Friday, December 25, 2009

"Walken in a Winter Wonderland"

Because it's just not Christmas without Christopher Walken...



Merry Christmas to all my friends and readers, and I'll see you again sometime next week.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

President Obama's Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Twelve


"Uh, Santa?... Santa?... Hello?... Oh, crap. Looks like I lost him, too..."

Bob & Doug McKenzie Sing "The Twelve Days of Christmas"

Because at this point, I'm in Canada...



...and will probably have to haul all these gifts back to the States in my extra carry-on bag.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

President Obama's Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Eleven


"Ho! Ho! No! You again."

"That's right, Santa. Me again. And let me tell you something. You're whole attitude these last few days has not been helpful."

"Not 'helpful'? You think Santa Claus trying to guide you toward some kind of reasonable Christmas request is not 'helpful'?"

"You heard me. And let me tell you something else, Santa. I'm sick and tired of your fat cat ways."

"Ho! Did you just call Santa a 'fat cat'?"

"You heard me. You think I'm going to stand here while you outsource toy manufacturing to cheap Third World elvish labor instead giving those jobs to decent, hard-working, politically powerful unions here in America?"

"But Christmastime and Santa belong to all the world!"

"Don't pull that 'Post-National Citizen of the World' routine on me, old man. That's my shtick. And don't even get me started on those windfall profits you make each Christmas."

"But Christmas only comes once a year!"

"Christmas comes every single day in the Obama administration, Santa. The stimulus, the earmarks, health reform, saving money by spending even more money, haven't you been paying attention? Time to get with the program, man, and start being Saint Nicholas again instead Saint No-We-Can't-Afford-That, you dig?"

"But -- But --"

"Zip it, fat cat, and let me tell you about the new Christmas Czar..."

Mr. Smith Reacts to the Senate Health Reform Bill

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

President Obama's Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Ten


"Ho! Ho! Oh, let's just get this over with."

"Don't give up on me yet, Santa. I have a really good request this time."

"All right. What do you want for Christmas, young man?"

"Well, Santa, the estimated GDP growth for the third quarter just got revised downward for the second time. Can you believe that? Instead of the original nifty 3.5% growth rate taking us into a shiny new recovery, now we only have a 2.2% growth rate, and most of that came from my awesome Cash-for-Clunkers program. So, I was thinking, maybe you could give all the hard-working Americans a really crappy, fuel-inefficient, pollution-inducing car, which I could then buy up through an expanded Cash-for-Clunkers program to prop up those GDP numbers. Everybody wins!"

"Ho! Ho! Ho! And I suppose you want me to pay for this expanded program, too, right?"

"Actually, I thought we'd use that unspent TARP money for this instead of reducing the deficit... Hey, Santa, where are you going?... Hey, Santa!... You Secret Service guys, don't let him out!"

The Start of the 2010 Tide

I doubt it will get the same attention as Arlen Specter's switch from Republican to Democrat, but the decision by Representative Parker Griffith of Alabama to switch from Democrat to Republican has far greater implications:



I used to believe that America was strong enough to survive four years of anyone in the White House. But never in my most fevered political dreams did I imagine what I've seen over past year of one-party rule with a 60-vote majority in the Senate, all culminating in a 2,500-plus-page Senate health "reform" bill with a real 10-year cost of roughly $2.5 trillion, a mad dash to pass something (anything) "historic" by an artificial Christmas Eve deadline, and the most sickening level of outright vote-buying that I have ever seen.

Ever.

Griffith is right: We are at a cross-roads. The health "reform" bill was the final straw for him, as it will be for many, many others in this country. And I can only hope Griffith's change of party is the first sign of the change I pray, for all our sakes, that the 2010 elections will bring.

Like fiscal sanity.

If the Obama administration thought the Tea Parties and the town-hall meetings of this year were bad, they ain't seen nothing yet, and they are literally bringing it on themselves. Because they really have done something "historic" -- in less than one full year, they've managed to make the Republicans look good again.

Negative 21


Bonus taste of political things to come:

For the second straight day, the update shows the highest level of Strong Disapproval yet recorded for this President. That negative rating had never topped 42% before yesterday. However, it has risen dramatically since the Senate found 60 votes to move forward with the proposed health care reform legislation. Most voters (55%) oppose the health care legislation and senior citizens are even more likely than younger voters to dislike the plan.
Yet President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Rahm Emanuel still believe it was the failure to pass HillaryCare that cost Democrats control of Congress back in 1994. The bad ideas that made up the actual specifics of HillaryCare itself had absolutely nothing to do with it, in their minds, because voters don't really care about those things. ("Hey, look! It says Reform right on the first page!")

Talk about whistling past the political graveyard...

Monday, December 21, 2009

President Obama's Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Nine


"Ho! Ho! Ho! Against my better judgment, I'm going to ask you again: What would you like for Christmas, young man?"

"Well, Santa, I just read how Zhu Min, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, said how the world just doesn't have enough money to keep buying U.S. Treasuries. That's really going to put a crimp in all this deficit spending I have planned to pay for all my awesome new government entitlement programs, like health reform. So if you could just give a whole bunch of money to the rest of the world, so that they can turn around and buy up our U.S. Treasuries to fund our awesome new deficits, that would make for a pretty awesome and fiscally heart-warming Christmas, don't you think?... Hey, Santa, where are you going?... Hey, Santa!... Santa, come back here!"

Dumbest Political Ad Since Ashton Kutcher's "I Pledge"

Remember, the youth of today are the future of tomorrow. So let's all get out there and RockTheVote! for health reform by... well...

(WARNING: Strong language, sexual situations, lame innuendo, and general idiocy ahead.)



Fortunately for these impending futures of tomorrow, Harry Reid apparently did get two smoking hot Colombian chicks to stand on either side of Senator Ben Nelson for that 60th vote, so these bright lights of political and policy promise can now go back to f***ing cougars and creepy, uncommunicative guys in lame t-shirts. Yea!

