Monday, August 20, 2012

Stelly On The Great Reformer

I thought it was time to go for a while without writing anything about Louisiana politics. That was especially the case given all the giddiness about Gov. Bobby Jindal as a vice presidential candidate.

I thought there was even more giddiness nationwide than in the state until I saw the results of a late June CNN poll of 1,500 U.S. adults. Of these poll subjects, 43 percent said they had never heard of Jindal. On the up side, that's exactly the same percentage who said they'd never heard of Tim Pawlenty. Three cheers for the informed electorate, and for the three chairs that can accommodate it.

Jindal was getting at least some national attention. The Associated Press released a major story on July 15 that bore the headline “Gov. Jindal rehabs image by focusing on Louisiana.”

This story, which was run as the front page lead story one day in the American Press, maintained that Jindal was trying to rehabilitate his image in the country as a whole. It didn’t concern any kind of work on his image that he was doing in Louisiana.

The AP story, which was surprisingly thorough, seemed to say much of Jindal’s national clout comes from enthusiastic support by prominent conservatives. The article mentioned “repeated rounds of budget cuts to education and health care” in Louisiana during the Jindal administration, and pointed out that state “critics have complained about his deep cuts to state higher education funding.”

So, why did I write about state politics when I was determined not to? Well, the AP story quoted a local! In particular, the story quoted Moss Bluff politician Vic Stelly, who pretty strongly suggested that underneath his regal habiliments, the Great Reformer may not be so great and may not be a reformer.
"He's very self-serving," Stelly was quoted as saying. "All the so-called reforms, it'll be years down the road before we know if they amount to anything. I don't think they will."

The AP noted that Stelly had “recently resigned from the state's top higher education governing board over complaints about the Jindal administration's cuts to colleges.” Stelly’s pretty sharp. This time, he became one of the few in the state who resigned before Jindal had a chance to dump him.

And suppose Jindal does get a VP nod. Could I manage to see Jindal leave the state of Louisiana for 8 to 16 years? It would be hard. Very hard. The hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I believe I could manage it. And I can’t wait to see what he’d do to the national education system.

About Town

Boethius has come to be considered the greatest of the practical moral thinkers of the Medieval era. A new translation of Boethius’ key work, The Consolation of Philosophy, has just been published. And that’s important, because the translation is by my brother.

That’s right. The Consolation of Boethius, as edited and translated by Scott Goins and Barbara Wyman, was published by Ignatius Critical Editions just a couple of weeks ago.

I haven’t read it all yet, because when it came out, I was right in the middle of reading Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, which is a powerful long book. But I’ve read enough of this new translation of Boethius to know that there are many footnotes to the text and they’re very thorough. Whenever one reads a classic that’s properly annotated, it’s just as if one were getting a new education. (And in this case, it’s an education that comes at a very low price; the Consolation is going for just $7.95 at Amazon.)

As you’ll have noted above, this is a critical edition. That means the text of the Consolation is complemented by six essays by Boethius scholars.

I’ll tell readers more about the book after I’ve spent some more time with it. But you may not want to wait. At $7.95, you’re not going to find a better book deal this year.

Scalise Doesn’t Miss Calls

I read the following headline on July 19 on the state news blog The Dead Pelican:
“Scalise fights back against President Obama's call for more big government ...”

When I clicked the link, I expected to see a video of Scalise speaking. But in fact, I was linked to a YouTube of President Obama giving a speech on the sidewalk in front of the E-Z-Livin' Smoke and Boudin Emporium in Wagon Rut.

Obama said, "I am calling for more big government. I'm actively calling for it. Government is big. But it's not big enough for me. I want it bigger. And I want it bigger now. I'm calling for it. Calling loud. Make it happen!"

At this point, a young man, shaved nearly bald, who was lounging on the sidewalk with a can of Steel Reserve, asked a question. "Mr. President,” he said. “Mr. President! What do you mean by ‘big government’? What is it?"

"Well, young man," said the president, "big government means that the government will send you a check every month, and a pretty big check at that. You can use that check for whatever you like, so as to free yourself up to lead whatever lifestyle will give you the most personal fulfillment."

“Far out, Mr. President," said the young man. "I'm not voting, but if I were voting, I'd definitely vote for you."

"Well, sir," said the president, "I'd suggest you register to vote if the new restrictive voter registration laws in your area allow you to. You should vote against the enemies of my new bigger government — enemies like Rep. Steve Scalise of the fearsome land of Metairie, La. He’s the worst of the bunch. He fights my new bigger government relentlessly, with all the unflagging tenacity of the mongoose attacking the snake or St. George attacking the dragon. He gives me the insomnia. He haunts my dreams. He inhabits my nightmares. He keeps sleep far from me. Vote against him, sir! Vote against him!”

