took the path he did, it would appear it is John Roberts who gets the last laugh.
I don’t care who you are or who’s in the White House. It doesn’t matter if they are a Republican or a Democrat. It is inappropriate to interrupt the President of the United States during prepared remarks as Neil Munro did Friday afternoon during Barack Obama’s Rose Garden announcement about a change of enforcement policies for the children of undocumented parents.
This is not about politics, it’s about decorum. The White House Correspondents Association, Bill O’Reilly and two Fox news anchors were among the many who thought the incident out of bounds and over the top.
Munro works for the Daily Caller, a conservative web site run by Tucker Carlson who I used to work with occasionally at CNN years ago, back when he and Bill Press were the “left-right” commentary couple for the cable news network. Tucker says he’s proud of Munro, but I’m not sure for what. I don’t see the big freedom of the press issue that would make Munro some kind of journalism martyr.
Munro claims he didn’t mean to interrupt Obama and that he mistimed his question thinking the President was wrapping up his remarks. Reporters who were there describe Munro’s claim of accidental timing as a large “cow pie.” The entire assembled press corps knew the President was nowhere near finished.
This was the question Munro was trying to ask, according to the official White House transcript. He finally got it all in as the President walked away from reporters following his statement with, ironically, Neil Munro, being the only one who actually got a question answered.
Q What about American workers who are unemployed while you import foreigners?
Now, there are questions and there are questions. It is certainly reasonable to ask how adding 800,000 children of immigrants to the work force might complicate the jobless situation. But then there’s “while you import foreigners.” That reveals ideology and agenda. Mr. Munro did not give the appearance of being much of a reporter in this incident. He may write words that get published on a web site, but on Friday he was a provocateur.
I actually think the President should hold more news conferences and answer more questions. Neil Munro should ask whatever he likes, respecting the long-established protocols of his profession. But besides being rude, he cut in line. Ask your questions at the end just like everybody else. And if the President walks away and it seems he doesn’t answer questions often enough for you- report that.
The question and the opinion it was drenched in was not really a question- it seemed more a debating point. That’s what partisans do, not reporters.
It seemed an absolute given, for example, that a President drowning in 9% unemployment figures would make an easy target. Entire political campaigns- like Mitt Romney’s- have been built on that assumption. Enter the “turnaround specialist” strategy. Touting his business and private sector credentials, Romney built a logical model for the foundation of a political strategy. Except what happens to this course if the economy starts recovering and unemployment starts dropping significantly?
In this case, many pundits are making the argument that an improving economy is one of the reasons Rich Santorum has surged. Widely seen as a candidate more focused on championing the conservative position on social issues from abortion and gay marriage to birth control and women’s role in the military, the theory goes that conservative voters will gravitate to politicians with strong social views absent alarm over the state of the economy.
Except what happens if all hell breaks loose in the world and, say, Israel decides to bomb Iran in a preemptive attempt to delay or kill off their nuclear capability? With the world on full alert in the case of such military action, Iran under attack and closing the Strait of Hormuz, and tensions escalating throughout the Middle East- it kind of makes birth control a bit of a back-seat issue, doesn’t it?
And what of the recently embraced assumptions that the American economy is on the mend and that with the President’s approval ratings on the rise, he is looking much more secure in his reelection efforts?
Looks good- except what happens if Italy, Spain and Greece go into default and world stock markets panic and the business climate suddenly becomes toxic out of fear and uncertainty? This would be the double-dip recession scenario.
But it doesn’t take cataclysmic events like war or the collapse of the European economy to change the political calculus. Today, for example, there are reports that retail sales were really sluggish in January. Maybe the jobless drop last month was just a positive blip in a still rocky road to recovery.
There’s concern that with gas prices already at $3.50 a gallon in the U.S., unusually high for this early in the year, that there could easily be $5 a gallon gas by election day. That’s a squeeze on consumers that could make for some pretty angry voters.
Taken to its extreme, the argument about the effects of unforeseen events on politics can get silly. What happens if a large meteorite strikes the Earth. What happens if a sudden burst of radiation from the Sun melts our electrical grid and modern society collapses. You could go on and on.