Unfortunately, I doubt using the line "Sorry, sexy older lady, but I spent all my scratch on the fine for not buying that federally-required health insurance policy I still couldn't afford" will get the cougar to pick up the check...

RELATED: I Pledge...

Sunday, December 20, 2009

President Obama's Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Eight


"Ho! Ho! Ho! For the eighth time! What would you like for Christmas, young man?"

"Well, Santa, it's better to give than to receive. So I'd like for you to give Senator Ben Nelson a special gift for being the 60th vote needed to pass Harry Reid's awesome and historic Senate health reform bill."

"Ho! Ho! Ho! Didn't you already give him the gift of all the taxpayers in the nation picking up Nebraska's tab for that Medicaid expansion, even though all the other states still get stuck paying their own share?"

"Oh, Santa! That was just part of the political pay-off to buy Senator Nelson's vote. I'm talking about a gift now. And if you give this gift to Senator Nelson, then we don't have to count it as part of the cost of the Senate bill, and we can keep on saying that health reform won't add a single penny to the deficit. Kind of like that whole 'Doctor Fix' thing."

"That's it, Barack. You're back on my Naughty List..."

Pop Quiz: The Better Christmas Edition, Part II

As symbolized by our dog, which of the following is the better Christmas?

A) Christmas 2009:


B) Christmas 2008:


(Hint: It's the year without any paint chips scraped off the wall whenever the poor girl tried to turn her head.)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

President Obama's Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Seven


"Ho! Ho! Ho! We're going to keep going until you get this right, young man! Now, what can Santa bring you for Christmas this year?"

"Well, Santa, I'm tired of giving better gifts than I receive. So for Christmas this year, I'd like to get gifts that are every bit as awesome as the ones I give to everybody else."

"Ho! Ho! Ho! You got it, Mister President! Just let me give Gordon Brown back his pen holder carved from the timbers of the British ship that helped end the African slave trade, and I'll bring you a boxed set of unplayable Bonekickers DVDs in PAL format!"

"Red State Update Moves to Canada"

Just a little something to get me in the mood for where I'll be spending this holiday season!

The Editor In Me Weeps...

"U.N. Averts Climate Collapse by 'Noting' New Deal"

Friday, December 18, 2009

President Obama's Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Six


"Ho! Ho! Ho! Once again! What would you like for Christmas, young man?"

"Well, Santa, I'd like a climate deal in Copenhagen that dramatically cuts our output of carbon dioxide, transfers $100 billion a year from the developed to the developing world, yet doesn't cause a shaky U.S. economy to lose a single net job or raise the cost of energy one dime for our hard-working families."

"Ho! Ho! Ho! I think someone's been attending one-too-many beer summits!"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Senator Franken Gets Petty

President Obama's Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Five


"Ho! Ho! Ho! One more time, Mister President! What would you like Santa to bring you for Christmas?"

"Well, Santa, I want bring the War on Christmas to a responsible end, so a very helpful gift would be if you could get everyone to start calling it the Pan-Cultural Inclusionary Contingency Operation."

"Ho-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o, my..."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Santa Hats and PBJs


President Obama's Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Four


"Ho! Ho! Ho! Let's try this again, Barack. What would you like for Christmas this year?"

"Well, Santa, I'd like for my approval ratings to stop tanking in all the polls."

"Ho! Ho! Ho! Why don't I just get you a second season of Firefly instead?"

Conan and Al Discuss the End of the Polar Ice Cap


"Thank you for having me back on the show yet again, Conan. I appreciate this chance to clarify my latest remarks at the climate summit in Copenhagen."

"That would be, and I quote, 'These figures are fresh. Some of the models suggest to Doctor [Wieslav] Maslowski that there is a 75 percent chance that the entire north polar ice cap, during the summer months, could be completely ice-free within five to seven years.'"

"That's right, Conan."

"And then Doctor Maslowski said about your comment, and I quote, 'It’s unclear to me how this figure was arrived at. I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this.”

"Exactly."

"So you were wrong."

"Not in the slightest, Conan. You see, Dr. Maslowski is not really Dr. Maslowski, at least not anymore. The real Dr. Maslowski was recently replaced by a semi-intelligent, pod-borne doppelganger."

"A pod-borne doppelganger? You mean like in that movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers?"

"Frightening but true, Conan. Only instead of being from outer space, these pods are a rare, tropical species now relentlessly spreading across our doomed Earth's doomed temperate zones as a direct result of unchecked anthropogenic global warming. Much like how malaria will soon be epidemic in Britain."

"That's terrifying!"

"Even more terrifying, these ghastly pod creatures have a vested interest in preventing us from tackling the threat that is man-made global warming. Their vile facsimiles of our human vocal apparatus will say literally anything, no matter how outrageous, to prevent an agreement in Copenhagen."

"Don't these creatures know the debate is over?"

"Apparently not, Conan. But then, they are pods."

"So if we listen to this doppelganged former scientist, our choice will be death from malaria or replacement by a pod? That's quite the devil's bargain!"

"No, Conan. That's science."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

President Obama's Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Three


"Ho! Ho! Ho! And what else would you like for Christmas, young man?"

"Well, Santa, I want you to take that liberal-torturing, filibuster-threatening Joe Lieberman and just --"

"HO! Don't make me put you back on my Naughty List, Barack!"

Tuesday Morning Christmas Dog


Monday, December 14, 2009

President Obama's Twelve Days of Christmas: Day Two


"Ho! Ho! Ho! And what else would you like for Christmas, young man?"

"Well, Santa, I'd like for all the numbers to add up in the Senate's health care reform bill."

"Ho! Ho! Ho! Why don't I just get you another Nobel Prize instead?"

Pop Quiz: The Better Christmas Edition

As symbolized by the car that my wife and and I drive, which of the following is the better Christmas?

