Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Actually, no

The world ... in crisis! But first, this:

It is incumbent on me as a columnist to do one of those year-end things — the 10 best of this, the 10 worst of that or, as you will see, who had the worst year in politics.

Columnists of the world, you have nothing to lose but the chains of the annual Top 10 list. No, you don't have to come up with the year's best or worst. You don't have to write a Things I'm Thankful For at Thanksgiving. You don't even have to provide a list of Banned Words every year. (I still fail to see the point in banning new words when so many familiar ones -- "police are investigating," for example -- are still waiting for a space on the unheated cattle train to Siberia.) Your obligation as a columnist is to be interesting. OK, "true" and "nonstupid," which are stumbling blocks for many columnists, are highly recommended too, but they often go along with interesting.

All that considered, when someone actually writes a year-end summary called "The World in Crisis," it's incumbent on you to draw a more different S and read along in your best voice:

We close 2013 in a world that seems to be swiftly tilting toward ever-larger crises of government legitimacy, oncoming clashes of foreign powers, and an abiding sense of concern on the part of the American people that the economic realities of long-term unemployment, wage stagnation, and the working class squeeze of higher prices for health care, higher education, and basic goods and services are not a brief trend, but enduring problems for which Washington has no solutions.

Or you could just get a few sheets of paper and start diagramming.

You'll be missing a lot if you just skip to the end, but -- no, not really.

... Of course, there is still hope. The nation has survived incredible crises before, on the global scale and within our society. The path toward liberty is still a viable one. And perhaps we will find that even when things break down, when government fails and grand strategies fade, the American people can count on each other more than they thought. These are strange times for the country and the world. But we may find that, even as institutions fail us, the American people exceed expectations. They have done it so many times before. In the coming year, they will be called on to do so again.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

No, but thanks for asking

Could you actually have had more fun on this last weekend of the old year than watching the Fair 'n' Balanced Network twist itself -- and, let's be fair, all the known evidence -- into angry knots of rage over somebody else's report on BENGHAZI!!?!!?!!?!!??

Well, of course not. So let's see if Fox and its friends can put the last few months into perspective. We'll start with the question-begging example at right, because it gets directly to why "Benghazigate" is an inane fiction created and sustained by the party press.
WALLACE: Do you think there is a political motivation to this "Times" report? Some people have suggested, well, this is trying to clear the deck for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

ROGERS: Yes. I don't know, but I found it was interesting that there's this rollout of stories, including Susan Rice, would go on TV and have a direct discussion, when we still have ongoing investigation in the House Intelligence Committee.

Let's give this one some thought, you guys -- that's you, hard-hitting Fox journalist Chris Wallace, and you, Mike Rogers, alleged chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. How exactly is Hillary Clinton supposed to gain political points from an article that asserts, among other things, that the diplomatic side (of which she was in charge) enabled a deadly fuck-up in an unstable part of the world through its naive assumptions that anybody who drank coffee with us was our friend forever?

Read more »

Friday, December 27, 2013

Hed of the (rapidly fading) month

Heds like this seem to call forth the literary analogies, but they're actually pretty common. "No beer" doesn't mean no individual, mortal beer; it means an absence of beer where beer could reasonably -- OK, this is the cop blotter, so a there's a limited range of values for "reasonably" -- have been expected to be:

South Carolina authorities say a 44-year-old woman angry at a man for returning home without beer on Christmas beat and stabbed him with a ceramic squirrel.

And that, alas, clears up the other ambiguity. She didn't take out to do violence to every ceramic squirrel on the block; she hit him upside the head with a handy one, then apparently kept going after it broke. Life only imitates Elmore Leonard because Elmore Leonard imitates life.

And it wouldn't be a four-graf AP national story about episodic holiday crime if it didn't add some value to the local report:

It wasn't known if she had a lawyer.

Because if it was known, the AP would have called the lawyer for a comment! Though if it really wanted to do her a favor, it could think about not naming either the victim or the perp (nobody's being nominated for a federal judgeship or anything here, after all) when it takes local crime worldwide just for laffs.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Candidate caught in love nest with 'singer'

Well -- except he's not a candidate, it's her parents' house, and she has a day job. "Raven-haired power publicist" might not be what you had in mind during J-school, but it's almost certainly a different category on the old Form 1040 than "ho!" Let alone "ho! ho! ho!"

You do kind of wonder sometimes if there's any lower the Post can sink, and then you realize the scope of the human imagination and stop wondering.


Oil, that is

If you've been trying to sneak in a Forbidden Lede over at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network, Christmas has come very, very early for you:

Call it a puppy's Christmas "Miracle."

A teeny, tiny puppy from Colorado survived harrowing odds to be born in time for the holiday.

Just call him Santa Kitna.

Jon Kitna, who came out of retirement this week to rejoin the Dallas Cowboys as an emergency backup QB, was teaching math and coaching football at a high school when opportunity came knocking. And now that he's back in the league, he hasn't forgotten where he came from.

Better hurry before the Grinch gets there.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

War On ... oh, the hell with it

And there were in the same country shepherds Christmas tree farmers abiding in the ... O hai! Wondering how the "Christmas tree 'tax'" got to be the third most super-important story of the afternoon at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network? For that, you're going to have to travel back in time a little bit -- specifically, to November 2011, when the Kenyan Muslim socialist (not pictured) had just imposed a tax on Christmas!

