UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE: The Wayward Lemming Is Closed for Repairs Thursday, May 5 2016 

Alexander Hamilton, the genius of the Federalist Papers, will remain on the face of the ten dollar bill only because of a Broadway musical in which he is portrayed as a hip-hop-singing Latino.

George Mason School of Law, named after the father of the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, is being renamed the Antonin Scalia Law School as a matter of principal ($30 million, to be exact).

A transplanted 74-year-old Brooklyn Marxist who went to Moscow for his honeymoon has built a cult following of college-educated Democrats in search of an alternative to Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump, who thinks Barack Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii and Ted Cruz’s father had a hand in the assassination of John F. Kennedy, will be the presidential nominee of the party of Abraham Lincoln (who he thinks was a loser for not hiring a better bodyguard), Theodore Roosevelt (who he thinks should have made the Panamanians pay for the building of the Canal), Dwight Eisenhower (who he thinks should have finished off the Germans quicker), and Ronald Reagan (who he thinks was a fair president but a low-energy actor).

The Chicago Cubs now have the best record in baseball. Repeat: The Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series in 108 years.

Who am I to pretend to know what’s going on? I haven’t the slightest idea. Neither do George Will, David Brooks or any of the other cultural / political sages of the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. Like the polar bears in the upper Arctic swimming for their lives because the ice floes have melted, they don’t know what the hell is going on. But given the income they earn by pretending to, they can’t afford to admit it.

I can. Time to settle in for a while and try to separate the wheat of reality from the media-internet chaff. Maybe, as with those ice floes, the whole cycle can be chalked up to climate change. That at least makes sense. The Cubs being in first place doesn’t.

Sound bite to remember

“Whenever you see the crowd run one way, go the other.”

–My father’s sage advice (circa 1935)

Where There’s a Will…. Friday, Jul 3 2015 

What follows is perhaps better suited to a column by a media critic, but since George Will seems beyond their reach…

This is the second presidential election in which Will’s wife is involved as an employee of a particular candidate; which, as Richard Nixon would say, is her perfect right. However….

In his column of July 2, the Washington Post columnist excoriated Ted Cruz for his stand on a constitutional issue, writing that “some candidates are becoming too unhinged to be plausible as conservative presidents” – a thrust obviously calculated to draw conservative primary voters away from Cruz to some other candidate; after which came the line: “Disclosure: This columnist’s wife, Mari Will, works for Scott Walker.”

Oh. I guess that makes whatever Will writes about other candidates in the next sixteen months perfectly acceptable; at least as far as the Post’s editorial ethicists are concerned. Presumably the rest of us are expected to believe – given “disclosure” and all – that George and his wife have separate bank accounts.

Sound bite to remember

“We’re all hustlers. We’re as honest as we can afford to be.”

         –Lenny Bruce

Barry and the Tea Party Sunday, Aug 5 2012 

Just because a couple people on the Supreme Court declare something to be constitutional does not make it so. The whole thing remains unconstitutional.” 
Tea Party favorite Rand Paul on the Supreme Court decision on the healthcare case 6/28/12

Translated: La Constitution, c’est moi. Call it the Tea Party credo, otherwise reflected by Ted Cruz’s notion that the only way to get things done in Washington — or in his words, “Take our country back” — is for everyone to adopt his point of view.

Would Barry Goldwater agree? George Will thinks so. In a column cheering Cruz’s victory in the Texas Republican runoff for the U.S. Senate nomination, Will writes that it is Goldwater’s “spirit” that “infuses the Tea Party.”

To which Barry, if still around, would predictably respond, “B——–!” How can I be sure? Let me put it this way: I knew Barry Goldwater. I was on Barry Goldwater’s staff. And believe me, Barry Goldwater would have nothing good to say about the Tea Party.

Nor, let me add, would the Tea Party have anything good to say about Barry Goldwater. Who can doubt that a political faction that finds Bob Bennett, Orrin Hatch, and Dick Lugar not conservative enough would be fulminating today over a Republican senator who in his autobiography wrote:

“For years, the New Right preached little or no spirit of compromise—political give and take. … Public business— that’s all politics is — is often making the best of a mixed bargain….Our Constitution seeks to allow freedom for everyone, not merely those professing certain moral or religious views of ultimate right.”

So much for George Will’s notion that it’s the spirit of Goldwater that infuses the our-way-or-no-way Tea Party. But then, we have to consider Will’s perspective: While Barry was running for president in 1964, Will was away from the fray, taking his tea at Oxford.

Sound Bite to Remember

“Neurologists will tell you that medication used for seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, can introduce mental slowing, forgetfulness, and other cognitive problems.” — Tea Party fellow traveler Michael Savage on John Roberts’ vote in the healthcare case

Why 2012 Should Be a GOP Year Monday, Jan 9 2012 

“Why 2012 Should Be a GOP Year”

— Headline, George Will’s New Year’s column

The Oracle has looked into his crystal ball and foreseen the future. According to the Washington Post‘s pre-eminent conservative pundit, Republicans should “stride confidently” into the coming election year, with nothing but good news ahead – unless you include losing the presidency again to Barack Obama.