A) Christmas 2009:


B) Christmas 2008:


(Hint: It's the year without any chestnuts roasting by an open fire...)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

President Obama's Twelve Days of Christmas: Day One


"Ho! Ho! Ho! And what would you like for Christmas, young man?"

"Well, Santa, I'd like a $1.8 trillion increase in the federal debt ceiling."

"Ho! Ho! Ho! How about I just get William Shatner to read your autobiography on The Tonight Show instead?"

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Spice Rack Nixon

If George W. Bush Had...

[Guest post from The Captain...]

How much better off the United States is in 2009...

If George W. Bush had been the first President to need a teleprompter installed to be able to get through a press conference, would you have laughed and said it is more proof of how he inept he is on his own, and is really controlled by smarter men behind the scenes?

If George W. Bush had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to take Laura Bush to a play in NYC, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had reduced the value of your retirement plan's holdings of GM stock by 90% and given the unions a majority stake in GM, without fundamentally changing the downward spiral of the corporation, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had made a joke at the expense of the Special Olympics, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given Gordon Brown a set of inexpensive (and incorrectly formatted DVDs), when Gordon Brown had given him a thoughtful and historically significant gift, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had given the Queen of England an iPod containing videos of his speeches, would you have thought this embarrassingly narcissistic and tacky?

If George W. Bush had bowed to the King of Saudi Arabia, would you have approved? Emperor of Japan? Premier of China?

If George W. Bush had visited Austria and made reference to the non-existent "Austrian language," would you have brushed it off as a minor slip?

If George W. Bush had filled his cabinet and circle of advisers with people who cannot seem to keep current in their income taxes, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had been so Spanish illiterate as to refer to "Cinco de Cuatro" in front of the Mexican ambassador when it was the 5th of May (Cinco de Mayo), and continued to flub it when he tried again, would you have winced in embarrassment?

If George W. Bush had misspelled the word "advice" would you have hammered him for it for years, like Dan Quayle and potatoe, as proof of what a dunce he is?

If George W. Bush had burned 9,000 gallons of jet fuel to go plant a single tree on Earth Day, would you have concluded he's a hypocrite?

If George W. Bush's administration had approved Air Force One flying low over millions of people followed by a jet fighter in downtown Manhattan, causing widespread panic, would you have wondered whether they actually get what happened on 9-11?

If George W. Bush had failed to send relief aid to flood victims throughout the Midwest with more people killed or made homeless than in New Orleans, would you want it made into a major ongoing political issue with claims of racism and incompetence?

If George W. Bush had created the positions of 32 (and counting) extra-constitutional czars, who report directly to him, bypassing the House and Senate, on so much of what is happening in America, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had ordered the firing of the CEO of a major corporation, even though he had no constitutional authority to do so, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had proposed a budget plan that within 10 years would triple the national debt, which had taken more than two centuries to accumulate, would you have approved?

If George W. Bush had spent more than all the Presidents combined since George Washington, would you have approved?

So, tell me, what is it about Obama that makes him so brilliant, so impressive?

Can't think of anything? Don't worry. He's done all this in ten months, so you'll have three more years to come up with an answer.

Red State Update: Ole Timey Country Simple Christmas

Friday, December 11, 2009

Conan and Al Talk ClimateGate


"Thank you for having me back on the show again, Conan. I appreciate this chance to clarify those remarks I recently made about this nonsensical, so-called 'ClimateGate' scandal."

"That would be the thousands of documents hacked from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, correct?"

"That's right, Conan. You see, many anti-science right-wing zealots have latched onto my comment that I hadn't actually read all the e-mails before declaring that this supposed controversy was nothing more than a lot of 'sound and fury signifying nothing.'"

"Ha!"

"Ha!"

"HA! So you really did read all those e-mails."

"Well... No... What I actually read, Conan, is what's known in the scientific community as the Abstract."

"The Abstract? Sounds vague."

"Not in the slightest, Conan. You see, the Abstract is what real scientists read instead of the actual study. Because the Abstract gives you the conclusions of that study without wasting your time on all those caveats, uncertainties, and potential problems with the study's methods and results, which the Patriot Act requires the full article to include in truly unconstitutional detail."

"What an invasion of privacy!"

"It's the Republican War on Science, Conan."

"And how! But then you made another comment that also raised some eyebrows, didn't you?"

"Yes, I did, Conan. You see, many anti-science right-wing zealots have latched onto my claim that all the e-mails in this hacked material are more than 10 years old, even though the most recent e-mail was actually sent on November 12th of this year."

"So you were wrong."

"Hardly, Conan. As Albert Einstein discovered, time is relative. It can flow at different rates depending on your velocity. So what was ten years ago to all of us was also November 12, 2009, to the distinguished researcher who sent that e-mail, because he was moving through the universe at a different velocity than we were."

"Wow! You must have invented some serious quantum servers to go along with that Internet thing of yours!"

"I certainly did, Conan. And anyone who says differently is just an anti-Einstein denier, funded by the Newtonian-industrial complex."

"So there really is nothing to worry about in all those e-mails and that computer climate modeling code that doesn't actually work."

"I'm sorry, Conan, but did you just say there was actual bad computer climate modeling code in this hacked material, too?"

"Tons of it."

"Really? I wonder why that wasn't in the Abstract?"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Our Lost Fashion Generation

While walking our dog the other morning, my wife and I found ourselves behind this fashionable pair:


The cell phone tucked into the pink sweatpants with sequins emblazoned across the butt is what really completes the look, don't you think?

Harry and Nancy Talk Speech-ifying Strategy


"If you want to get health reform through the Senate, Harry, you need to get out on that floor and give a rousing speech that really knocks those Republicans back on their heels."

"The problem with passing this bill is actually my fellow Democrats, Nancy."