Or not:

The push for a Christmas tree "tax" is back.

Think there's a reason for the scare quotes?
Read more »

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Don't give up your day job

This is the first and greatest commandment of knockoff doggerel: It has to scan. Not "almost," not "most of the time," but relentlessly and throughout, else you are no craftsperson. And that increases the likelihood that you will be mocked through the streets by urchins. Take it away, Las Vegas Review Journal!

’Twas the season of Christmas, and all through the land

OK so far ...

Were signs and symbols some folks couldn’t stand

BZZZZT! Those pesky anapests claim another victim.

The evergreen conifer many decorate with glee,
But don’t you dare call it a Christmas tree.

Those two kind of work, if you close your eyes and imagine the Child Knights of the Round Table as voiced by Yogi Bear.
Read more »

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Monday, December 23, 2013

Sadly, no

Sad news for the New York Post. Not only is your "exclusive" not exclusive, but you aren't even the only tabloid in town to use "hooker-happy" as a modifier for "Spitzer."

It's always the 1940s somewhere.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Today in sports

Hey, Matt. Your team's down a point at halftime. What are you supposed to do, stand up and yell?

No, really. There's a reasonable chance that Matt Drudge, hard-core political journalist that he is, might have been to a basketball game at some point. Worse, much of his audience has probably done the same thing. Wonder what they'd think if they knew that the photo didn't actually come from the witches' Saturnalia mass held over the twitching corpse of the American dream?

Friday, December 20, 2013

One out of three ain't bad

Well, no. No and no. There's no indication that alligators have become "popular guards for drug dealers," and no "authorities" paint this as a "growing trend." I suppose it's technically a "crime" story, in the Elmore Leonard sense of people bumbling through illegal stuff on their way to something more interesting, but basically we have a breathless 1A trender that falls apart when you start pulling at the threads. So let's:

Looking for more bite than bark?

Drug dealers, long associated with aggressive dogs like pit bulls, are of late opting for a more cold-blooded accomplice to protect their business interests: the alligator.

Getting an idea of what sort of evidence ought to follow?

Read more »

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wishful thinking

No surprise from the Drudge Report here. I mean, everybody knew that as soon as the program of bond-buying macroeconomic support (that'll be the "pump") was slowed, the hitherto rampaging stock market would go to hell, and we all know which Kenyan Keynesian socialist marauder to blame for that, don't we?

Read more »


Friday, December 13, 2013

I come, Graymalkin

That's such an awesome bit of hed writing that you almost wish it had something to do with the story it refers to. Apparently, the selfie wasn't the problem after all:

Maybe he went into sugar shock over a Danish pastry.

The president of the United States, leader of the free world, standard-bearer for everything upright, good and wholesome about the nation he leads, lost his morality, his dignity and his mind, using the solemn occasion of Nelson Mandela’s memorial service Tuesday to act like a hormone-ravaged frat boy on a road trip to a strip bar.

Which may be the first time the poor guy's been on the receiving end of the "do you mind if we dance with your dates?" question at a Murdoch property. But onward:

In front of 91 world leaders, the mourning nation of South Africa and Obama’s clearly furious wife, Michelle, the president flirted, giggled, whispered like a recalcitrant child and made a damn fool of himself at first sight of Denmark’s voluptuously curvy and married prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
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Thursday, December 12, 2013

How the other half lives

You might indeed have awakened on some planet with twelve ammonia-fueled suns, whereon the feckless Kenyan's handshake with the murderous dictator of Cuba was dwarfed only by the "international incident" he and his friends created with somebody's iPhone:

Call it the selfie seen 'round the world.

No, don't. Has no one at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network even heard of the list of Forbidden Ledes?

Among the enduring images from Nelson Mandela's massive memorial service in Johannesburg Tuesday will be one of a jovial President Obama taking a cell phone pic with his seat-mates, Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Britain's David Cameron.

As the three of them smile for the camera, a stern-looking Michelle Obama can be seen staring straight ahead, hands clasped. As if to remind anyone who sees this photo years from now that it was, after all, a memorial service for one of the great human rights leaders.

More about that in a minute, because we're skating up to the point at which the goofy theoretical stuff actually starts to explain the practical stuff fairly well. But first, this:

The tsk-tsk-ing could be heard across continents.
Read more »

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Thursday, December 05, 2013

Elongated arboreal arrangement

This just in from the Department of Non Sequitur and Novus Ordo Seclorum:

Michigan is home to what’s believed to be the U.S.’ largest singing Christmas tree.

And that has nothing to do with the municipalities that have decriminalized pot.

Uh, right. In case you're completely unfamiliar with the topic (the AP photo above of the Charlotte Choral Society appeared in the Chicago Trib in December 1962), let's explain:

A singing Christmas tree is a multi-leveled conical-shaped structure, filled with singers performing Christmas carols. Michigan’s tree is so unusual that it’s drawing the interest of the Travel Channel.

The home base of the country’s No. 1 such acoustic arboreal arrangement — in height and in number of carolers — is in Norton Shores, a Muskegon suburb. The Mona Shores High School Choir has 225 in its singing Christmas tree, which comprises 15 tiers and stands 67 feet tall — the equivalent of a five-story building. Another 41 singers, who don’t fit in the tree, stand next to it.

Remember, editors: Friends don't let friends slip on elongated yellow fruitpeels.