body~politic

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fringe: The 10 Best Moments of 2009

http://www.fringebloggers.com/fringe-the-10-best-moments-of-2009/#more-13439



Fringe: The 10 Best Moments of 2009

by Roco on December 31, 2009 · 6 comments

Fringe: Best Moments 2009

With 2009 nearing its end we thought we’d follow up our “10 Most Fascinating Characters” retrospective with a look back at our 10 Best Fringe Moments from the past year. Let me tell you, it was NOT easy to select just 10 moments from the 20 episodes that aired in 2009. However we painstakingly cast our minds back to the very best (and in some cases, most significant) moments from those episodes and came up our ordered list, counting down to what we believe was the very best Fringe moment of 2009.

See whether or not you agree with our choices below the jump.

10. Jones Opens a Door (”There’s More Than One of Everything”, episode 1.20)

Jones

David Jones was a fantastic character with many highlights during his short stint on the show. One of our favorite Jones, and indeed, series moments came as he opened the doorway to over there only to be thwarted at the last moment by that pesky Peter. There he was bandaged up like the invisible man, his molecules disintegrating and yet he still had time to reel out one or two classic Jones lines. We particularly love the way he said “your bullets just go right through me”. The man went far too soon, but thank goodness there’s more than one David Jones.

9. Olivia Returns (”A New Day In The Old Town”, episode 2.01)

If I lie here I might get the day off

What can I say, some moments are just visually impactful. The sight of Olivia doing her very best Superwoman impression as she came crashing back from her visit to the other side was quite simply stunning. And haunting! We debated whether this moment really deserves to be in our top 10 moments of 2009, but in retrospect we think it encapsulated the return of the show perfectly and the scene in general condensed a lot exposition.

8. Grave Mistake (”There’s More Than One of Everything”, episode 1.20)

We had figured it out long before the reveal, nonetheless the confirmation that original Peter was both dead and our Peter was from an alternate reality was one of the most powerful Fringe moments of 2009. The fact that no words were required to make this scene work speaks volumes. The loss, the pain, the deception -- all summed up in the tears of a father.

7. Olivia Remembers (”Momentum Deferred”, episode 2.04)

I'll ring your bell if you're not careful..

Or, the “Olivia in Wonderland Tea Party”, as I like to call it. Although the scene had some contrivances in the way it was presented (i.e. continuity from the season 1 finale went right out of the window), it was visually memorable and loaded with important information, including; The First Wave, The Storm and the symbol, Bell’s illness and the suggestion that he’s trapped on the other side. I especially loved the time-slips which helped to illustrate the jet-lag, or displacement that comes with crossing over in the way that Olivia did. Olivia really cemented herself as my favorite when she stood there, arms folded and laid the smack down on doctor Bell:

Olivia: Oh, I can grasp it just fine. I don’t trust you, Doctor Bell…or William, or…Willum…or whatever cutesy name you think might appeal to my childhood instincts. It won’t. Your company has been involved in, if not directly responsible for, some of the most horrific things that I have ever seen, to say nothing of the fact that you just yanked me into a parallel universe to warn me about an inter-dimensional war that I believe you are responsible for starting. So what I want is not warmth, or tea. It’s the truth.

You go girl! :) This was one of those moments where you just have to sit back as you realise just much far a character has grown. As Bell himself said: “You are only just coming into your domain”. As an aside, I’m curious as to why Bellie decided not to mention The Blight. Bell propaganda?

6. Lights Out (”Ability”, episode 1.14)

This moment was all about the realisation, or rather, confirmation, of Olivia’s ability, both for us as an audience and for Dunham herself. It was a special scene because David Jones had just upped the stakes by threatening to destroy countless lives unless his faith in Olivia’s ability to disarm the bomb was founded. This required Olivia -- at this stage open minded, yet skeptical of any kind of self-importance -- to dig deep and find faith in herself. Logic went out of the window as she braved the impossibilities and popped away the little lights. The moment was made all the more important because of Peter’s part in disabling the bomb. He may have just stood there but I haven’t changed my opinion that his own ability played some part in helping Olivia to disable the bomb. Indeed, events in season 2 have only solidified Peter’s mercurial talent, even if he doesn’t yet know it himself.

5. Over There We Go (”There’s More Than One of Everything”, episode 1.20)

As Olivia crossed over to the alternate universe, I felt that the audience went there with her. The reveal itself wasn’t a surprise for me, but it gave the entire season perspective. The scene was filled with powerful symbolism -- reflections, sliding doors, blue lights, and, of course, the Twin Towers pull back, conjuring a mixture of emotions including sadness and hope. And isn’t that what this show is about? On top of all that we have a physical metaphor for the twin reality concept. I still have no idea why Bell had to step out from the shadows like a crazy man -- but the scene itself worked and provided a satisfying end to a terrific prologue.

