December 31, 2006
Is Charisma Necessary for the Presidency?
|[Posted by ]|
With the next Presidential election a mere 22 months away, Hillary Clinton's campaign is faltering. Her advisors' solution is to launch a "charisma offensive". I suppose it makes sense that partisan political advisors assume that their candidates problem is one of perception, rather than substance, but I still find it insulting. It's as if they believe Americans will vote for anyone if the package is nice enough. Call me naive, but I believe that voters do actually care (at least a little) about how a candidate stands on the issues.
Is charisma a prerequisite to the Presidency? I say "no". Charisma is a rare quality, and few people, let alone Presidents, have it. Let's review:
- George W. Bush: no charisma
- Clinton: charisma
- George H.W. Bush: prickly old fart, no charisma
- Ronald Reagan: charisma, charisma, charisma!
- Jimmy Carter: yeah, right
- Gerald Ford: bumbling everyman, no charisma
- Richard Nixon: smart & sneaky, but no charisma
- Lyndon Johnson: sleazy partier, no charisma
- John F. Kennedy: sleazy partier, but had charisma
- Dwight Eisenhower: no charisma (for a WWII general who did have charisma, please see George S. Patton
- Harry Truman: charisma - the buck stopped there
The vast majority of Presidents, even in the television age, lacked charisma. Of course they all had other leadership qualities, but no charisma. Hillary Clinton doesn't need charisma to get elected, she doesn't even really need to be likeable (see George H.W. Bush & Richard Nixon above). She does, however, have to have a message that the American public wants to hear. When you say things like "We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good", you're going to have a hard time getting votes. It doesn't matter how nicely that package is wrapped. What's inside still stinks.
December 29, 2006
The Affection for Ex-Presidents
|[Posted by ]|
Gerald Ford was portrayed as a bumbling, stumbling fool for much of his Presidency. But as time passed, he was seen as American's "everyman" President. From a classic Simpsons episode where he asks Homer to join him for the football game and nachos and beer to a recent article in the Wisconsin State Journal, Ford, like many an ex-President before him, is seen in a more positive light.
Where does this affection for ex-Presidents come from? I understand the outpouring of love for Ronald Reagan, he was a great man. But Ford? Even Nixon was praised by the likes of then-President Clinton at his funeral.
I guess time not only heals the wounds no one can see, it also gives us the perspective we need to see the whole person. With very few exceptions, no leader is all good or all evil. It's hard for me to imagine, but I'm sure that someday conservatives will recognize Jimmy Carter for his work with Habitat for Humanity and Bill Clinton for his williness to let the states take the lead on issues like welfare reform.
And someday, maybe even the Bush=Hitler crowd will be able to take a moment and admit that our current President isn't, in fact, a Nazi. Maybe they'll praise him for not busting out the nukes right after 9/11 or for just being a good family man or something, anything. Hell, even Hillary Clinton's critics will find something nice to say about her when the time comes!
Now if only we could figure out how to be this rational & understanding with people who are still alive.
December 28, 2006
College Bowl Pool Standings
|[Posted by ]|
Welcome to bowl season. Our annual bowl pool is in full swing. And, looking at the standings, I realize that I have no idea who most of you people are. We must have a lot of lurkers who read our college football content. That's cool, but it'd be awesome if y'all would comment and at least tell me how much my picks suck.
Anyway, right now our pool leader is Scott K. with team "HONYOKS." Even more impressive is the fact that Scott is in 7th place in the overall standings at CBS. Way to go, Scott, whoever you are ;-)
For the record, I'd also like to state that the rest of you are getting beat by a girl. Ha!
December 27, 2006
The Wussification of America, part CXXVII
|[Posted by ]|
I watched Talladega Nights for the first time the other day. I loved the movie, and, like everyone else, I laughed when Ricky Bobby and his wife declared that they named their children "Walker" and "Texas Ranger" because they wanted to raise winners. Unfortunately, I think America is on a path to being filled with a bunch of "Dr. Quinns" and "Medicine Womans". Why? Because we're raising a generation of wimps. Well, at least that's what they're going to be if "concerned" parents continue to get their way.