That’s what the man said: Republicans will win the House and Senate but because of a flawed nominating process will lose the White House. They can then spend the next four years blocking everything Obama wants to do in a happy state of partisan gridlock.

Flashback: I recall a bright young Post columnist once summing up a dismal political situation with the trenchant observation that “if you set your standards low enough a train wreck can be counted a success.”

That columnist, if my octogenarian memory serves, was George Will. But of course George, as he confessed in another recent column, has now reached the septuagenarian stage of life, so he can be forgiven a few lapses; such as recommending, in his  second column of the new year, that a Romney-Santorum ticket is just what Republicans need to capture the key state of Pennsylvania come November.

That would be Rick Santorum, the Great Right Hope of the moment, who lost his home state of Pennsylvania by 17 points when he ran for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Small wonder why Will is touting a Romney-Santorum ticket for the fall: He’s out to make his prediction of an Obama victory a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But I digress — a common failing among those who have lived through too many presidential elections to take the promise of “change” seriously. My original point was that if the GOP loses to Obama in November it won’t be because of its nominating process but the fact that Republicans took over the House in the mid-term elections.

Lucky Barack Obama. What would the odds against his re-election be this new year if he didn’t have an out-of-control Republican majority in the House to blame for his failure to deliver “change you can believe in.”

A little political history is in order, if Professor Gingrich won’t mind my muscling into his territory:

In 1948 Harry Truman was so unpopular that both the left and right wings of his party broke off to nominate their own candidates for president. Yet he won re-election not by running against his nominal opponent, Tom Dewey, but a Republican Congress whose time and energy had been spent trying to repeal the New Deal.

Flash forward half-a-century to find another unpopular Democratic president rescued by the mid-term election of a Republican House that undid itself by closing down the government because, as its Speaker confessed, he was asked to leave Air Force One from the rear rather than the front exit.

In that case, it was lucky Bill Clinton. What would the odds against his re-election have been in 1996 if he hadn’t had an out-of-control Newt Gingrich to blame for his failure to deliver the New Covenant he’d promised.

Obviously the idea that elephants never forget doesn’t apply to pachyderms of the political species. On the other hand their Democratic opponents have taken heed: A front-page New Year’s headline in the New York Times tells us OBAMA PLANS TO RUN AGAINST CONGRESS.

SOUND BITE TO REMEMBER

Steele might become a reasonably good writer if he would pay a little more attention to grammar, learn something about the propriety and disposition of words and, incidentally, get some information on the subject he intends to handle.

                                 — Jonathan Swift on Richard Steele

Barack and the Kingfish Tuesday, Aug 2 2011 

About that debt limit problem . . .

George Will, who has seen more erudite days as a political sage, screwed up badly in a recent column when he dismissed Barack Obama as “Huey Long with a better tailor.”

A story from my Louisiana youth to show how inapt is any comparison between the Kingfish and this president:

In the worst days of the Great Depression, midwinter of 1933, the Hibernia National Bank of New Orleans was about to close down after massive withdrawals. Desperate, the Hibernia’s directors turned to Huey for help and in short order the Kingfish lined up funds from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and the Federal Reserve.

One problem, however: The transfer of funds couldn’t be made until Monday, February 6, and since the bank would have to open on Saturday, February 4, the withdrawals would continue. Huey’s answer? Find some reason to declare a bank holiday. The problem, as historian T. Harry Williams put it, was that “February 4 was apparently the most unmemorable day in the history of the nation.”

But February 3, that was another matter. On that date in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson had severed diplomatic relations with Germany. That was good enough for Huey. Hell, said the Kingfish, a move that big couldn’t have been completed in just one day.

So it was that in 1933 both February 3 and 4 became Louisiana state holidays, the Hibernia National Bank was saved from defaulting, and the Kingfish could turn his attention to the serious business of teaching bartenders at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria the proper way to mix a New Orleans gin fizz.

Huey Long was many things – a demagogue, a megalomaniac, a clown — but he understood that leadership comes not from the audacity of hope but of action.

That said, if George Will’s comparison were apt, what would have happened had the Kingfish handled the Hibernia problem in the patented style of our 44th president?

First, he would have called a news conference, followed by a radio address, to announce the appointment of a “balanced” commission composed of auditors and creditors to conduct a study of possible options to save the bank.

Second, he would have called a news conference, followed by a radio address, to announce a meeting of New Orleans business, labor, and religious leaders to arrive at a consensus on solving the crisis.

Third, by this time the Hibernia having gone under, he would have appointed a Banking Czar to explore the possibility of asking the RFC and Federal Reserve for funds and, if necessary, declaring a holiday to prevent such a bank failure from happening again; after, of course, calling a news conference, followed by a radio address, to give us his thoughts on the upcoming 1933 basketball, baseball , and football seasons . . . .