4. Bad Dreamin’ (”Bad Dreams”, episode 1.17)

This scene was so un-Fringe-like, but it worked. You’ve got Lady Gaga’s “Starstruck” and Olivia (Lane) acting like Olivia’s bad twin -- how could this not work! The girl-on girl-kiss wasn’t bad either, but that’s not what made this scene so captivating. It was dark, sexy and descriptive -- even though no words are said for over 90 seconds. Then we get the reveal -- even if you realised the trick, it was still fascinating as Olivia whispers every detail, every emotion that is coursing through Nick Lane as his feelings literally kill the dancer. The detail here is fantastic:

Olivia: The Dancer. He’s infecting her. She’s catching it. His emotions are jumping to her.

The writing, directing and acting were on top form here. In retrospect, I’d say this was one of Anna Torv’s finest performances in 2009. We also got some great comic relief with Walter, Peter and Astrid reacting to Olivia’s moans, and, we get another clue that the boy Peter has THE POWA:

Walter: Peter. Help her. Help her calm down.

*Peter touches Olivia’s hand and she calms down under the green and red blinking lights*

3. Rooftop Stand-off (”Bad Dreams”, episode 1.17)

Olivia’s rooftop stand-off with Nick Lane is a scene that has stuck with me ever since I first saw it. We got so many clues as Lane, young Olivia’s “buddy” during their childhood Cortexiphan experiments, pleads with her to kill him so that he won’t be able to hurt any more people with his ‘ability’. The emotion from Lane is touching and equally reflected in Olivia as she grapples to understand and remember:

Lane: You were always the strong one. Whenever I got scared you would make me feel better. Do you remember, Olive?

Olivia: I’m sorry, no. I don’t.

Lane: It’s OK. I think they meant for us to forget. I just couldn’t

Olivia may be the strong one but I can’t help but see Lane as a cautionary tale for the struggles that Olivia will eventually face (things have so not got bad yet). Let’s just hope that Peter is by her side if when she becomes as broken as Lane is in this scene. Somehow, I don’t think that Peter has the ‘touch’ for no good reason. Perhaps this is the pattern we should be focusing on.

And of course, the moment of levity with Peter, Walter and the crushed car is quite fantastic. :)

2. The Choice (”Grey Matters”, episode 2.10)

Choices, choices

I spoke quite a bit about this moment in our Grey Matters review, and a few weeks later, I still believe this to be one of the best and most important moments in Fringe to date. Not only do we have Olivia face to face with an antagonist who may or may not end up being sympathetic in his own right, but we have her making an important choice - prevent a crucial moment in the of history of worlds, or save Walter Bishop. Newton taunts Olivie for being “weak”, but this is much more than a jibe -- he now knows for a fact how to get to her. By saving Walter, Olivia hasn’t just saved the life of a friend, she’s left everyone around her open to attack -- Walter, Peter, Ella, Rachel, Broyles. Choosing to save Walter wasn’t, in my opinion, “weak” on a human level, but it did expose the gaps in Olivia’s armour. There’s no way the shape-shifters would have agonised over such a decision (at least from what we’ve seen). Advantage First-Wave. For these reasons alone, and for ethical and moral implications involved, this is one of those moments that will surely define the show in 2009.

1. The Truth (”Bad Dreams”, episode 1.17)

21000235

The series high -- and therefore BEST moment -- came as Olivia discovers that Walter was involved in her childhood Cortexiphan trials. Suddenly the “mysterious events” took on greater meaning as the characters begun to realise just how intertwined their lives are. The scene works on many levels, and it’s one of the few occasions where the characters spend a good few minutes just talking. But it’s the details that really get me; from the way Olivia locks the door (no-one is leaving the room until she drags some answers from Walter!), to Walter’s “where’s the fire!”, to the tender manner in which he cups Olive’s face -- sending Olivia reeling in disgust -- as the pieces begin to come together. And of lets not forget lines like this:

WALTER: It worked on perception. Carlos Castaneda, Aldus Huxley, Werner Heisenberg, all focused on one single elementary truth. Perception is the key to transformation.

PETER: Reality is both subjective and malleable. If you can dream a better world, you can make a better world.

WALTER: Or perhaps travel between them.

PETER: What did you just say?

*Walter opens a fridge door, its glass reflecting Peter*

Indeed, Fringe..indeed.

Honorable mentions: Walter finding the chapter of Ethics, death of Evil Charlie, September telling Walter “there’s more than one of everything”, Nicholas Boone asking Walter “how far would you go for someone you love?”, the death of August -- “she’s responsible for the death of one of us”, Walter watching the tape of Olive/The Incident, and Walter’s jig!