This isn't the first time I've bemoaned this trend. But, this latest episode in the continued wussification of America's kids hits close to home. My 18-year old nephew has been banned from his high school's home and away basketball games. I know what you're thinking. He must have smuggled in alcohol or led the crowd in an obscene cheer. Nope. His "crime" is nothing more than excessive team spirit. "Concerned" parents were upset because fans (of which my nephew was identified as the ringleader) held up newspapers or turned their back when the opposing team was introduced. It gets even worse. These rabble rousers were also guilty of "yelling too loud" when the opposition shot free throws.
Sadly, I'm not making this up. How in the world do we expect kids to learn how to deal with real adversity when we won't even let them deal with trivial problems like playing basketball in a hostile building? The "concerned" parents claim that they were upset because their precious darlings weren't shown enough "respect". You know how you earn respect? You go in and beat the home team. You don't have Mommy & Daddy make it all better.
The Four Dumbest Things Said in 2006
|[Posted by ]|
In a year filled with feet in mouths, here are what I think are the four dumbest quotes from 2006.
First, we have a selection from a frequent filler of mouth with feet, John Kerry:
You know, education, if you make the most of it, if you study hard and you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, uh, you, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.
Not surprisingly, the troops still aren't over that one yet.
Next up is that well known charmer and pointer-out-er of "offensive" speech, Rosie O'Donnell:
You know, you can imagine in China it's like, 'ching chong, ching chong chong, Danny DeVito, ching chong chong chong, drunk, "The View," ching chong.
She's so sensitive, isn't she?
Speaking of charming and delightful people, former Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin's quote about current Cowboys QB Tony Romo certainly belongs on the list:
He doesn't look like he's that type of an athlete. But he is. He is, man. I don't know if some brother down in that line somewhere, I don't know who saw what or where, his great-great-great-great-grandma ran over in the 'hood or something went down. If great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandma pulled one of them studs up out of the barn, 'Come on in here for a second,' you know, and they go out and work in the yard. You know, back in the day.
And finally, no list of stupid quotes would be complete without Miss Kellie Pickler:
What's a Ballsey?
What's a ballsey, indeed. Okay, those are my picks, what are yours?
December 20, 2006
Random Thoughts - Christmas Week Edition
|[Posted by ]|
- People realize that if Bush is impeached he'll still be in office, right? I've seen so many "Impeach Bush" signs and bumper stickers lately and I'm afraid that those people are setting their expectations way too high. I'm very concerned about the emotional well being of Madison's liberals
- I would love to get an email from a retailer today or tomorrow that just said "Ha! Ha! You're screwed! It's too late to get anything in time for Christmas. We hope you learned your lesson, loser!"
- I know it's not cool to watch Survivor anymore, but this season (it just ended on Sunday) was exceptionally good. The winner, Yul, was kind, athletic and intelligent and the runner-up, Ozzy, was extraordinarily athletic, introspective, and full of actual survival skills. As a viewer, it was so satisfying to see deserving people win for once.
- Terrell Owens sucks in so many ways. I saw an interview with him and Michael Irvin (who also, by the way, sucks). Irvin confronted TO about sleeping during meetings and TO responded by asking Irvin if he ever slept through meetings. Then they both yukked it up. Professional athletes have no idea how the rest of us live, do they? Their fans don't sleep their way through business meetings. They don't spit on people who disagree with them. They don't openly mock their bosses. Owens wouldn't last a single day in the real world
- Sometimes the best gifts really are free. My office does the Secret Santa thing and some inspired person is giving their giftee a series of "Brett Favre" autographed items. The first was a simple person letter from "Brett". It's brilliant and I'm so jealous I didn't think of it first. Next year...
- Other people can have their turkeys and hams on Christmas day. To me, nothing is better than Christmas brats.
- 60 Minutes unearths 16 miles of Holocaust records. Iran questions the timing.
- It's almost time for another season of American Idol. W00T! It's possible that we may even have a professional singer/songwriter to help recap the upcoming season's episodes. So, look for something more insightful than "he sucked".
- Finally, Merry Christmas everyone! Thanks for making writing here fun.
December 19, 2006
'Standing Firm,' Minnesota Style
|[Posted by james]|
WCCO News is reporting that the University of Minnesota is "Standing Firm" by refusing to play against the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux until they change their nickname.