"Focus, Harry. First, you need to compare Republicans who are against our health reform proposals to people who support slavery."

"But weren't the Republicans the ones who freed the slaves?"

"Focus, Harry. Next, you need to compare Republicans who are against our health reform proposals to people who don't want women to have the right to vote."

"Women's suffrage? Isn't that a bit --"

"Focus, Harry. Then, you need to compare Republicans who are against our health reform proposals to people who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

"Senator Byrd is not going to like that one."

"Whatever. Now personally, I'd finish off with a pro-Holocaust/Nazi-sympathizer comparison, but that's just me."

"How about I propose opening up Medicare to another 20 or 30 million people instead, while simultaneously cutting $500 billion or so in Medicare funding?"

"Well, I suppose you could go that route, Harry, or you could listen to the woman who actually passed a health reform bill through her house of Congress. Now, let's talk cap-and-trade..."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Are You Really Unemployed?



(H/T: Panzramic)

Pop Quiz: "Presidential" Poetry Edition

Which of the following "presidential" poets has composed the finest bit of verse?

A) President Barack Obama:

Under water grottos, caverns
Filled with apes
That eat figs.
Stepping on the figs
That the apes
Eat, they crunch.
The apes howl, bare
Their fangs, dance,
Tumble in the
Rushing water,
Musty, wet pelts
Glistening in the blue.
B) Almost-President Al Gore:
One thin September soon
A floating continent disappears
In midnight sun

Vapors rise as
Fever settles on an acid sea
Neptune's bones dissolve

Snow glides from the mountain
Ice fathers floods for a season
A hard rain comes quickly

Then dirt is parched
Kindling is placed in the forest
For the lightning's celebration

Unknown creatures
Take their leave, unmourned
Horsemen ready their stirrups

Passion seeks heroes and friends
The bell of the city
On the hill is rung

The shepherd cries
The hour of choosing has arrived
Here are your tools
(Hint: I think I just remembered why I ran screaming from that PhD path in English Lit all those years ago.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...

White House Phone Logs: President Obama Calls the Climate Research Unit


"Hey, Phil. It's, ah, it's Barry. I need you to do me a huge favor. Um, can you please, ah, take your name off your phone? James Inhofe put out a subpoena and went through my phone records and may be calling you. So if you can, please take your name off that. And, ah, what do you call it, just have it as a number, just have it as your telephone number on your voicemail, that's it. You got to do this for me. Huge. Quickly. Bye... Oh, yeah. Tiger might be calling you, too."

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Best of the First Year

Somehow, I completely missed my first-year anniversary as a blogger here at In My Copious Free Time. And considering that I'm still drowning in the latest evil editing marathon, I might as well "celebrate" that anniversary today by looking back the 10 favorite posts of the last year, in no particular order:

1) 24 Shots at Love: The Lost Episode

Jack Bauer goes undercover on a VH1 celeb-reality dating show.

2) The Endless Adolescence of Joel Stein

Joel Stein is desperate for attention. Really. He's said so himself. And it's the only way to explain his columns.

3) Larry King Live: The Lost Episode

The success of Larry King... well...

4) Tale of the $1 Car

The life (and death) of my wife's first car. Which she really did buy for $1.

5) Having a Serious Conversation

My first Instapundit link.

6) Susan Roesgen: The Lost Episode

It's almost a shame Susan Roesgen disappeared after that infamous Tea Party report for CNN. I was hoping to make a whole series out of spoofing her nonpolitical, unbiased take on the news.

7) Tale of the Chihuahua

I hate chihuahuas. 'Nuff said.

8) Credit Card-tastic!

President Obama updates us on his efforts to secure a new credit card for America.

9) Bonekickers

One of the reasons I started this blog was just so that I could rip apart possibly the worst television show I have ever seen.

Ever.

10) The Obligatory Prop 8 Post

One of the few times I've gotten out of bed at 2 AM, because a post just had to be written.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Still. The Worst. White House. Press Secretary. Ever.



Oh, Robert...

Then again, wouldn't it nice if the White House Press Corps went after issues like the wasted $787 billion stimulus, the incomprehensible health reform bills currently in Congress, our failed efforts to halt the Iranian nuclear program, and the internal contradictions of the president's new Afghanistan policy with the same aggressiveness and dogged determination they show here on the subject of ... Desiree Rogers, White House Social Secretary?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The President at West Point: The Lost Footage


"Cadets, let me be perfectly clear. No one should harbor any doubts about my commitment to the escalation of forces I am announcing here tonight. I could no more disown this war of necessity in Afghanistan than I could my own grandmother."

Friday, December 4, 2009

Dear Neighbor (Again)

Dear Neighbor,

It is now the morning of December 4th, and your Halloween pumpkin is still on display for all to enjoy.


For the love of God, girls, please throw this rotting thing away before it attracts the raccoon living in that drainage pipe down at the intersection. Or gets "accidentally" knocked onto the center of your lovely patio table.

Thank you. That is all.

Sincerely,

Your Neighbor

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Love Trek

Because I'm still "engaged" in the current evil editing marathon. And because I really need a laugh after the disappointment of President Obama's West Point speech.



I can't believe they left out Twiki...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Speech at West Point

Even as I lost all "hope" (pun intended) over this past year that President Obama would be the moderate, deficit-trimming postpartisan he had campaigned as -- and even seemed to be during the transition -- I always believed that if nothing else, he would do the right thing on Afghanistan. This was the "good" war, after all. The real War on Terror. The War of Necessity. The war that we had under-resourced for so many long years after taking our eye off the ball and invading Iraq, in a mistake that he would correct. And I knew all this because he had repeatedly told me so.

Watching President Obama tonight, as he announced at West Point his plan to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, I not only wanted to support him, I wanted to keep believing that despite all the other issues I have with him, at least he still believes everything he had been saying about Afghanistan. That at least on this one issue, if on no others, he could rise above politics and be an actual statesman.