So there you have it -- our 10 best Fringe moments from a memorable 2009. What do you think? Are there any moments you think we missed? Do you have a different order? Feel free to share any thoughts that you might have.

Share and Enjoy








Kirby homeowner shoots at teen intruders; one dead, one hurt, one jailed

http://www.kens5.com/home/Teens-waylaid-by-bullets-79935967.html




Kirby homeowner shoots at teen intruders; one dead, one hurt, one jailed

by Chris Sadeghi / KENS 5

Posted on December 22, 2009 at 5:23 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 23 at 6:12 PM

******

Kirby police are continuing their investigation one day after a home invasion led a man to shoot at the intruders, killing one teen, sending another to the hospital and a third to a jail cell.

Police say the shooter, homeowner Gabriel Arenal, 26, probably won't face any charges after the shooting near the 2800 block of Von Braun and the 5100 block of Gordon Cooper in Kirby. He was taken into custody after the shooting and questioned, then later released.

17-year-old Alex Aleman was killed, and Justin Rivera, also 17, underwent surgery at Brooke Army Medical Center is is expected to survive, police said.

A third suspect, 18-year-old Oscar Alatorre, was jailed and charged with felony burglary of a habitation.









Hater sites take flight

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1109/29981.html



Hater sites take flight

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A screenshot of the website MyCongressmanIsNuts.com. is shown.
Florida Rep. Alan Grayson became the latest Democrat with his own dedicated hostile site, thanks to the recent creation of MyCongressmanIsNuts.com Photo: Courtesy

Can’t stand a member of Congress and desperately want him or her out of office? There’s a blog for that.

For many members, there are blogs or websites solely dedicated to making them look bad, designed to highlight all their foibles and offer news and commentary aimed at portraying them as unfavorably as possible.

With names like Where’s Eric Cantor?, MyCongressmanIsNuts.com, and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, these hater websites are proliferating on the Internet, providing aggrieved constituents and local activists with the opportunity to vent, usually anonymously, and offer an unvarnished partisan take on an incumbent’s performance.

For the most part, the blogs are grass-roots, citizen-driven enterprises — in other words, they are different from another species of derogatory websites that are created and maintained by national party organizations or competing candidates during the course of a campaign.

While the sophistication of the design and quality of content varies widely, there’s one common denominator: The bloggers who run them are committed to taking down their targets.

Consider Where’s Eric Cantor?, published by Bradley Herring, a 30-year-old video editor for the liberal group Media Matters who tries to spend time nearly every day commenting on — or more precisely, disparaging — Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

A sampling of recent posts includes references to Cantor as a “noted partisan hack and corrupt politician,” “a preening little twerp” and a “zombie liar.”

After launching the blog in 2007, Herring says, his site has worked its way into becoming one of the top 10 entries in a Google search of the House minority whip’s name.

“After Sept. 11, ... I saw my home representative leading the charge in the disastrous policies of the Bush administration and serving as his loyal lieutenant in the House,” said Herring, who recently moved out of Cantor’s district but still maintains the blog. “Cantor’s biggest fault was how out of touch with his district he had become, spending so little time with his constituents and so much time raising money for other Republicans. Hence the name Where’s Eric Cantor?”

Cantor, it turns out, is one of numerous House Republicans tracked by a hostile blog. Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood is on the trail of Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.). RubberstampRoskam.com monitors Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.). Other sites include DumpBachmann.com, a clearinghouse on Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), and The Idiot Factor: Todd Tiahrt’s Folly, a blog that’s been hammering Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.) for four years.

David, a 50-year-old professional who asked to remain surnameless to “protect” his job, says he averages about 20 hours per week on his anti-Roskam blog.

“I started blogging because I got tired of writing letters to Roskam and getting patronizing replies. I decided that I could have more effect on things if I made that dialogue public,” David said. “Peter Roskam is much more extremely conservative than most of his district, but I don’t think people always have a real awareness of what he is doing in Washington, how he is voting.”

Eva Young, a co-founder of DumpBachmann.com — perhaps the most comprehensive anti-incumbent blog and one that dates back to Bachmann’s days in the Minnesota state Senate — says she spends nearly an hour per day writing. Her blog’s been mentioned on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” and Young has even had an opportunity to debate Bachmann in a radio interview.

Among Democrats, higher-profile members tend to be the ones who get the hostile blog treatment, including Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, who is targeted by a handful of local blogs and websites.

Mike Thompson, who publishes the blog Beat Reid, says he has four volunteer bloggers who take turns posting and cataloging anti-Reid nuggets. All of the volunteers, he says, are white-collar Nevada constituents.