But here’s the thing: Our own Secretary of Defense says there’s a chance Israel really will launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, possibly as early as the spring. Moody’s really did downgrade the economies of Spain, Italy, and Portugal this week and warns the same may be in store for France and England. Gasoline prices really are already high- even without a Middle East war.
The problem with those who make political predictions for a living- the punditry class- is they can only base their assumptions on the present and guess a little on what else might happen.
But anybody who’s willing to venture a prediction about who will win the next election in November is full of it. Remember that if turns out, say Jeb Bush, is standing on the west front of the Capitol building taking the oath of office next January.
How’d that happen? We don’t know now. But we’ll know then after a zillion words will have been written about how reality is stranger than fiction and how weird it was that the incredibly implausible scenario came to pass.
President Barack Obama this week, may have made himself newly electable for 2012. Meantime, Sarah Palin kills animals on her Discovery Channel show to stock up for the winter. Wait…you say..those two things don’t belong in the same article! You’re right. They don’t.
The Angry Middle
Spot-on article on President Obama’s newly-found, feisty voice from the dean of political reporting, David Broder, of the Washington Post. Broder contends that what the President did this week in finding a compromise with Republicans on tax-cuts and jobless benefit extensions was recapture the middle of American politics. And his standing improves with independents with every howl from the deeply unpopular, Pelosi-wing of the Democratic Party.
It’s also tough for Republicans to keep calling the President a socialist, when an actual socialist, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, opposes him so thoroughly and visibly on the Senate floor on all this. Broder confirms what I’ve always suspected of this President. He is a left-of-center pragmatist with a capital “P.”
Sarah Palin’s Refrigerator
My status as an elitist, East Coast urbanite was thoroughly confirmed last night as I accidently came across episode-4 of Sarah Palin’s Alaska on the Discovery Channel. Sarah joined her dad, Chuck and a friend named Steve Becker in hunting down a cute caribou. As they aim their rifles at the defenseless creature, I found myself screaming at my flat-screen, “Run, little guy, run!”
Sarah, as it turns out, is NOT a great shot with a hunting rifle. She missed the creature three times as the weapon jolted up against her shoulder and seemed to cause her to miss high, above the animal’s head. Anyway, somebody (not her) finally wounds and kills the caribou and then they begin gutting it. Sarah explains why it is they cut off the four legs first and pack them up in some container, then adds it was a really good thing they killed this sucker because now everyone will have enough meat to eat for the winter.
What????? It is reported that between speaking fees and book sales alone, Sarah Palin has made $12 million since July of 2009. I respectfully maintain that as a matter of sheer survival, cutting up this caribou they killed last night into dozens of tasty packages tossed into the Palin family freezer…was not entirely necessary.
President Obama delivered the commencement address at historically black Hampton University on Sunday where he launched an assault on technology and media. This crazy, new-fangled digital world, he said, is turning information into entertainment instead of a tool for enlightenment.
While in some contexts there is a certain amount of truth to that, it seems to me the President’s words show a startling lack of understanding of information technology and a very Luddite-like attitude I didn’t expect from our first post baby-boom President. After all, it was his innovative and modern campaign that communicated and raised hundreds of millions of dollars by leveraging many of the digital tools the President now disparages.
The term “Luddite” originates from a movement born in England’s textile industry in the early 1800’s in which workers sabotaged new, wide-framed automated looms out of fear they could be operated by unskilled labor and, therefore, put skilled workers out of jobs.
Ned Ludd is the name of the fellow who literally destroyed some then “modern” equipment back in 1779. As this even more modern textile technology came on line in the 1800’s, protestors took his name as a symbol of their resistance.
Today, the term has come to mean general rejection of new technology and it would appear our President is among those who could be described as “Luddites.” Here’s a key excerpt from the commencement speech:
You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter,” he told the students. “And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.
Too Many Lies
In his first sentence, the President argues there’s a lot of information out there that doesn’t rank high on the “truth meter.” This is new? This wasn’t also happening at the dawn of the Republic? When pamphleteers published scathing lies, rumors and innuendo during election campaigns in the 1700’s and 1800’s?
