Tuesday afternoon Open Thread

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Sorry for the silence today. I had some bills to pay this morning, and then I took my mother out for lunch and shopping. Normally, I would come home from such an outing a nervous wreck. Today, though, my oldest best friend in the world, whom I’ve known since I was three, joined us. She is an absolute delight. With her, the conversation was lively, my mother was more cheerful, we found the things my mom needed, and lunch was fun. I was so grateful for my friend’s presence and think (hope) that she also had a good time.

Anyway, this is the first minute I’ve sat down at my computer today. I’m now heading down to watching Dancing With The Stars with my daughter. I already watched it last night while she was babysitting. I do feel, though, that when a teenager begs for your company, that’s a pretty fine compliment and shouldn’t be ignored.

Here’s the usual Tuesday Amy Purdy video. I’ve gotten to the point where I no longer even notice that her legs aren’t like everyone else’s. I don’t particularly like the rumba, but this is still a good one:

Strange day Open Thread

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This has been a very strange day, starting at about 3 am when I awoke to find that the power had gone out. By the time I’d notified PG&E, I was wide awake and suspected that my day had begun early. Then, one of the dogs came down, which she only does when she needs that rare night-time walk. By the time I finished with that, I was certain that sleep had fled. Except that my dog cuddled up next to me and I was able to sleep again until my back-up alarm went off. The day has continued in that mode since then — something’s happened that shouldn’t have happened, that should have disrupted things but, instead, it actually made things flow more easily.

We often complain about Murphy’s Law days and the negative impact they have on our lives. As of now, I’m in awe about a Murphy’s Law day — everything going wrong — and the way each wrong thing has paved the way for something that’s actually better than the status quo would have been.

Anyway, what with one thing and another (including that power outage), I haven’t had a chance even to read the news. I’m heading off for a couple of hours now, but hope to write more upon my return. Until then, please enjoy this open thread. Also, I cannot guarantee that my friend the Canardvark will be able to post today, but if he does, I can guarantee that it’s really good and worth the three minutes of your time that it will take.

Oh, also, because this is the Tuesday after Dancing With The Stars, here’s another Amy Purdy moment. She wasn’t the best dancer of the evening, but I continue to be deeply impressed by her abilities:

Tuesday afternoon round-up (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesThis is one of those days where my day totally didn’t go as planned . . . but for good reasons.  How often can one say that?  Plans or no plans, though, the news marches on and there’s so much interesting stuff I want to share with you.

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When Rep. Louis Gohmert (R.) pointed out to Eric Holder that Holder seemed remarkably unfazed by the fact that Congress had held him in contempt, Holder, showing remarkable contempt for Congress, snapped ““You don’t want to go there, buddy! You don’t want to go there, okay.”

If it were me, I’d hold Holder in contempt just for that — that is, for the gross disrespect with which he spoke to a Congressman while actually appearing before Congress.  Certainly, if this had been a courtroom and Holder had  spoken that way to a judge, Holder would instantly have been cooling his heels in a jail cell.  Holder also seems to have forgotten that Holder’s an appointee (a mere employee), while Gohmert is a representative of the people.

Aside from the obvious crude, vulgar conduct, what’s noteworthy is that Holder insists that, while he’s personally pained that he was held in contempt for refusing to turn over Fast and Furious documents, he still has no intention of turning over the documents.  Holder’s arrogance tells you a lot about the state of Washington, D.C. today.  Holder knows that, because he and his boss are black, Congress will do precisely nothing to force him to abide by Congress’s demands and his constitutional obligations.

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May I speak frankly? John Kerry is a brainless, cowardly, dishonest, antisemitic cancer infecting the American body politic. To the extent he’s also Secretary of State, I’d say that his particular disease is widespread in American politics and comes from the top. Just sayin’.