Florida Rep. Alan Grayson became the latest Democrat with his own dedicated hostile site, thanks to the recent creation of MyCongressmanIsNuts.com, a site created by a group of Central Florida Republicans. The name is a spoof of Grayson’s own website, CongressmanWithGuts.com.

The anti-Grayson site, which simply features clips of the Democrat’s controversial comments and a link to donate money to oust him, refers to itself as an independent organization committed to defeating Grayson in 2010.

“The site was formed due to outrage and embarrassment within Central Florida over Alan Grayson’s liberal positions and childish approach in Washington, D.C.,” the site’s initial press release said.

Then there is the recently launched FireSenator.com, a site that hopes to create individual blogs aimed at the nearly 60 incumbent senators who voted for Congress’s initial $700 billion bailout package last year.

Ron Davis, a 32-year-old IT administrator from Georgia who is behind the effort, has already recruited one grass-roots blogger to run the blogs aimed at Virginia Democratic Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner.

“I did this out of frustration,” said Davis, a self-described “apolitical” who initially launched FireSaxby.com last year after Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) voted for the bailout. “I thought there was no way possible [that] conservatives would keep supporting him after voting for something that fiscally irresponsible. I was always what you’d call an uninformed, straight-ticket Republican. But that vote woke me up.”

For the most part, the sites don’t attract significant traffic, and those targeted by these sites claim not to pay much attention to them.

“We are certainly not taking these websites seriously,” said a Reid spokesman. “One of the petitions on one of those sites has barely 11 people on it.”

“We just don’t pay much attention to it. He just reprints [Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] press releases,” Cantor senior strategist Ray Allen said, referring to the anti-Cantor site. “Virginia has a lot of very active bloggers in the community that we do pay attention to. This is not one of them.”

Dodd campaign spokeswoman Colleen Flanagan also dismisses an anti-Dodd site in Connecticut, noting that DumpChrisDodd.com doesn’t have much readership.

“I wouldn’t even call it a headache,” said Flanagan. “We’re aware of them, certainly, but it’s not something that’s keeping us awake at night. We’re not going to have a logical conversation with a group of people who suggest Sen. Dodd should commit suicide.”

The hater blogs, however, aren’t always easily ignored. Conservative tea party organizer Chris Ford of DumpChrisDodd.com says he has passed out 4,000 Dump Dodd bumper stickers and nearly 600 road signs. He adds that there are eight “mobile units” of volunteers that deliver signs from their cars to interested customers. The units are named after James Bond agents — 005, 006 and 007.

In 2008, when Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ran for reelection, the site DitchMitchKY.com similarly created a stir with its Internet-based activism.

In that case, graduate student Matt Gunterman partnered with local 70-year-old progressive activist Jim Pence, who followed McConnell across the state, shooting videos for their anti-McConnell site.

“We really pissed off McConnell,” said Pence. “At one point, we had 250 people in front of McConnell’s house, raising Cain.”

Justin Brasell, McConnell’s former campaign manager, said the campaign kept daily tabs on the site.

“I spent six months trying to convince Kentucky Republicans that we were going to have a tough race,” said Brasell. “Everywhere we went, whether it was a big political picnic in the country or whatever events were going on, it was all about Ditch Mitch. ... When you see a site like that, you definitely want to watch it.”









IVANA TRUMP ESCORTED OFF PLANE: NAPOLITANO DECLARES 'THE SYSTEM WORKED'

http://www.anncoulter.com/cgi-local/printer_friendly.cgi?article=348



IVANA TRUMP ESCORTED OFF PLANE: NAPOLITANO DECLARES 'THE SYSTEM WORKED'
by Ann Coulter
December 30, 2009

In response to a Nigerian Muslim trying to blow up a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day, the government will now prohibit international travelers from going to the bathroom in the last hour before the plane lands.

Terrorists who plan to bomb planes during the first seven hours of the eight-hour flight, however, should face no difficulties, provided they wait until after the complimentary beverage service has been concluded.

How do they know Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab didn't wait until the end of the flight to try to detonate explosives because he heard the stewardess announce that the food service was over and seats would have to be placed in their upright position? I can't finish my snack? This plane is going down!

Also prohibited in the last hour of international flights will be: blankets, pillows, computers and in-flight entertainment. Another triumph in Janet Napolitano's "Let's stay one step behind the terrorists" policy!

For the past eight years, approximately 2 million Americans a day have been subjected to humiliating searches at airport security checkpoints, forced to remove their shoes and jackets, to open their computers, and to remove all liquids from their carry-on bags, except minuscule amounts in marked 3-ounce containers placed in Ziploc plastic bags -- folding sandwich bags are verboten -- among other indignities.