If he’s referring to those who disparage him on everything from his birth certificate to his “socialistic” leanings; he’s right- they are lies. He is not a socialist; more of a moderate-left pragmatist. The “birthers” are more about hatred of his policies and possibly the man. But there’s absolutely nothing new about the lines of attack. Americans have always been exposed to these extreme types of rhetorical assaults. They are absolutely par for the course in American politics.
Deconstructing the Obama Argument- Cable TV and Talk Radio
If he’s referring to the Fox News’ and Rush Limbaugh’s of the world that some argue espouse right-wing political ideology- well now we also have MSNBC which regularly weighs in from the left- and here, the President is right. Mass media today offers obsessive partisans the precise opinions they want mirrored back to them. But that’s not the media’s fault. There are still objective sources of information out there and because of the digital age we live in- those sources are more available than ever before- at the touch of a keyboard. Is it the media’s fault many people do not avail themselves of objective sources of information?
The President is blaming technology when the real problem is people. They line up like lemmings on the left and the right, rooting for their respective ideologies like they might root for the New York Yankees or the Dallas Cowboys or some other sports team. There are lots of sociological studies on political partisanship and its roots. They show parental influence, environment, upbringing and regionalism are more responsible than the media for cementing a person’s political views.
The Evil Tools of the Digital Age
But it was the list of technological devices the President enumerated that left me wondering if the White House bubble has now captured, isolated and imprisoned him. Tell me how these fit into his arguments about distorted information overload:
And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.
The I-Pod: Revolutionized the world of customized music and yes, it’s used for the spoken word as well, but for the minority who use it for information, opinion or talk, all I can tell you is that some of the most downloaded material on I-Tunes is content from National Public Radio. How is the I-Pod to blame for the dissemination of irresponsible lies?
The I-Pad: While its ultimate fit in our lives is still a work in progress, I believe this device plays only a few basic roles at the moment; easy, touch-screen access to the internet, beautiful graphics for downloadable video and as a reading device that will probably put the Kindle out of business someday. How is the I-Pad to blame for the dissemination of irresponsible lies?
X-Box: I have one. This is the device I use to watch movies from Netflix. My son sometimes uses it to kill bad guys in war game scenarios. I’ll admit I’ve spent a few hours using it to play Tiger Woods Golf. How is the X-Box to blame for the dissemination of irresponsible lies?
Play Station: Ask George W. Bush about this one. Rumor has it he was pretty good with Play Station during those long off days at the Texas ranch and at Camp David. But I don’t see Play Station as in any way to blame for the dissemination of irresponsible lies.
Perhaps most telling is the laugh-line he delivered with a certain sense of perverse pride:
And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work….
It appears the one technological device he does know how to work is the Blackberry, which, interestingly enough, did not make it onto his list of evil modern technologies. But really, Mr. President- get with it, man!
Check out the I-Pad- it’s an amazing and beautiful device that when cheap and refined enough, could be the next line of personal computers that overtake the world.
I am positive your own daughters can teach you how to use an I-Pod and an X-Box. And check your oval office desk again. I know Bush-43 left you a private note when you first arrived. Check in one of the drawers; he may have left you instructions for the Play Station too.
Yes, we live in an age of potential information overload. Yes, there is a lot of both Right-wing and Leftist propaganda. But the examples he uses to back his case are non sequiturs. And the real problem is that he’s blaming the messenger. This would be like John Adams denouncing the evils of the printing press because a pamphleteer was critical of the Alien and Sedition acts.
If you’re looking for the causes of extreme partisanship and political zealotry- bloggers and talkers and wingers are a bit like gasoline on the fire. But the original blaze itself comes from some other place. Where does partisanship come from? And how does that prism affect your view of what is truth? Those are questions with no easy answers and certainly not simple ones like “blame media.”
Remembering the week’s events so you don’t have to!
♦ The week starts off with welcome news for millions of parents. Zhu Zhu pets will not kill their children after all. Over the weekend, a California product-rating web site had claimed the hit toy of the Christmas season contained high levels of a fire retardant called antimony that can cause heart and lung problems with chronic exposure. The Consumer Product Safety Commission issues a statement saying- nuh uh (paraphrasing). Turned out GoodGuide had conducted faulty testing that failed to meet government standards-the antimony levels were fine. Officially, parents are cleared to return to not finding the toys at stores. The loveable furry rodents that are supposed to sell for $10 a piece continue selling online for $100.