***

I already heard from a reliably Leftist friend why we shouldn’t believe data showing that health insurance premiums have skyrocketed since Obamacare went into effect: Because insurance brokers are facing competition from Obamacare, the sampling of 148 insurance brokers must be discounted on the presumption that those queried were lying when they provided insurance pricing information. The friend implied that a larger sampling would have made a difference, but that’s a sop to the stupid.  If he thinks brokers are inherently dishonest because they don’t like Obamacare, then it’s irrelevant how many one surveys.

I see things a little differently. I’m pretty damn sure that, if you force everybody to buy over-the-top insurance that exceeds what most people want, and make half of the purchasers pay for the other half, premiums are going to go up quickly and frequently.

***

Still on the healthcare front, this is exciting news: four men with severely damaged spinal cords are able to move their legs again thanks to electrical stimulation that may be retraining both brain and spinal cord. That’s just totally freakin’ amazing and I hope it’s something real and not just anomalous.

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I had a whole bunch of links and arguments lined up to discuss the ironic news that the CEO of OKCupid, the company that started the witch hunt against Brendan Eich, is on record as having donated to a pro-traditional marriage politician (more than one, in fact, if you count his 2008 donation to Barack Obama). Then I read Ace and realized I didn’t have anything to add to the subject.

***

Dennis Prager explains why the Mozilla boycott is important and, more than that, necessary to preserve American liberties (emphasis mine):

As Princeton professor Robert George warned on my radio show, today the Left fires employees for opposition to same-sex marriage. Tomorrow it will fire employees who are pro-life (“anti-woman”). Then it will be employees who support Israel (an “apartheid state”).

The reason to boycott Firefox is not that it is run by leftists. Nor is the reason to support the man-woman definition of marriage. It is solely in order to preserve liberty in the land of liberty.
If Mozilla doesn’t recant and rehire Eich as CEO, McCarthyism will have returned far more pervasively and perniciously than in its first incarnation. The message the gay Left (such as the Orwellian-named Human Rights Campaign) and the Left in general wish to send is that Americans who are in positions of power at any company should be forced to resign if they hold a position that the Left strongly opposes.

And right now that position is opposition to same-sex marriage.

Think about that. In the United States of America today, the belief that marriage should remain defined as the union of a man and woman is portrayed as so vile by the Left that anyone who holds it is unfit for employment.

[snip]

The battle over Firefox is the most important battle in America at this particular moment. If you use Firefox, uninstall it, and use Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera, or Safari. For Windows, try Pale Moon, which is based on the Firefox engine and will import all of your bookmarks; for mobile devices, you can try Puffin.

America can have liberty or it can have Firefox. Right now, it cannot have both.

***

Victor Davis Hanson details how, in just five years, Obama has destroyed the world order as it existed since 1942, one that saw America use a variety of strategies to encourage countries that support individual freedom and to isolate, weaken, and perhaps destroy those that don’t. Obama has not retreated to the isolation America embraced after WWI, when it left the world alone and asked the world to leave it alone. Instead, Obama is very deliberately cultivating or encouraging freedom’s enemies, while manifestly abandoning freedom’s (and America’s) allies.

Funnily enough, Obama’s official foreign policy on behalf of the United States of America precisely tracks the legal definition of treason (18 U.S. Code § 2381):

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Allow me to channel Elmer Fudd: “Be afwaid. Be vewy, vewy afwaid.” And as Fudd wouldn’t have said, the Pax American is officially over; let Armageddon begin.

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Obama and his minions are gloating about Obamacare’s 7.1 million enrollments. They seem to have lost sight of the fact that forcing people into a government program is entirely separate from the government program’s actually functioning. Michael Ramirez hasn’t forgotten that little detail.

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Maybe none of this is surprising considering that the mayor’s name is “Outlaw”:

One-thousand “brothers in blue” came to pay their respects this afternoon to Officer Alexander Thalmann, 22, killed in the line of duty in New Bern, N.C., last week.

Thalmann’s partner, Officer Justin Wester, 23, is recovering from a gunshot wound to his leg from the shootout that left convicted felon, Bryan Stallings, 35, dead.