This, allegedly, was the price we had to pay for safe airplanes. The one security precaution the government refused to consider was to require extra screening for passengers who looked like the last three-dozen terrorists to attack airplanes.

Since Muslims took down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988, every attack on a commercial airliner has been committed by foreign-born Muslim men with the same hair color, eye color and skin color. Half of them have been named Mohammed.

An alien from the planet "Not Politically Correct" would have surveyed the situation after 9/11 and said: "You are at war with an enemy without uniforms, without morals, without a country and without a leader -- but the one advantage you have is they all look alike. ... What? ... What did I say?"

The only advantage we have in a war with stateless terrorists was ruled out of order ab initio by political correctness.

And so, despite 5 trillion Americans opening laptops, surrendering lip gloss and drinking breast milk in airports day after day for the past eight years, the government still couldn't stop a Nigerian Muslim from nearly blowing up a plane over Detroit on Christmas Day.

The "warning signs" exhibited by this particular passenger included the following:

His name was Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

He's Nigerian.

He's a Muslim.

His name was Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

He boarded a plane in Lagos, Nigeria.

He paid nearly $3,000 in cash for his ticket.

He had no luggage.

His name was Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

Two months ago, his father warned the U.S. that he was a radical Muslim and possibly dangerous.

If our security procedures can't stop this guy, can't we just dispense with those procedures altogether? What's the point exactly?

(To be fair, the father's warning might have been taken more seriously if he had not simultaneously asked for the U.S. Embassy's Social Security number and bank routing number in order to convey a $28 million inheritance that was trapped in a Nigerian bank account.)

The warning from Abdulmutallab's father put his son on some list, but not the "no fly" list. Apparently, it's tougher to get on the "no fly" list than it was to get into Studio 54 in the '70s. Currently, the only people on the "no fly" list" are the Blind Sheik and Sean Penn.

The government is like the drunk looking for his keys under a lamppost. Someone stops to help, and asks, "Is this where you lost them?" No, the drunk answers, but the light's better here.

The government refuses to perform the only possibly effective security check -- search Muslims -- so instead it harasses infinitely compliant Americans. Will that help avert a terrorist attack? No, but the Americans don't complain.

The only reason Abdulmutallab didn't succeed in bringing down an airplane with 278 passengers was that: (1) A brave Dutchman leapt from his seat and extinguished the smoldering Nigerian; and (2) the Nigerian apparently didn't have enough detonating fluid to cause a powerful explosion.

In addition to the no blanket, no computer, no bathroom rule, perhaps the airlines could add this to their preflight announcement about seat belts and emergency exits:

"Should a passenger sitting near you attempt to detonate an explosive device, you may be called upon to render emergency assistance. Would you be willing to do so under those circumstances? If not we will assign you another seat ..."

COPYRIGHT 2009 ANN COULTER

US counterterrorism system works, claims Secretary Napolitano

http://www.examiner.com/x-2684-Law-Enforcement-Examiner~y2009m12d28-US-counterterrorism-system-works-claims-Secretary-Napolitano




US counterterrorism system works, claims Secretary Napolitano

December 28, 6:58 AMLaw Enforcement ExaminerJim Kouri
11 comments Print Email RSS Subscribe
Canids[1]
Fossil range: 39.75–0 Ma
Late Eocene - Recent
Golden Jackal (Canis aureus)
Scientific classification
Domain: Eukarya
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Caniformia
Family: Canidae
G. Fischer de Waldheim, 1817
Genera and species

See text

Canidae (pronounced /ˈkænɨdiː/[2]) is the biological family of carnivorous and omnivorous mammals that includes the wolves, foxes, jackals, coyotes, and the domestic dog; a member of this family is called a canid (/ˈkeɪnɨd/). The Canidae family is divided into the "wolf-like" and "dog-like" animals of the tribe Canini and the "foxes" of the tribe Vulpini. The two species of the basal Caninae are more primitive and do not fit into either tribe.

Contents

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CANADA - FLAG - IMG

Norfolk jacket

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norfolk_jacket


Norfolk jacket

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
Norfolk jackets

A Norfolk jacket is a loose, belted, single-breasted jacket with box pleats on the back (and sometimes front), now with a belt or half-belt. The style was long popular for boys' jackets and suits, and is still used in some (primarily military and police) uniforms. It was originally designed as a shooting coat that did not bind when the elbow was raised to fire. It was named either after the Duke of Norfolk or after the county of Norfolk and was made fashionable after the 1860s in the sporting circle of the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, whose country residence was Sandringham House in Norfolk.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Conceit of Government

http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/?id=110006884




Conceit of Government
Why are our politicians so full of themselves?