At that point the video ended. In defense of the Dead Pelican, I'll point out that the headline it used was the exact same headline Scalise used for a video he posted on YouTube. Why a news blog would repeat a congressman's headline verbatim, I can't say, unless it's that The Dead Pelican is at least as conservative as Scalise and just liked the way the headline sounded. If only journalists could use headlines because they like the way they sound. If it worked that way, I could have used the headline “Mellow Greetings, Earth Man” for this story.

I don't know how these Louisiana politicians do when it comes to politics. But when it comes to self-promotion, nobody can beat them.

No Austerity For Me, Thanks

In mid-July, the Associate Press reported that austerity movements in Europe have reached the point that they’ve started to affect rich people. Here’s the evidence: In Spain, the king has been asked to reduce his salary by 7 percent. That’s right: 7 percent! That knocks him down to just $334,000 a year.
I remember when some gubment budget cutters told me to scale my salary back to $334,000. Brother, did I ever raise he1l. I threw dirty napkins on the floor, flipped rubber bands against the wall and said dirty words. They got the message. It’ll be a long time before some gubment bureaucrat tries to make me get austere again.

‘Whatsa Da Shape A Da World?’

In international news, Iraqis who had been told to go to Syria to flee the violence in Iraq were told to return to Iraq on the grounds that the violence in Syria had become more severe than the violence in Iraq.

Goins Revere

Here’s a passage from the transcript of Rush Limbaugh’s July 18 radio broadcast:

“This new movie, the Batman movie … Do you know the name of the villain in this movie? Bane. The villain in the Dark Knight Rises is named Bane. B-A-N-E. What is the name of the venture capital firm that Romney ran, and around which there's now this make-believe controversy? Bain …  Do you think that it is accidental that the name of the really vicious, fire-breathing, four-eyed, whatever-it-is villain in this movie is named Bane?”

Of course it is not accidental. I know because I documented the filmmakers’ conspiracy against Romney. I secretly recorded a conversation of the key filmmakers with my Eclipse Portable Media Player when I was on the set of the Batman film on April 1, 2011. Here’s the smoking gun transcript:
Director Christopher Nolan: “Lookit, I think if we’re going to have a realistic chance of doing that shot from behind the skyscraper set, we’re going to need at least a 30-ton crane, and I think we ought to get that lined up and knocked out now.”

Cinematographer Wally Pfister: “Well, I don’t see the point of doing that until we have a complete shooting schedule. Even at this point, I’m not really sure exactly what you want me to shoot. I think it would help me a lot if I could get at least a working shooting schedule.”

Nolan: “I think Andrew knows what the shooting schedule is. Can he put it together and email it to you or do you want him to text it?”

Set Dresser Ted Altman: “Excuse me. I’m really sorry to interrupt. But don’t you think the movie should have a villain with a name that makes a reference to Mitt Romney’s past?”

Nolan: “Oh, hell yes.”

Pfister: “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Nolan: “What should we call the villain?”

Pfister: “Yeah, forget about the shooting schedule. Let’s think of a name for this sucker.”

Altman: “Well, how about Bane? Only, we’ll spell it B-A-N-E. But, obviously, it’ll be a reference to Bain.”

Nolan: “That’s pretty damn smart. What’s your name again?”

Just for the record, the villain Bane appeared for the first time in a Batman comic book in 1993 and for the first time in a movie in 1997. I learned that by spending 30 seconds on the IntraWeb.

People thought at first that Limbaugh would back away from his accusation. No such. I emailed him my video of the secret conversation I’d filmed. That must have given him fresh inspiration, because on the next day, he said this on the radio:

“They're trying to make me look like an idiot. A tinfoil-hat conspiracy kook. When all I am is Rush Revere warning you in advance, ‘The Liberals Are Coming!’ I see them hit the trail before you do. And what you're gonna have to do is, if you don't admit it yet, you're gonna have to start admitting it. I'm always right about it.”

Well, I see them hitting the trail too. They look just like pixies hitting the gossamer trail to dream land.

We can all learn from Limbaugh’s second set of comments. Here’s the lesson. If you want any amount of political power whatsoever, you must remember that the best way to convince people you aren’t a conspiracy kook is to tell them you aren’t a conspiracy kook. Are you reading this Michele Bachmann?

News You Can Use

Never keep potatoes in a balloon for more than two weeks at a time.

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