The incident happened March 28, in the housing projects known as Craven Terrace.

The town’s grief was made even more painful by the local administration’s handling of events following the young officer’s death.

For unknown reasons, newly elected, Mayor Dana Outlaw chose to attend Thursday’s funeral of the career criminal.

Adding insult to injury, last night’s planned memorial for local citizens to say “goodbye” to Alexander Thalmann was cancelled by the mayor’s office.

It was alleged that two of the city’s aldermen had invited relatives of the killer to attend the vigil. Rather than rescind the invitation, the city chose to cancel the event.

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You actually don’t have to go any further than the title to Daniel Greenfield’s post to know that he’s written something good and important: Islam Is What Happens When Civilization Loses.

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I’ve mentioned before the main reason an Ivy League liberal I know refused even to consider Sarah Palin as a vice-presidential candidate, despite reluctantly conceding that (a) she had more governing experience than Barack Obama in 2008 and (b) she would have been an apprentice, if she won, not the main player. That was all irrelevant. What matter was that Palin, unlike prep school, Ivy League communist Obama, “is not one of us.” I thought of that liberal when I read about Kathleen Parker’s unconscionable snobbery.

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Have you registered yet for American CurrentSee, a free online magazine that seeks to give a voice to conservative American blacks? I hasten to add here that the magazine is not limited to black writers or black issues. In other words, it’s a magazine that’s truly diverse, rather than a monolithic magazine that simply pays lip-service to some abstract “diversity.” The magazine examines politics and social issues that affect blacks, but that also affect all of us who want a strong, unified, freedom-loving country. So far, I’m pleased that I signed up.

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And finally, I continue to be completely impressed by Amy Purdy’s turn on Dancing With The Stars (this time with a new partner for the week):

Once again, Amy Purdy’s turn on Dancing With The Stars blew me away

0709-amy-purdy-1836Maybe I’m overestimating the difficulty of doing a fast swing dance with two prosthetic legs, but all I can say is that, when I watch Amy Purdy, I am beyond impressed.  She’s the one who caught meningitis when she was 19, lost both legs below the knee, and went on to become a champion paralympic snowboarder.  Now, she’s trying to become a Dancing With The Stars champion.

I don’t know that Amy will win, because there are some better dancers on the show, but it’s not always clear on DWTS that dancing is what it takes to win.  Last season, Amber Riley won, even thought she wasn’t the best dancer.  She was good enough, but Corbin Bleu was an extraordinary dancer — but she won.  Amber’s strength was facial expression and upper body movement.  Purdy has all that . . . plus she can dance. (And it doesn’t hurt that she’s working with Derek Hough who is quite possibly the best choreographer working in America today.)

Amy Purdy’s cha-cha on Dancing With The Stars

I’ve mentioned here before my fondness for Dancing With The Stars.  I really enjoy watching people learn a new skill, and I enjoy watching ballroom dancing.  This season, I was completely blown away watching Amy Purdy do the cha-cha:

Nice cha-cha, right? If you were paying close attention, you might also have noticed something about Amy Purdy: she was dancing on prosthetic legs. She caught meningitis when she was 19 and had both her legs amputated below the knees. She just won a snowboarding bronze at the Paralympics in Sochi, and now she’s on Dancing With The Stars.

Derek Hough is the perfect partner for Amy. He’s probably the best choreographer in America today, as well as being one of the best dancers. That combination will enable him to come up with all sorts of wonderful ways to work around her prosthetics. I look forward to watching Purdy for however long she lasts on this season’s show.

Because I am a pedant, I instantly used Amy to remind my children that attitude isn’t everything, but it’s almost everything. We all come into the world with certain gifts — academic intelligence, athletic abilities, artistic sensibilities, organizational abilities, etc. — but they are meaningless if we do not put any effort into cultivating those gifts, and it’s our attitude that enables us to do the hard work of cultivation.