Wednesday, June 29, 2005 12:01 A.M. EDT

What's wrong with them? That's what I'm thinking more and more as I watch the news from Washington.

A few weeks ago it was the senators who announced the judicial compromise. There is nothing wrong with compromise and nothing wrong with announcements, but the senators who spoke referred to themselves with such flights of vanity and conceit--we're so brave, so farsighted, so high-minded--that it was embarrassing. They patted themselves on the back so hard they looked like a bevy of big breasted pigeons in a mass wing-flap. Little grey feathers and bits of corn came through my TV screen, and I had to sweep up when they were done.

This week comes the previously careful Sen. Barack Obama, flapping his wings in Time magazine and explaining that he's a lot like Abraham Lincoln, only sort of better. "In Lincoln's rise from poverty, his ultimate mastery of language and law, his capacity to overcome personal loss and remain determined in the face of repeated defeat--in all this he reminded me not just of my own struggles."

Oh. So that's what Lincoln's for. Actually Lincoln's life is a lot like Mr. Obama's. Lincoln came from a lean-to in the backwoods. His mother died when he was 9. The Lincolns had no money, no standing. Lincoln educated himself, reading law on his own, working as a field hand, a store clerk and a raft hand on the Mississippi. He also split some rails. He entered politics, knew more defeat than victory, and went on to lead the nation through its greatest trauma, the Civil War, and past its greatest sin, slavery.

Barack Obama, the son of two University of Hawaii students, went to Columbia and Harvard Law after attending a private academy that taught the children of the Hawaiian royal family. He made his name in politics as an aggressive Chicago vote hustler in Bill Clinton's first campaign for the presidency.

You see the similarities.

There is nothing wrong with Barack Obama's résumé, but it is a log-cabin-free zone. So far it also is a greatness-free zone. If he keeps talking about himself like this it always will be.

Mr. Obama said he keeps a photographic portrait of Lincoln on the wall of his office, and that "it asks me questions."

I'm sure it does. I'm sure it says, "Barack, why are you such an egomaniac?" Or perhaps, "Is it no longer possible in American politics to speak of another's greatness without suggesting your own?"

Even so sober an actor as Bill Frist has gotten into the act. This is the beginning of his Heritage Foundation speech yesterday:

You might have been wondering these last few months: Why would a doctor take on an issue like the judicial confirmation process? About 10 years ago, I set aside my medical career to run for the Senate. But I didn't set aside my compassion. I didn't set aside my character. And I sure as heck didn't set aside my principles. I got into politics for the same reason I got into medicine. I wanted to help people. And I wanted to heal. I just felt that, in politics, I could help and heal more than one patient at a time.
I admire Bill Frist, but can you imagine George Washington referring in public, or in private for that matter, to his many virtues? In normal America if you have a high character you don't wrestle people to the ground until they acknowledge it. You certainly don't announce it. If you are compassionate, you are compassionate; if others see it, fine. If you hold to principle it will become clear. You don't proclaim these things. You can't, for the same reason that to brag about your modesty is to undercut the truth of the claim.

And there are the Clintons. There are always the Clintons. The man for whom Barack Obama worked so hard in 1992 showed up with his wife this week to take center stage at Billy Graham's last crusade in New York. Billy Graham is a great man. He bears within him deep reservoirs of sweetness, and the reservoirs often overflow. It was embarrassing to see America's two most famous political grifters plop themselves in the first row dressed in telegenic silk and allow themselves to become the focus of sweet words they knew would come.

Why did they feel it right to inject a partisan political component into a spiritual event? Why take advantage of the good nature and generosity of an old hero? Why, after spending their entire adulthoods in public life, have they not developed or at least learned to imitate simple class?

How exactly does it work? How does legitimate self-confidence become wildly inflated self-regard? How does self respect become unblinking conceit? How exactly does one's character become destabilized in Washington?

The Supreme Court this week and last issued many rulings, and though they were on different issues the decisions themselves had at least one thing in common: They seemed to reflect a lack of basic human modesty on the part of many of the justices. Many are famously very old, and they have been together as a court for a very long time. One wonders if they have lost all understanding of how privileged they are to have lifetime sinecures of power and authority. Do they have any sense anymore of common human wisdom, of the normal human arrangements by which Americans live?

Maybe a lot of them aren't bothering to think. Maybe Ruth Bader Ginsburg is no longer in the habit of listening to arguments but only of watching William Rehnquist, and if he nods up and down she knows to vote "no," and if he shakes his head she knows to vote "yes." That might explain some of the lack of seriousness in the decisions. Local government can bulldoze Grandma's house because it's in the way of a future strip mall that will add more to the tax base? The Ten Commandments can appear on public land but not in a courthouse, but Moses, who received the Ten Commandments can appear in the frieze of the House but he'll be sandblasted off the Supreme Court? Or do I have that the other way around?

