Friday, April 27, 2012

Bobby Newport Gets Ambitious

The current Parks & Recreation storyline features protagonist Leslie Knope running for city council against Bobby Newport. Newport is the son of the wealthiest man in town (owner of a candy company), and he is basically an utterly unaware moron. He's not a "bad guy", per se -- in fact, his main flaw is he seems utterly oblivious to how anything matters to anyone. As far as he's concerned, everyone should be happy all the time -- not realizing that not everyone has a trust fund they can dip into when times get rough.

I'm starting to view Mitt Romney as similar. He's not as obviously dumb as Bobby Newport is. But he just seems completely unaware that not everyone has a free pile of familial wealth to dip into when things aren't going well. Responding to the issue of student debt, Romney recommends ... having mommy and daddy give you a $20,000 loan. Of course, I'd imagine a substantial majority or recent college grads don't have parents with a spare 20 grand they can just lend at will. But for Romney, it just seems clear as crystal.

Marxist Cannibal Nazis from Kenya!

Barack Obama wants to eat your babies:
"This is so reminiscent of the Twilight Zone episode 'To Serve Man,' " West wrote. "Obama and his liberal progressive disciples are the modern day Kanamits."

For those of you not intimately acquainted with insults taken out of television episodes from 1962, the Kanamits were a race of nine-foot-tall aliens that come to Earth and cure famine, blight, and nuclear warfare. They also bring in advanced technology to solve the world's energy problems. In other words, the Kanamits were acting like dirty, rotten progressives.

The problem, though, is that the Kanamits don't have noble intentions -- their kindness is really just a not-very-elaborate ruse to fatten up the human race so they can be carted back to the Kanamit home planet to be eaten. A Kanamit book called To Serve Man that was discovered by the humans turns out not to be about helping man at all -- it's a cookbook. (Get it? Serving man?)

The man is unreal.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Jesus Loves Superior Firepower

Franklin Graham promotes bombing Syrian airstrips to protect civilians from the Assad regime. This, in of itself, may not be a fringe position, but Robert Farley is surely correct that the rhetorical decision to cast the F-15E Strike Eagle in the role of the Good Samaritan may be a little incongruous.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Playing Nice When Concurring Rough

Professor Kerr offers his response to my post on the judge as moral arbiter. Frankly, I don't find much to disagree with. And much of that boils down to the simple point that while I don't have an intrinsic problem with opinions like Judge Brown's, this one in particular was poorly formed -- it was not exactly the shining moment for the genre.

I certainly did not mean to imply that judges should be intemperate or injudicious in their language. Obviously, judges (really, all of us) should strive to be polite and well-reasoned when making arguments, and perhaps judges in particular should be especially attentive to that virtue. To the extent that Judge Brown's opinion fails in that, it is deserving of criticism -- but that's a problem of rhetoric, and I don't see it as a necessary part of the type of opinion I'm defending.

I do think judges have the right to extend wide-ranging critiques of whole lines of doctrine, same as of individual cases. If the problem is that Judge Brown did not support her arguments with well-reasoned analysis, then I agree she should reason better or come up with more defensible policy beliefs. But I think Professor Kerr and I generally agree that tempered, well-mannered and well-reasoned judicial opinions that are designed to either guide legislators (or other judges) or prevent wrongful appropriation of moral credibility are permissible, and may often be salutary.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Top Reality

Last Tuesday, I saw my first episode of Top Shot on the History Channel (they're in the middle of Season 4).

By this weekend, I had completed watching all of seasons 1 and 2 (the only ones available on Netflix). That's a rather brisk pace, even for me -- and particularly so given that I have no shooting background or any real desire to fire a gun (ditto for Jill, who really likes the show too). So what gives? Why is Top Shot so compelling? I can think of a few reasons.

* Genuinely interesting challenges. Top Shot is very good on variety, not just in the weapons they use but the way they have them used. Almost every episode involves people doing things that just look cool.

* (Relatively) little drama. There's not none -- there are definitely cliques that form and alliances and such (more in Season 2 than Season 1). But it's not forced, and it's not rammed down your throat.

* Great camera work. The high-speed cameras mean you get to watch bullets piercing jugs of liquid in exquisite slow motion. That never gets old.

* It's objective. There's really no place for biased judging like on, say, Project Runway. You hit the target or you don't. You go faster or you go slower. No excuses. No way for weak shooters to slide by because they have a back story the producers like.

* I can appraise it. Listen, I really like Hell's Kitchen. But at some level, I'm just taking the announcer's word for it as to what's happening and how people are doing (wow, I bet that beef wellington really was delicious!). By contrast, on Top Shot I can see what is happening. I see that the target was hit, or I see that it wasn't. I don't feel like I'm being led by the nose.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I See Gay People

This year's Jerry Falwell Teletubby Memorial Award goes to ... Tony Perkins!
These days, you can't get a sugar high without experiencing a cultural low. Hello, I'm Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. There's trouble in candy land. After more than 70 years together, Mike & Ike are calling it quits. The duo is staging a gay divorce as part of a new ad campaign to draw in younger customers. In this society, even candy has an agenda! From Facebook to Tumblr, the fruity pair says, "The rumors are true. We just couldn't agree on stuff anymore." Starting this summer, the company will spend $15 million on billboards and TV commercials that poke fun at the breakup. It's just another subtle example of society chipping away at the value of marriage. And I don't know what's more disturbing--that advertisers think divorce appeals to kids or that sexualizing candy will make people buy more.

I suppose at least Perkins has the fact that Mike & Ike have two dudely-sounding names and are presented as being in a marriage -- all Falwell had to go on was Tinky Winky's triangle symbol and purple color. But it's tough to live up to a legend like Falwell -- kudos to Perkins for giving it his best shot.