Things that make me happy

Busy, busy morning, which means that I’m only now sitting down to write.  So that you don’t get bored while you wait for my (ahem!) pearls of wisdom (ahem!), I’m posting a clip from Monday’s Dancing With the Stars.  Watching it made me happy:  Fun music, a fun dance (I love the Salsa), two gorgeous men (waving their chests around) who move like angels, and a 16-year-old girl who ripples and spins across the floor. (Sorry about the commercial, but it can’t be avoided.)

Dancing with the Stars

I believe I’ve mentioned before that I have a weak spot for Dancing With The Stars.  It’s the only reality show I watch and there are two very specific reasons for that.  The first, shallow, frivolous reason is that the show is eye candy.  The professional dancers move so beautifully, it’s just a pleasure to watch them.  (I wish the show’s band and singers were as good.)  They also all have such lovely bodies.  I envy the women and as for the men . . . to say I lust after them is wrong, because it certainly doesn’t go that far.  I think the better thing to say is that, being a red-blooded female, I enjoy watching them.  Lots.

The second, less frivolous reason for my liking the show is the incredible pleasure I get from watching people improve and grow.  The people who come on the show moving well and continue in that vein are certainly enjoyable to watch, but the really fun ones are the people who start of woodenly stiff and, by the time they get voted off, have learned how to move.  They’ll never be great dancers, but they’ve worked really hard and it shows.  It’s like a glittery, glimmery little Horatio Alger fable each week — commit to what you’re doing, keep your spirits up, and work really, really hard, and you shall be rewarded.  Since only one “star” goes on to get the mirror ball, some might say the others aren’t rewarded, but they are.  Their reward comes from the virtuous feeling of having worked hard and gained a new skill.

Isn’t it fun to see Jacoby Jones, a phenomenal football player, take to the floor and hold his own after a couple of professionals have danced first?

What does Dancing With The Stars have to do with the presidential elections? Glad you asked.

For several years, every Tuesday and Wednesday morning, my sister has regaled me with stories about Dancing With The Stars, which is not just her favorite television show, it’s actually the only show she watches.  For those unfamiliar with DWTS, the premise is simple:  every season, a group of TV stars, singers, athletes, models, etc., is paired with the show’s stable of professional dancers.  The guests are taught a couple of ballroom dances, and let loose on the dance floor.  The same pattern gets repeated week after week, with the show turning into an elimination game that sees the lowest scoring dancer (based on judges’ scores and audience call-ins) being let go each week.  The season ends with the top three dancers facing off against each other.

After fighting against it for a while, I gave in, watched the show, and enjoyed it.  DWTS has a wonderful “getting it right” trajectory, one that sees people who have never danced before, or never danced ballroom before, getting better before your eyes.  By the end of the ten-week season, the last three guests remaining actually look like dancers, rather than like robots who have mastered steps.

The most recent season, which concluded just this Tuesday, had an unusually good group of guests.  By season’s end, the three remaining really were head-to-head in terms of “who would have expected it?” dancing talent.  These three were William Levy, a Cuban refugee, model, and Telemundo star; Katherine Jenkins, a very beautiful, blonde, Welsh classical singer trained at the Royal Academy of Music; and Donald Driver, a Green Bay Packers football player who helped propel his team to a Superbowl victory.  William Levy sold sex (woo!), Katherine Jenkins sold precision, and Donald Driver sold himself.

Here’s sex (with the dance starting around 3 minutes in, although the Cuban refugee story preceding it is fairly interesting):

Here’s precision:

And here’s charisma, with a bit of raw muscle thrown in for good measure:

Interestingly, even though Donald Driver is the only non-performer of the three, he sells it! The other two, who are both stage professionals (one acting, one singing) lacked his star power.  Driver, as you may already have heard, won the mirror ball trophy.  I was not surprised, despite the fact that, when it came to dancing qua dancing, he was probably the least good of the three.  With very little to distinguish the three, personality was the trump card.