♥ Tiger Wood’s wife reportedly moves out of their Florida home.
♦ The Gallup polling organization’s daily EKG of the President’s approval ratings drops below 50%. He is now down to 47%, among the lowest approval numbers for a new President in modern history. Pundits with White House connections say Obama advisors liken the situation to the Reagan administration’s first term when the nation was in the deep recession that effectively ended the hyper-inflation of the Carter years but at a high cost to millions of newly unemployed. The economy eventually recovered and so did Reagan’s initially bad poll numbers. Fox News trumpets the Gallup figures with serious fervor. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs responds that the White House pays no attention to poll numbers unless they’re good. Ok, he didn’t really say that last part.
♥ The number of women reported to have had affairs with Tiger Woods reaches seven.
♦ The big Climate Conference is underway in Copenhagen. “Climategate” enters the public lexicon in a big way as tens of thousands begin wondering why all scandals have to be named “gate.” Stolen e-mails and files from a British climate research center suggest temperature data may have been unethically manipulated. Representatives from a country with only a small stake in the debate over limiting carbon emissions officially raise the issue at the conference. Delegates from oil-rich Saudi Arabia declare the scandal raises serious questions about the basic premise behind the theory of global warming. Go ahead; take a moment to connect those last two sentences.
♥ Photos of Tiger Wood’s mother-in-law being wheeled into an ambulance on a stretcher at 2:30 in the morning becomes breaking news on all the cable networks. Quickly scrambled reporters breathlessly note the incredible irony that she has been taken to the same hospital where Tiger had been treated after his single-car accident. She was released the next day. For some reason, she had been experiencing stress.
♦ The Transportation Security Administration messes up big-time. Employees post TSA manuals online as part of the contract solicitation process. Not ordinarily a problem, except that sensitive details about airport security procedures that were supposed to be redacted- weren’t. Turns out the TSA employees thought they had hidden the classified stuff by covering the words in black. They should have actually deleted them. Apparently, clever, tech-savvy whiz kids can see right through the blackened segments in PDF files and soon the sensitive material makes its way onto the internet. Among other things, we now know what a CIA security credential looks like, that TSA workers don’t inspect wheelchairs or prosthetic devices, and that when it gets really busy at airports they only have to look at 20% of checked bags for explosives. This is why I take trains whenever possible.
♦ Monster waves hit Hawaii and surfers go nuts. San Clemente, California’s Greg Long, rides what is described as a massive, jaw-dropping 25-footer to a perfect score of 100 winning $55,000 at the prestigious 25th anniversary Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau contest on the North Shore of Oahu.
♥ The number of women linked to Tiger Woods reaches 10.
♦ Hump day is a busy news day, indeed. The President delivers a speech at the Brookings Institution in which he outlines tax cuts and other incentives to help small businesses both hire and invest. Since small businesses hire two-thirds of the American work force, some people see this as a good thing. The loyal opposition, which usually supports tax cuts for small businesses, objects loudly because the White House wants to pay for it with bank bail-out money that has been paid back faster than expected. They argue the $200 billion should go toward paying down the huge deficit. I pull out my handy calculator and put on my old-fashioned green accountant visor-thing. Let’s see, divide the $200 billion by the national debt which is currently $12,086,118,896,943. Convert to percentage. <Insert sound of fingers busily pressing calculator keys> Ah ha! Instead of tax cuts for small businesses so they can hire more people, we can take that money and reduce the deficit by 1.65%. Only 98.35% to go! Good deal!
♥ It is reported that national television ads that featured Tiger Woods have vanished from the airwaves and have not been broadcast since November 29th.
♦ The upper Midwest is hit hard by a massive winter storm that dumps one to three feet of snow and then moves eastward, eventually hitting New England. Buffalo gets buffaloed as it gets both the initial storm and then lake-effect snow later in the week.