It was a nice thought.

Instead of rising the occasion, instead of a president acting presidential and conveying his determination and resolve not just to America but to its allies and its enemies, we got a small speech, delivered at a photo op, and given by a man who at times actually seemed to be annoyed that he was even there.

And the speech itself was vintage Obama: "[W]hat’s at stake is the security of our Allies, and the common security of the world," but we're going "to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011," because this "new approach in Afghanistan is likely to cost us roughly 30 billion dollars for the military this year," and we really need "to bring down our deficit," even though "the common security of the world" is at stake. And did I mention that "I have prohibited torture and will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay"?

Like I said, vintage Obama.

You have to give him credit, though. Few politicians could stand there and say "by the time I took office the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan approached a trillion dollars" as a way to burnish his own fiscal responsibility bona fides after having himself signed off on roughly the same amount in a single bill!

Few politicians could give a major speech meant to rally both this nation and its allies to a plan for turning around a failing war yet avoid ever using the word victory. Because phrases like "responsible end" or "break the Taliban's momentum" are what really convey determination and resolve. Especially when "the common security of the world" is at stake. And besides, "successful conclusion" is so much less, well, militaristic...

Few politicians could announce a new, supposed counterinsurgency strategy without ever using the word counterinsurgency. Although the phrase "secure key population centers" does have more of a wonkier ring to it, I suppose, and President Obama just isn't the kind of guy who will let one word do the work of four. And I'm sure any Afghans who are not living in one of those "key population centers" will still happily sign on and help, because "our cause is just, our resolve unwavering." Or at least it will be until July of 2011.

Because "the common security of the world" is at stake.

And don't even get me started on his lament about how America has lost the unity it had right after September 11th. The president may "believe with every fiber of [his] being" we can summon that unity again, but I believe, with every fiber of my own being, that this summoning would be a whole lot easier if he would stop poking gratuitous sticks in the eyes of those who in good faith hold a different position on Iraq, or "enhanced interrogation," or Guantanamo Bay, or a host of other related and equally complicated issues. Especially when he's trying to build a common purpose in Afghanistan and the people who are most disposed to support this new surge of additional troops are, well, the very people whose eyes he just went around poking with gratuitous rhetorical sticks.

Then again, it also might be helpful in building support and "unity" for this strategy -- not just here in America but also among our allies abroad -- if the president had sounded, acted, and spoken like someone who actually believed in this strategy himself. Because he didn't. And you could see it on the faces of those cadets sitting in the audience. They knew the president was saying the words, but that his heart wasn't in them. And you just don't send in 30,000 additional troops unless you really, truly are resolved to see this fight through to the end, and to do whatever it takes to make sure that end is a certain word our president prefers not to use.

And that's my real dilemma. I support this strategy. I support sending those additional troops. I think this is the right thing to do, and the necessary thing to do. And I truly, honestly want to support President Obama in this.

But damn, did he ever make that hard to do with this speech.

The A Trek

So, after finishing Day One of the latest evil editing marathon, did I save that mammoth Word file and immediately go catch up on the latest news so that I could write and post an intense, thoughtful, well-researched political commentary?

Of course not! I went looking for more remix videos of old science-fiction shows on YouTube instead!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Space: 1969

As I sit here getting ready for my next evil editing marathon -- which starts in, oh, about 17 minutes or so -- I discovered this during my morning blog crawl.

I grew up on repeats of Star Trek, broadcast on some station in Wheeling, West Virginia, whose call letters I've long forgotten. I'm also old enough to have been young when Space: 1999 aired in first-run syndication. (Actually, I'm old enough to remember when Harlan Ellison's The Starlost first aired, but that's a whole other can of worms.) So when I spotted this over at James Lileks' The Bleat, well, it just made my entire morning.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Attention Must Be Paid!

Clearly, this driver has a lot on his or her mind...

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Tale of Two Turkeys


"Did everyone see that? This turkey bowed to me!"

Thursday, November 26, 2009

THANKSGIVING REPEAT: The Only Two Presents I Need

[Because this is as true today as it was when I wrote it almost a year ago.--Wesley M.]

This Christmas, we're seeing no family. We have the fewest presents under the tree that either of us can remember, and the weather outside is bone-chilling rain instead of heart-warming snow. I've seen more holiday television specials this year while sitting in veterinary office and animal hospital waiting rooms than I have while sitting at home. I never made it to a Christmas Eve service last night and won't make it to a service today, even though attending church this holiday as a believing Christian for the first time since I was 12 or 13 is something I've spent months anticipating.

None of this bothers me, though. I have the only two presents I need:


Earlier this month, I had to face the possibility of losing my wife. Not through a separation or a divorce, but in a car that literally ended its time with us by fire.

And not even a week ago, I had to face the possibility of losing our dog. Not through the poor girl wandering off or because of a move that somehow forced us to leave her behind, but during a long day and even longer night of vomiting, shaking, weakness, and more blood than I ever want to see in one place again.

Sometimes life, or God, or just plain dumb luck forces you to realize what's actually important. I don't plan on forgetting this lesson anytime soon.

Count your blessings, everyone. I know I am.

Merry Christmas, and God bless.

[Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.]

THANKSGIVING REPEAT: Thanksgiving Day 2008

A short classic from Charlie Chaplin:



Still think you have nothing to be thankful for?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dear Neighbor

Dear Neighbor,

It is now the afternoon of November 25th, and your Halloween jack o'lantern is still on display for all to enjoy.


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and when I sit down at that table and list all the many things for which I'm thankful, I hope I can include that my neighbor has finally thrown this poor thing in the trash and put it out of its misery.

Thank you. That is all.

Sincerely,

Your Neighbor

"Women In The Wind"!

They just don't make movies like this anymore.

Or trailers...