I’ve long been fascinated by that elusive, intangible, yet very real charm that is charisma.  I’ve written here before about the most handsome man I’ve ever met, whose face I cannot remember.  What I actually remember is his charm.  I was a pretty, blonde 18-year old in Israel for the first time.  My Mom’s friend had a 25-year old son who took one look at me and said, “Would you like to come to a party with me?”  “Sure,” I replied.  He called the host, squared things away, and off we went.  When we got there, the host greeted me at the door as if I was the most important, interesting, gorgeous person he’d ever met.  “I’m so glad you came,” he said, drawing me into the room.  I was glad too.  He made me feel precious, special, and treasured.  He had charisma.  I don’t remember his face, but my heart knows he was gorgeous.

Charisma in the political world can be a dangerous thing.  Sometimes, it lands one with a great leader, such as Reagan.  Other times, that same elusive charm sees people electing a huckster to the White House — someone like Clinton, for example.  Even Clinton’s enemies couldn’t deny his warmth and charm.  Clinton may have been grossly narcissistic and corrupt, but he genuinely likes people and wants them in his orbit.  He was then and still is a most likable bad boy.

Obama is an interesting thing.  The 2008 showed that he had the power of the true demagogue, but I’m not sure so about the charisma.  I never saw it.  Unlike Clinton, who actually likes people, Obama does not.  He’s a performer, rather than a truly charismatic human being.  If he stays on script (memorized and teleprompted speeches) and if he has a publicity department to shore him up (the MSM), he sells a simulacrum of charisma, one that, in 2008, was enough to charm a population that was looking for the un-Bush, and that was decidedly bored with the completely uncharismatic John McCain.

The problem for Obama is that winning the election meant he had to get off the stage.  Since he was faking the charm, the same audiences who cheered and fainted, were suddenly presented with a much less likable version of the man.  Watching Obama over the last few years has been precisely the same as watching a commercial in which the actor, having charmingly announced “I’m not a real charismatic politician, but I play one on TV,” steps off the set and starts screaming at his fellow cast members and the crew, as he wipes off the thick stage magic that hid his acne scars.

Over the years, Obama has proven himself ignorant (Austrian language, it’s wrong for businesses to be set up to “maximize profit,” “corpse”-men, etc.), mean (“I won,” “You’re likeable enough, Hilary,” police acted “stupidly,” find out “whose ass to kick,” etc.), inarticulate, and generally not the golden boy the media sold to American audiences back in 2008.  That’s okay.  The nature of a demagogue is that he’s deeply flawed, in an antisocial way.  Obama’s problem is that he’s not selling himself.  He doesn’t deliver insults with a charming smile.  He doesn’t giggle about his gaffes, as Johnny Carson so wonderfully did:

Obama’s many fails come from a deep reservoir of anger and ignorance, and there is no smiling that will cover it up.

So, on the Democrat side of the slate we have one singularly charmless candidate.

What’s interesting is that the Republicans also have a candidate who lacks charisma.  I like Romney.  His is a personal history of hard work and good deeds.  He’s a hugely successful ordinary guy.  The media demonizes his law-abiding success (which, in a normal world, would be a good thing) and heaps scorn upon his social ordinary-ness.

Sadly, the dinosaur drive-by media still has enough power to convince voters that the perfectly ordinary, very nice Mitt Romney — the kind of guy you’d love to have as a friend and neighbor — is a boring, goofy, bully.  What will be interesting is to see whether that same drive-by media can also convince voters that the self-involved, cold, cutting, ignorant Barack Obama — the kind of guy who is reviled in a small community — is the same charismatic golden boy who ran for and won the presidency in 2008.

There is no Donald Driver here — a good all around guy, with buckets of character.  Instead, all we’ve got are here are two ordinary men (although I’d argue that Mitt is substantially smarter than Barry), with extremely different histories and world views.  One therefore has to ask, in an election in which both candidates lack that magical, elusive charm that is charisma, will the media be able to dismiss one nice, bright, accomplished guy as a boring nonentity, while building up the other, not-so-very nice guy, as the great charmer, deserving of the great American mirror ball trophy?