What are they doing? All this hair splitting, this dithering, this cutting and pasting--all this lack of serious and defining principle. All this vanity.

Perhaps Justice Ginsburg or Justice Stevens will retire soon and write a memoir: Like Jefferson I held to principle, and like Lincoln I often lacked air conditioning. But in my intellectual gifts I've always found myself to be more like Oliver Wendell Holmes . . .

What is in the air there in Washington, what is in the water?

What is wrong with them? This is not a rhetorical question. I think it is unspoken question No. 1 as Americans look at so many of the individuals in our government. What is wrong with them?







IN OTHER WORDS ...

http://www.anncoulter.com/cgi-local/printer_friendly.cgi?article=347



IN OTHER WORDS ...
by Ann Coulter
December 23, 2009

Irritated at the bumps on the road to the Democrats' Thousand-Year Reich, liberals are now claiming that Republican Senator Tom Coburn requested a prayer for the death of Sen. Bob Byrd during the health care debate last Saturday night.

Here is what Coburn actually said: "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight. That's what they ought to pray."

After reporting Coburn's remark, The Washington Post's Dana Milbank added: "It was difficult to escape the conclusion that Coburn was referring to the 92-year-old, wheelchair-bound Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.V.)."

Contrary to Milbank's claim, I find it extremely easy to get away from that conclusion. In fact, I'm a regular Houdini when it comes to that conclusion. That conclusion couldn't hold me for a second.

There are a million ways a senator could miss a vote, other than by dying. Ask Patrick Kennedy. At 1 a.m. on a Sunday night in the middle of a historic blizzard in the nation's capital, I don't think the first thing that came to anyone's mind was death. More likely it was: "Last call."

Milbank was employing the MSNBC motto, "In Other Words," which provides the formula for 90 percent of the political commentary on that network. The MSNBC host quotes a Republican, then says "in other words," translates the statement into something that would be stupid to say, and spends the next 10 minutes ridiculing the translated version. Which no one said. Except the host.

Also, by the way, Sen. Coburn did not "go to the Senate floor to propose a prayer," as Milbank reported. He was giving a floor speech in which he used the turn of phrase, "What the American people ought to pray is ..."

Inasmuch as liberals want to talk about anything but their plan to take over one-sixth of the American economy, let's talk about health care!

Democrats tout Medicare as their model for a government-run health care system, bragging about what an extremely popular government program it is.

Medicare is tens of trillions of dollars in the red
. It is expected to go bankrupt by 2017. In order to pay for Medicare alone, the government will either have to cut every other federal program in existence, or raise federal income taxes to rates as high as 77 percent.

Medicare is like a $500 hamburger: I assume it's good -- it had better be -- but no one would say, "THAT'S A FANTASTIC SUCCESS!"

Until 10 minutes ago, the liberal argument for national health care was that it wasn't fair that some people -- "the rich" -- have access to better health care than others.

In liberals' ideal world, everyone lives in abject poverty and stands in long lines, but we all live in the same abject poverty and stand in the same long lines -- just like in their beloved Soviet Union of recent memory! (Except the commissars, who get excellent health care, food, housing, maid service and no lines.)

Instead of being honest and telling us that their plan is to make health care worse and more expensive -- but fairer! -- liberals have recently begun claiming that providing universal health care will actually save money. Overnight, they went from wailing about basic human needs being "more important than bombs" to claiming: "Our plan will be cheaper!"

Hmmm, I didn't make any notes to debate the manifestly insane points. But I'm pretty sure that extending full medical benefits to 30 million people who don't currently have them -- 47 million once the federal health commission rules that illegal aliens are covered -- will not be less expensive than the current system.

You can say -- mistakenly -- that the liberals' plan is more compassionate. You can say -- also incorrectly -- that it will be fairer. On no set of facts can you say it will be cheaper.

Democrats keep citing the Congressional Budget Office's "scoring" of their bills as if that means something.

The CBO is required to score a bill based on the assumptions provided by the bill's authors. It's worth about as much as a report card filled out by the student himself.

Democrats could write a bill saying: "Assume we invent a magic pill that will make cars get 1,000 miles per gallon. Now, CBO, would that save money?"

The CBO would have to conclude: Yes, that bill will save money.

Among the tricks the Democrats put into their health care bills for the CBO is that the government will collect taxes for 10 years, but only pay out benefits for the last six years. Will that save money? Yes, the CBO says, this bill is "deficit neutral"!