I hereby demand that Hollywood make more movies featuring glorious legions of flying women as they battle the skies!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blinders, Part II

Along with wading through all the hacked East Anglia material myself the last few days, I've been spending some time following the comment threads for other online postings about this issue. I've left a comment or two of my own, though I usually stay out of those threads. All too often, they get hijacked by the most extreme voices on either side, and the people actually willing to give the other side a fair hearing -- and to acknowledge the short-comings of their own side, which both sides do have -- get crowded out. Sometimes, it seems like the only thing those two extremes can agree on is that anyone with an "undecided" mind must be insulted and driven from the thread.

As someone who was once absolutely convinced of mankind's role in global warming but, after years and years of editing environmental science papers, found himself moving into the "maybe, but maybe not" camp, I generally walk away from those comment threads muttering "A pox on both your damn houses..."

Most disappointing to me have been the self-proclaimed defenders of "The Science(Trademark)," who are actually acting like political flaks. Not only do they see nothing of concern in the East Anglia material, they can't even bring themselves to say "I think there is absolutely nothing to worry about in these e-mails and other files, but I can understand why it looks bad and why people are concerned." Apparently, in their minds, even that would be giving the other side a "win," and giving the other side a "win" must be avoided at all costs. Just like when someone on your side of the political fence gets caught doing something wrong that you would, quite rightly, skewer someone on the other side for doing. But now the person behaving badly is on your side, so he or she must be defended. At all costs.

Any scientific Joe Lieberman's will be driven from the party.

And the Vulcan Science Directorate has determined that time travel is an impossibility.

Some of the comment threads really do descend to that level.

On the other hand, I've also found myself coming to respect some in the man-made global warming camp even more than I often already did. Dr. Judith Curry, for instance, is hardly a "denier." The Chair of Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and best-known to the general public for her research into hurricane intensity, she's also an example of intellectual honesty and what goes into "good" climate science, acknowledging that the field does often have a problem with the availability and openness of the data and methods used, particularly in regard to the reseachers in the East Anglia material:

Climate data needs to be publicly available and well documented. This includes metadata that explains how the data were treated and manipulated, what assumptions were made in assembling the data sets, and what data was omitted and why. This would seem to be an obvious and simple requirement, but the need for such transparency has only been voiced recently as the policy relevance of climate data has increased. The HADCRU surface climate dataset and the paleoclimate dataset that has gone into the various “hockeystick” analyses stand out as lacking such transparency. Much of the paleoclimate data and metadata has become available only because of continued public pressure from Steve McIntyre. Datasets that were processed and developed decades ago and that are now regarded as essential elements of the climate data record often contain elements whose raw data or metadata were not preserved (this appears to be the case with HADCRUT). The HADCRU surface climate dataset needs public documentation that details the time period and location of individual station measurements used in the data set, statistical adjustments to the data, how the data were analyzed to produce the climatology, and what measurements were omitted and why. If these data and metadata are unavailable, I would argue that the data set needs to be reprocessed (presumably the original raw data is available from the original sources). (emphasis added)
And then there's George Monbiot, environmental activist, author, and again, hardly anyone's idea of a climate "skeptic," who proves that you can reject both the idea of a worldwide global climate science conspiracy while still acknowledging and going after potentially bad or even fraudulent climate science:
Yes, the messages were obtained illegally. Yes, all of us say things in emails that would be excruciating if made public. Yes, some of the comments have been taken out of context. But there are some messages that require no spin to make them look bad. There appears to be evidence here of attempts to prevent scientific data from being released, and even to destroy material that was subject to a freedom of information request.

Worse still, some of the emails suggest efforts to prevent the publication of work by climate sceptics, or to keep it out of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. I believe that the head of the unit, Phil Jones, should now resign. Some of the data discussed in the emails should be re-analysed.
Read the whole Monbiot article, by the way. The hypothetical "hacked e-mail" he includes (to "The Knights Carbonic") to show what he would need to believe that all of climate science was a sham is a hoot and a half. And after the last few days, I think we all could use a hoot and a half, wherever you fall in this debate.

RELATED: An excellent, even-handed article by Declan McCullagh over at the CBS News website, highlighing problems in the CRU's temperature databases and code.

Cuteness

Monday, November 23, 2009

Maybe Not Fraud, But Definitely Some Blinders

By now, most people who spend time online have probably heard that the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit, home to some of the strongest voices supporting the existence of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), recently had its servers hacked, leading to a massive amount of potentially embarrassing e-mails and other files being publicly posted. A good summary for many of the e-mails involved (and links to specific e-mails) can be found here. The full archive can be found here.

By now, most people who spend time online have probably also heard that most of this material seems to be genuine. It's hard to know if something fraudulent has been slipped in among the real deals, but after several days, I'm not aware that any particular item has had its authenticity challenged.

I've held off blogging about this until now, because I wanted to look over as much of this material as I could before saying anything. And maybe even more interesting than the hacked material itself has been seeing the reactions in the comment threads of the various websites discussing this. Those comments range from people who are convinced this material completely debunks the existence of AGW to people giving a knee-jerk defense for every single potential issue in that material.

As of this morning, put me somewhere in the middle.

I agree that “trick” is most likely just an unfortunate choice of wording. Having been a science editor/ghostwriter for more than 20 years now, I've dealt with a lot of peer-review studies and publications. And I’ve seen enough unfortunate wording from brilliant people who should know better to last me a lifetime. “Hide the decline” seems a lot harder to explain away, though, and should throw up enough red flags to make even the hardest-core AGW proponent demand that a second, closer look be taken at the specific work in question.

I agree that a lot of these e-mails are cases of smart guys with big egos behaving like utter and absolute a-holes. And that should surprise no one who has ever worked with noted scientists at the top of their field. But when they start talking about deleting e-mails, data, and code to keep them out of anyone else’s hands, that should also throw up enough red flags that make anyone, on either side of the AGW debate, who actually does care about legitimate science demand a second, closer look at the work by these particular researchers.