The University of Minnesota's athletic director said the school has not strictly enforced a 2003 policy that discourages games with teams using American Indian nicknames and mascots. But that's about to change, according to Joel Maturi, university athletic director.
Wow, way to take a stand Maturi! I mean, I personally feel that your decision is idiotic, but at least it's bold - putting the University's money where its proverbial mouth is. Right?
Err, not quite. The article continues:
Maturi said his school won't compete against the University of North Dakota in any sport except men's and women's hockey because of UND's Fighting Sioux nickname.
Maturi said the policy won't affect other schools in the University of Minnesota system, such as Crookston and Duluth.
OK, let me get this straight:
- UMN only plays against ND in two sports right now - men's and women's hockey. The schools will continue to play those games. (Did I mention how much money the U makes from hockey up here?)
- The other Minnesota campuses, who do play against the Sioux, will continue to do so.
Yes, that's right -- WCCO is calling the decision to make no changes whatsoever by continuing to play hockey against UND "standing firm." Excuse my while I fall all over myself laughing at these fools.
December 13, 2006
Top Holiday Songs
|[Posted by ]|
It's that time of year. I'm slowly being driven mad by the sound of christmas carols, both modern & traditional, being played on TV, on the radio, in the mall and even over the intercom at work. It's enough to make a scrooge out of anyone! But instead of stealing Christmas from the local Whos, this year I'm going to embrace Christmas music. I'll start with my definitive top ten list of traditional and modern holiday music.
10. God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen: I like the fact that this song literally mentions Satan. Plus, I enjoy the repeating "O Tidings of Comfort & Joy (Comfort & Joy!).
9. The Twelve Days of Christmas: Has anyone ever made it through the entire song? Anyway, I look forward to the yearly report of how much the gifts in this song would cost in today's dollars. Does anyone know how much Lords are going for these days?
8. Winter Wonderland: I like a mix of religious songs, Santa songs and seasonal tunes. To me, this is easily the best traditional seasonal song - much better than stuff like "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire". After all, who roasts chestnuts?
7. Jingle Bells: This is an average song, but the potential parodies are priceless: "Jingle bells. Batman smells. Robin laid an egg. The Batmobile lost its wheel. And the Joker got away. Hey!"
6. Feliz Navidad: I'm a sucker for bilingual holiday songs.
5. Silent Night: I prefer it in the original German, but even in English this song is special in its simplicity.
4. O Come All Ye Faithful: As with Silent Night, I'd rather hear this as "Adeste, Fideles" as it brings back happy memories of the Latin mass.
3. The Little Drummer Boy: It doesn't get any better than "pa-rum-pum-pum pum".
2. Joy To The World: I like Christmas trees that are bright and bold and so, not suprisingly, I tend to like Christmas songs that are the same way, like this one.
1. Do You Hear What I Hear?: On the other hand, my #1 traditional holiday song is a little mysterious with an awesome first line. "Said the night wind to the little lamb, do you see what I see". It also has a nice lyrical progression: the night wind tells the lamb. The lamb tells the shepherd boy. The shepherd boy tells the king. The king tells everyone. It's way cooler than a Christmas carol needs to be. But lucky us that it is!
10. Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer: Yeah, I know it's annoying, but after all the solemn and joyful and spiritual traditional songs, it's time for some cynicism. Whew.
9. Last Christmas: What? You don't like Wham? Say what you will about George Michael's personal life, the fact is that the man can sing. Plus, there's got to be a place on the list for a sad song for all those depressed folks.
8. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home): I'm thinking of the U2 version here. He does "yearning" like no man alive.
7. Christmas Wrapping: The Waitresses, who most memorably sang "I Know What Boys Like", contribute a little punk and humor to the list.
6. The Chanukah Song: Adam Sandler's now-classic song is the reason this post is entitled top "holiday" songs, if any of you wanted to know. I wonder if there are any Kwanza songs?
5. Santa Baby: I like the Madonna version. If you're choosing a sexy Christmas song, this one is way better than dreck like "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus". Blech.
4. Santa Claus is Coming to Town: I'm thinking of the Bruce Springsteen live version. I'm not a big fan of the Boss, but I can still appreciate the way he plays with his audience and gives them such a great time for their money.