But what about the next 10 years and the next 10 years and the next 10 years after that? Will the health care plan continually pay benefits only in the last six years of every 10-year period? I think their plan assumes we'll all be dead from global warming in a decade.

Also, I note that the Democrats claim it's urgent that we pass ObamaCare by Christmas, but the bill doesn't get around to paying out any benefits until 2014. Poor uninsured chumps.

In other words ... Democrats are praying for the death of Bob Byrd!

COPYRIGHT 2009 ANN COULTER

How Real Health Reform Was Killed by Politicians Trying to Look 'Moderate'

http://www.alternet.org/healthwellness/144695/how_real_health_reform_was_killed_by_politicians_trying_to_look_%27moderate%27__/



By James Ridgeway, CounterPunch. Posted December 23, 2009.


'Moderation' has come to mean weighing the interests of campaign contributors -- Big Pharma vs. the insurance companies -- with little concern for the American people.
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Plenty of countries have created excellent health care systems largely through regulation -- so why can’t we do the same? The French and Japanese health care systems, for example, do not exclude private industry. They are not socialist in any sense of the word, and even retain a role for private insurance companies. What each system consists of is a regulatory apparatus that serves as the instrument for carrying out national policy -- which is providing high quality health care for all the country’s citizens, at a reasonable cost. The regulation works because you can’t get around it, and because it was designed -- and actually operates -- in the public interest.

To achieve anything similar in the United States, however, would require a virtual revolution in how our government operates. Our system of government regulations isn’t really what we think of as regulation at all. Rather, it throws up a facade of rules, which corporations walk right through. And no wonder, since although the regulations are supposed to be arrived at independently and designed for the public good, corporations have long had a hand in writing them, as well, thanks to the power of lobbying, campaign contributions, and the revolving door between business and government.

Rather than being enacted to protect the public from the limitless greed of private industry, many regulations are actually passed in support of corporations. The worst example is probably the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is just a clubhouse for Wall Street. Another top contender is the Food and Drug Administration. The basic legislation passed by Congress in the 1930s and updated in the early 1960s set policy governing the sale and use of drugs, which demanded that companies demonstrate the proposed product is safe and efficacious. But that policy directive was quickly abandoned. Today the drug manufacturers breeze through the FDA, setting their own rules for use, establishing their own prices, and exercising their monopoly rights within the patent system which in the case of pharmaceuticals is maintained for their benefit.

An excellent article in the December Harpers, “Understanding Obamacare” by Luke Mitchell, provides a better understanding of how the American system of regulation in the corporate interest works. “The idea that there is a competitive ‘private sector’ in America is appealing, but generally false,” writes Mitchell. He continues:

No one hates competition more than the managers of corporations. Competition does not enhance shareholder value, and smart managers know they must forsake whatever personal beliefs they may hold about the redemptive power of creative destruction for the more immediate balm of government intervention. This wisdom is expressed most precisely in an underutilized phrase from economics: regulatory capture.

In the case of health care, Mitchell argues, “The health-care industry has captured the regulatory process, and it has used that capture to eliminate any real competition, whether from the government, in the form of a single-payer system, or from new and more efficient competitors in the private sector who might have the audacity to offer a better product at a better price.”

What’s really sharp about Mitchell’s analysis, though, is his recognition that “the polite word for regulatory capture in Washington is ‘moderation.’” As he explains it:

Normally we understand moderation to be a process whereby we balance the conservative-right-red preference for “free markets” with the liberal-left-blue preference for “big government.” Determining the correct level of market intervention means splitting the difference….The contemporary form of moderation, however, simply assumes government growth (i.e., intervention), which occurs under both parties, and instead concerns itself with balancing the regulatory interests of various campaign contributors. The interests of the insurance companies are moderated by the interests of the drug manufacturers, which in turn are moderated by the interests of the trial lawyers and perhaps even by the interests of organized labor, and in this way the locus of competition is transported from the marketplace to the legislature. The result is that mediocre trusts secure the blessing of government sanction even as they avoid any obligation to serve the public good. Prices stay high, producers fail to innovate, and social inequities remain in place.

This seems to me an extremely accurate depiction of the forces that have governed our current health care reform -- from the start, when Big Pharma struck a secret deal with the White House, right up to the present moment, when Big Insurance’s bag man Joe Lieberman is deciding the fate of hundreds of millions of Americans.

And no wonder, since as Mitchell points out, the “moderation” formula has been perfected not by Republicans, but by Democrats: “The triangulating work that began two decades ago under Bill Clinton,” he writes, ”is reaching its apogee under the politically astute guidance of Barack Obama.”

This is exactly how health care reform could have turned out so screwed up despite (or, as the case may be, because of) Democratic control of the White House and Congress.
















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