I also agree that the majority view among scientists is that AGW exists, especially in the peer-reviewed literature. So when you have noted researchers not just complaining about AGW-skeptical papers making it through peer review, but also discussing having the journal editor in question removed, how to prevent other skeptical articles from seeing print in the primary literature, and how to de-legitimize a peer-review journal that has published such articles, well, one would think that might give those who uses the "consensus" of the peer-reviewed literature as their argument for AGW at least a moment’s pause. And, again, want the work of those researchers to be thoroughly reviewed -- if only to protect the integrity of the argument for AGW and show there really is no room for “bad” science on their side.

I don’t know if these researchers have been deliberately committing fraud. I get the impression, though, that they’ve become so convinced they already know the answer, they’ve stopped looking for problems and holes in their own data and methods in the way that they should. And that’s usually when a lot of bad science starts to happen.

There’s a lot to be concerned about in this hacked material. And whatever their intentions, the people who are denying that fact aren't defending good science.

Even Saturday Night Live Is Catching On...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

How Not To Wake Up In The Morning...

How do I prefer not to wake up in the morning? By hearing, right next to my ear, that repeated horp-glorp as the dog heaves beside the bed, preparing to vomit up something really, really nasty she had managed to eat off the street the day before during that one moment I wasn't paying attention.

By throwing off the covers and jumping out of bed, still half-asleep but instinctively ready to guide the dog out of the bedroom, down the apartment hallway, and to the safety of the easy-to-clean tile in the guest bathroom.

By my sleep-addled, fumbling fingers not catching hold of the dog just right as she runs down the apartment hallway ahead of me, past the hoped-for tile in the guest bedroom, and on into the living room.

And by having the poor girl finally vomit up that nasty street-treat onto the carpet not quite a foot short of the easy-to-clean kitchen tile.

Then again, our girl is worth it. And it still beats those early puppy days when she was being house-trained and was too young to sleep through the night.

Pop Quiz: Harry Reid Re-Election Edition

Which of the following is the best campaign commercial related to Harry Reid's bid for re-election to the U.S. Senate?

A) Harry Reid, "Determination":



B) Danny Tarkanian, "The Reid Files":



(Hint: Well, Senator Reid does have a reputation for, ah, "determination"...)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ho, Ho, Ho-liday Economy!


Extra points if you can name the noted local bluesman depicted here as Santa.

Friday, November 20, 2009

"Limbaugh and Coulter and Beck, Oh My!"

I know Steven Crowder and Alfonzo Rachel generally get most of the comedic buzz when it comes to the people on PJTV, and I do enjoy watching their work as well.

Andrew Klavan, though, is the one who really keeps me coming back for more:



And no, I don't think Limbaugh and Coulter and Beck are paragons of untainted virtue and received wisdom. I just don't think they're the stereotypes of unparalleled wickedness and diabolical hate they so often get painted as by the other political side.

Okay, maybe Glenn Beck, just a little. At least when he starts crying, but I guess that's really just more annoying than it actually is wicked. (Please stop crying, Glenn.)

Because I Know My Wife Reads This Blog...

Yes, I bought you another Christmas present today.

And no, I'm not going to tell you what this one is, either.

Pre-Thanksgiving Christmas Overkill


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Conan O'Brien: The Lost Episode


"Thank you for having me back on the show, Conan. I appreciate this chance to clarify those remarks I made last night about the interior temperature of the Earth."

"That would be how the interior of the Earth is extremely hot, right? Several million degrees, in fact."

"That's right, Conan. You see, since last night, many anti-science right-wing zealots have latched onto this remark as a way to claim, again, that my scientific presentations are riddled with factual inaccuracies."

"Ha!"

"Ha!"

"HA! So the interior temperature of the Earth really is several million degrees."

"Well... no... Technically, it's a lot less."

"Really? How much less?"

"Well, Conan, the current scientific consensus is that it's only somewhere between 3,000 and 9,000 degrees Celsius. And as you know, good science is all about the consensus."

"So you were wrong."

"I was imprecise, Conan. What I meant to say is that the interior temperature of the Earth feels like it's several million degrees. Kind of a reverse geological wind chill factor. And all those pressures deep inside the Earth kick up some mighty strong winds, which fortunately for us can also be used as alternative sources of clean, carbon-free energy."

"So your science was right. Take that, Sarah Palin!"

"Well said, Conan. Well said."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Someone Likes My Neighbor


Recovery Pong!


"Okay, here's the deal, guys! I land this one in that little cup over there, and we add another 7,000 jobs saved or created at Recovery.gov! No one's actually gonna checks those numbers we're putting up, right? Like the President said when he put me in charge of overseeing the stimulus, nobody messes with Joe!"

Reason #129...

Reason #129 why I'm no longer a Democrat...



Is it fair to send people to jail for not buying health insurance? Well, what better way to make sure someone doesn't get sick, go to the emergency room, and send the bill to all of us than to send that person to jail, which means losing all the tax revenue from his or her employment, paying tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars per year to feed and house this person, and then providing the new prisoner with quality health care paid for by ... all of us?

And if jail time for not buying health insurance actually is a "myth" about Speaker Pelosi's House version of the bill -- as "Karina" over at the Speaker's blog writes, even if "Karina" does simultaneously allow for "criminal prosecutions" under "extremely rare circumstances" -- then why not just say that, Speaker Pelosi? Unless maybe you don't even know what's really in that 1,990-page bill.

Or unless you're trying to have it both ways.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Loneliness of the Starbucks Patio

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stimulus Quote of the Night

From Mark Steyn:

Reading those jobs numbers, I can't be the only resident of New Hampshire's Second Congressional District who dreams of relocating to the "00 Congressional District", land of 2,873.9 newly created jobs. What a great name! Because in the Obama budget you can always use a couple extra zeroes.