3. Fairytale of New York: When Kirsty MacColl & The Pogues got together to record this, lightning struck. They created a sad & bitter, but still beautiful song. Just check out the lyrics.
2. Christmas in Hollis: This song by Run DMC is a favorite of BVBigBro. You gotta love a rap Christmas song with lyrics like "the note's from Santa and the dough's for ME!!!".
1. Do They Know It's Christmas?: Could it be anything else? No song is so full of meaning and also so full of pop sensibility. It not only puts all other charity songs to shame, it also puts all modern Christmas songs to shame.
December 10, 2006
Amazing Race Recap - The Finale - All Hail the Addicts (and Models!)
|[Posted by ]|
Tonight on the Amazing Race, Tyler & James the apparently not-gay former drug addicts (and models) came away with the victory and million dollar prize. They beat out Rob & Kimberly mainly because they were able to find a statue in New York City's East Village before the bickering duo. While I found myself rooting for Rob & Kimberly, I'm happy that Tyler & James won, although I still wonder about the nature of their relationship. Other highlights & lowlights of the episode:
- In the Roadblock in France, team members had the opportunity to parachute onto Omaha Beach. What an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience. Of course, WWII history buffs know that the US troops parachuted behind Utah, not Omaha, Beach, but still...a very cool and historically relevant task for Americans. Bravo!
- Team Alabama was out of the running early after they tried to get a flight to New York out of Orly instead of Charles de Gaulle. I've never been to France and even I knew that was a silly move. As a viewer, however, I was thrilled because the last thing I wanted to see tonight was Karlyn get rewarded for her horrible behavior with $500,000. I lived through Flo people, that's enough!
- I liked the wording of the final task "convince a New York cabbie to drive you 56 miles". Unfortunately, the cabbies seemed all too willing to play along. I don't blame them. A camera crew=big bucks!
- The best thing about tonight was the promo for Amazing Race All Stars. Although they claimed the teams were still secret, just do a few internet searches. I'm sure you'll come up with a few lists of the participants and then you'll be eagerly awaiting that Race as much as I am!
As always, be sure to check out the Viking Pundit for more on the Amazing Race.
December 08, 2006
College Football Bowl Pool - the 2006 Edition
|[Posted by ]|
Another college football season has come and almost gone. While the nation's top football-playing student athletes are busying studying for final exams, it's time for the rest of us to study the bowl matchups. Yep, that's right. It's Bowl Pool Season.
We found a pick 'em pool at CBS Sportsline. To join our pool, just click here. You'll have to complete a short registration, but then you're ready to join our "Buddy Group", "Last Hurrah".
Pick all 32 games straight up, along with your confidence points. A note on the confidence points, the higher the number, the more confident your are. At the end of Bowl Season we'll declare a winner and send a prize your way. Bowl games start on Tuesday, Dec. 19th, so be sure to get your picks in by then.
December 03, 2006
Amazing Race Recap - Episode 13 - Bye Bye Blondes
|[Posted by ]|
The Amazing Race has a long and glorious history of eliminating some of my favorite teams right before the finale: Kevin & Drew, Cha Cha Cha, Derek & Drew and the Clowns, among others. Tonight, it was the Beauty Queens turn to be Philiminated. I don't really love Dustin & Kandice, but the fact that the other teams hated them so much made me root for them. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough. Highlights & lowlights from the episode:
- I've also been fascinated by Spanish tomato throwing festivals, so it was great to get a taste of that tonight. I thought it was hilarious that the teams who did that Detour were so willing to stop looking for the clue in order to retaliate against the tomato-tossing youths
- I think someone on the Race's production team fell in love with the Atlas Mountains, because we sure saw that twisty-turny mountain road enough.
- I generally don't care for eating Roadblocks, but tonight's task in Casablanca was better because it wasn't so much about eating as it was about preparing food. It's the little differences that count
- Karlyn is perhaps the most unpleasant person I've ever seen on the Amazing Race. That includes Jonathan of Jonathan & Victoria and Ma Weaver. What a sour, sour girl.
- Kimberly's meltdown at the Detour was fun to watch, but it was no "my ox is BROKEN!". Good times. Good times.
Next week it's the finale. I'm rooting for anybody but Alabama. For a more detailed recap, be sure to click over to the Viking Pundit.