♦ Five workers with the Transportation Security Administration are put on leave while an investigation is conducted into how they could be so clueless. See Tuesday, 12/8.
♥ A CNN/Gallup poll is released that finds Tiger Woods’ unfavorability rating has gone up from 9% to 25%. No one seems to notice that a married guy with two kids implicated in ten adulterous relationships still has a higher approval rating than the President of the United States.
♦ Sarah Palin writes an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post citing climategate, argues there is no consensus on global warming and concludes the President should boycott the Copenhagen conference. Liberal activists and some scientists criticize the Washington Post for publishing the article. They apparently have not heard that nobody actually reads newspapers anymore and that Sarah Palin’s Facebook friends list exceeds the paper’s total circulation. Sarah Palin has 1,097,360 Facebook friends. The Washington Post’s daily circulation is 637,180. On Sundays, it’s 890,163. I checked.
♦ Senate Democrats reach agreement on health care but nobody can quite figure out at first whether a public option is in or out. Turns out the compromise proposal would allow people to start paying for and getting Medicare coverage two years from now; minimum age-55. Since I am 53, I think, “Wow, how cool is that?”
♥ The number of women associated with Tiger Woods reaches 11.
♦ Barack Obama becomes the first sitting American President since Woodrow Wilson to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. It is widely accepted he’d been given the honor as a largely symbolic gesture for the change he represents rather than for anything he’s accomplished in a mere 11 months in the oval office. Awkward. But not really, because Obama starts the speech by openly admitting the accomplishments of previous recipients like Nelson Mandela dwarf anything he’s done thus far in his young Presidency.
He also accepted the PEACE prize one week after committing 30,000 additional U.S. troops to the war in Afghanistan. Awkward. But not really, because the President deals with the issue head-on in his much lauded speech in Oslo, Norway. He reminds his largely European audience that the non-violent movement would not have defeated Nazi Germany and that you can’t sit down at a table and negotiate with Al-Qaeda terrorists. He concludes sometimes you have to make war to find peace. Amazingly enough, the speech receives positive reviews from Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Pat Buchanan and Sarah Palin. To underscore his point, the President later reminds attendees of the ceremonies that the founder of the Peace Prize, Alfred Noble, invented dynamite.
♦The Russians finally fess up. An amazing and slightly creepy light display over the skies of pre-dawn Norway on Wednesday were not the harbinger of an alien invasion. Turns out it was a Bulava missile test-fired by the Dmitry Donskoi submarine in the White Sea that failed spectacularly. What startled residents of Norway were seeing was the rocket spiraling down to earth through a haze of leaking fuel, resulting in an awesome and scary viewing experience. For the record, the Bulova missile is one of the most pathetic in the annals of modern rocketry. It has failed in 9 of 13 launch attempts. It occurred to me this would make a great pyrotechnic device for a truly memorable fireworks celebration. Until a friend pointed out that an exploding missile might hurt people. This confirms I would have made a horrible event planner.
♥ Tiger Woods’ attorneys go to court to pre-empt the publishing of nude pictures of the world’s greatest golfer/most questionable decision-maker.
♦ The first reviews are in from pre-screenings of the new movie Avatar that is officially released a week from today. The epic, whose characters took 15 years to develop and whose total production and marketing costs exceed $350 million- is apparently pretty good. KTRA movie critic, Sam Rubin predicts at least three Oscars including a Best Picture nomination. That would be about $116 million per statue.
♦ It’s reported Democrats are poised to vote to increase the national debt ceiling by $1.8 trillion before the end of the year so they can get it out of the way and not have to vote to raise it again before the 2010 elections. What an outrage! Why you could produce and market 5,142 Avatar’s for that amount of money.
♥ The Sun newspaper reports exclusively that Tiger Woods tells his wife, Elin that he will do “anything” to keep their marriage together. She has reportedly agreed to do so for the sake of the children. Just one condition. He would be on the shortest leash in the history of leashes. No more golf tour unless Elin can come along and until the kids are old enough to tag along too. The first-born, Sam, is 2. The new kid, Charlie, is 10 months old. Looks like Tiger is going to be taking a few years off. Things should die down by then. Perhaps.
Robert Garcia tweets at garciamedialife.