Pop Quiz: Creepy "V" Edition

Which of the following is the creepiest version of the sci-fi semi-classic V?

A) V (1984, NBC)



B) V (2009, ABC)



C) V (2009, GOV)



(Hint: Is it just me, or does Anna have some Obama-niscent hair going on?)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

We Should Have Gone to Hooters Instead

My wife and I went out to dinner the other night, to one of the few restaurants in our area that we hadn't yet tried. It's a seafood place down near the 10, right beside the Hooters. So when my wife and I saw the mostly empty parking lot, we both made the obligatory joke about going to the Hooters instead, because then, if we were served terrible food, we could at least gaze at some nylon-clad legs and maybe a tight t-shirt or two.

We should have gone to Hooters instead. And I say that as someone who hasn't been able to even think about actually setting foot inside a Hooters ever since I found out that O.J. Simpson had a Hooters VIP card, which apparently got a lot of use.

Now, as my wife will tell you, I'm easily pleased at a restaurant. Not because I don't have standards, but because I've known too many restaurant people in my life. All those friends who were (and still are) waitresses, hostesses, chefs, and even owners have made me kind of easy-going. Bring me the wrong drink? If it's something I also like, then no problem. Bring me the wrong food? I'm usually so hungry by that point, I'll take it anyway. And enjoy it. Life's just too short, right?

Like I said, we should have gone to Hooters instead.

I could deal with the low, semi-romantic lighting suddenly getting turned up to the nuclear-fired intensity of a thousand white-hot, flaming stars. I could deal with the cola I ordered being one of those weak, watered-down fountain sodas. I could deal with not one, but two employees stopping by our table seemingly every minute-and-a-half to see if "everything was all right," even though most of the restaurant people I know are savvy enough that when they see a couple holding hands across a table and leaning almost forehead-to-forehead, they realize that couple wants to be left alone. I could also deal with the appetizer order somehow getting lost and forgotten back in the depths of what apparently passed for a kitchen. I could even deal with the entrees themselves turning out to be bland and unappealing.

What I could not deal with was simply the most unappetizing thing I've ever heard a waitress say. Ever.

And just what did this paragon of service say?

"I'm sorry. I've been off work for a month sick with Swine Flu, and this is my first day back."

Both our appetites died immediately. Our eyes went wide, and we set down our forks. Then we both leaned back and went, Ewwwwwwww...

In our heads, we both knew she wasn't contagious at this point, but in our guts? You just don't want to hear the woman serving -- and breathing on -- your food talk about her recent infectious disease, which sometimes also just happens to be fatal.

Again, Ewwwwwwww...

We really should have gone to Hooters instead.

"Steadfast"

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Courtyard Conversation about China

A conversation between my neighbor's two young boys earlier today as we all played with my dog in the courtyard:

"Which gets born first, people or dogs?"

"People."

"I think dogs."

"No. People in China get born first, because everything's made in China."

Eric Beck, or Glenn Cartman

I don't care what your politics are, or what you think of Glenn Beck, because this is just flat-out funny.

(Warning: Strong language ahead)



Now remember, fellow conservatives, we're supposed to be the ones with a sense of humor who can laugh at ourselves, right?

Right?

Exclusive Info: Inside President Obama's Afghan War Council


"Let me say this again. I don't really care what the general I handpicked to implement that bold, new, comprehensive, and carefully considered Afghan strategy I announced back in March says he needs to actually implement that strategy. And I don't really like any of these other options we've spent the last two months and eight meetings sitting here deconstructing like the smart guys we all know we are. So get out, all of you. And don't come back until you can bring me a war where everything goes exactly the way we want and on exactly the timetable we devise... What, do I have to sit here and hold my breath or something? Go!"

Friday, November 13, 2009

Christopher Walken Performs Lady Gaga

Because after my last post, I need a laugh that doesn't make me cry at the same time. And because no one is cooler than Christopher Walken. Not even this guy.



I want Christopher Walken as the moderator for the 2012 presidential debates. I really, really do.

Headline of the Day

"After spending binge, White House says it will focus on deficits"

Chris Dodd Knows What the American People Want


"That's right. This is what the American people want, right here. My sweeping, bold, long-overdue, comprehensive reform of the massive and complicated banking and financial sectors of our even more massive and complicated American economy, all neatly wrapped up and explained in a pithy 1,136 pages... I'm sorry, you had a question, Todd?... Well, no, I haven't actually read this bill either, but look, it says 'reform' right here in big letters on the very first page! What could possibly go wrong?"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Determination"


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pop Quiz: Naming Tyranny Edition

Which of the following presidents would you trust to name tyrants for what they truly are and to stand firm against aggressive dictatorships around the world?

A) President Ronald Reagan:



B) President Barack Obama:



(Hint: Name tyrants for what they truly are? One of these presidents, speaking on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, couldn't even bring himself to name the kind of tyranny that put up that wall. Communism? Never heard of it, but hey, who would have guessed back when the wall came down that 20 years later, Germany's American ally "would be led by a man of African descent"? How awesome is that? And don't the president's congratulations to the German people seem that much more awesome after he reminds everyone of how awesome and historic it is that he's the president? Then again, he does at least acknowledge that some people still "live within walls of tyranny" today, even if he does seem to think that means getting tough with Honduras as opposed to, say, Iran.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

First of the Season

While walking the dog after dinner tonight, I spotted the first house in our neighborhood to be decorated for Christmas:


I'm one of those people who would have the tree up already, if my wife would let me. But even for me, this is a bit too much a bit too early...

It's Official, Part II

After a much-needed break, blogging on In My Copious Free Time resumes later tonight.

Sometimes, you just need to get away from something for a while before you can start enjoying it again.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's Official

I have blogger burn-out.

Friday, October 9, 2009

"Vision"