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In identity politics pitch, Obama leaves gays* out

Don’t have much time today to check the gay blogs and websites of gay organizations, but I’m sure they’re all in an uproar today about the president’s pitch to his base in anticipation of 2010 elections.

At Politico, Ben Smith observes:

Obama speaks with unusual demographic frankness about his coalition in his appeal to “young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women who powered our victory in 2008 [to] stand together once again.”

Ed Morrissey notes that Obama left out a few groups: “Well, at least we know who the DNC doesn’t want around in the midterms by subtraction: older white and Asian men.”  He also left out gay people.

Wonder what Joe Solmonese has to say about this.

*NB: Changed the title because initial title was inaccurate; gays weren’t the only group the Democrat neglected.

National Security Advisor’s Joke “that borders on anti-Semitic”

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:23 pm - April 26, 2010.
Filed under: Obama Watch

In an administration not known for its commitment to our staunchest ally in the Middle East, it’s not a wise move for the National Security Advisor, himself not known as a friend to the Jewish State, to crack a joke bordering on anti-Semitic.  But, with such a joke did President Obama’s National Security Advisor James Jones lead him his address last week to the Washington Institute For Near East Policy.

Asking whether the joke (which he includes in his post) was anti-Semitic, Yid with Lid offers:

Well, the White House must have thought so. The White House transcript sent to reporters after the event conveniently began a couple of minutes into the speech. The video of the event posted on the Washington Institute Web site started right after the Joke, you can even hear the end of the laughter.

At the very least it was an idiotic time and place to make the joke. Many of the attendees of The Washington Institute dinner were in fact Jewish. And the Jewish community is very nervous about the recent anti-Israel leanings of the Obama administration.

The Anchoress agrees:

All-in-all, I’d call it a very unwise joke for a security advisor to The American President to make, especially if the president is trying to convince the nation -by his words more than his actions- that he supports capitalism and the free market, the existence of Israel and the defeat of the Taliban.

The truth is the joke would have been inappropriate under any president; the White House and its administrators should never be in the business of laughing at anyone but themselves, because other-directed humor signals insecurity; self-denigrating humor does the opposite.

Noting that Jones has apologized, Jennifer Rubin offers:

Let’s unpack this. First of all, I don’t believe the joke was made up on the spur of the moment. That’s not how these things work. As a reader pointed out to me, it’s quite likely that not only Jones but also a speechwriter or two thought there was nothing much wrong with this. Second, for an administration under criticism for insensitivity or outright animus in relation to Israel, why play with fire? If nothing else, this confirms the criticism of Jones — he’s a bit of a buffoon. (more…)

Why I’m Skeptical of a Dodd-Drafted Banking Bill

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 3:00 pm - April 26, 2010.
Filed under: Big Government Follies,Congress (111th)

Given my focus on my dissertation, I have not had time to review the provisions in (or presumed to be in) the Banking Bill which outgoing U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut) had been drafting and championing.  Now, naturally, I’m skeptical of anything put forward by a career politician, a man who was first elected to Congress before the president entered high school, a man who has neither created wealth nor fostered innovation.

It seems that for folks like Mr. Dodd, “reform” means regulation, increasing the size and scope of the federal government, as if that would be the panacea to our economic woes.  And regulation favors the folks that Dodd and his Democrats so regularly decry, big banks and big companies.  They simply have more resources to comply.

Referencing those familiar with the actual legislation, the Washington Examiner’s Timothy P. Carney pretty much sums it up:

Big Business can adapt to more regulation better than small business can. Politico reported last week that the big banks “have the legal resources to deal with a consumer agency.”

Carney cites this report over at Big Government:

Many of those familiar with the banking industry, overall, say that community banks bore little to no responsibility, on balance, for the financial meltdown that occurred in 2008.  Nonetheless, an analysis of the Dodd bill indicates that if it passes, community banks will be subject to a whopping 27 new regulations that one individual who has worked with banks professionally and is closely tracking the legislation says “could threaten to put many community bankers out of business, thus reducing competition in the banking sector overall, and diminishing consumer choices.”

To folks like Dodd, regulation is the answer.  But, to those familiar with the industry, regulation may well exacerbate the problem.  What was it the Gipper said?

The New York Times Spin on Economic Recovery

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 1:36 pm - April 26, 2010.
Filed under: Economy,Media Bias

Last night just before bed, I caught (via Drudge) an article in the New York Times that while it shows the Old Gray Lady’s bias does show that she still remains a source for news.  Peter S. Goodman does his best to paint a rosy picture of a booming economy, roaring back to life under Obama’s policy.  Yet, even as he paints this pretty picture, he acknowledges that not all is not as hunky-dory as the title and opening paragraphs suggest.

Just as Goodman cites economists who favor the Times‘ worldview, Glenn Reynolds reminds us that some economists are telling us, “The stimulus didn’t help.” Compare this:

The recovery is picking up steam as employers boost payrolls, but economists think the government’s stimulus package and jobs bill had little to do with the rebound, according to a survey released Monday.

And this from the Times report:

Still, much of the improvement appears the result of the nearly $800 billion government stimulus program. As that package is largely exhausted late this year, further expansion may hinge on whether consumers keep spending. That probably depends on the job market, which remains weak.

It’s as if Goodman were oblivious to business cycles.  Anyone who took Economics 101 knew there’d be a recovery, with questions remaining as to when it would start, how long it would last and how strong it would be.  And to his credit, Goodman addresses some of those questions:

While few dispute signs of recovery across much of the economy, significant debate remains on how robust and sustained it will be. The lingering effects of the financial crisis have some economists envisioning a long stretch of sluggish growth. . . .

Since the end of World War II, the first year after a recession tends to feature growth at roughly twice the pace of the decline during the downturn, implying a current pace exceeding 7 percent. Yet even optimistic economists assume the economy is growing at perhaps half that rate.

While Goodman may indeed have found signs of life in Portland, Oregon, if he took a drive around Los Angeles, he wouldn’t see a roaring economy, but a lot of vacant store fronts with “Available” or “For Rent” Signs replacing creative displays of quirky consumer goods.

I’d have a lot more respect for the Old Gray Lady if she just acknowledged her bias.

Watching The Odyssey, Appreciating The Lord of the Rings

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:50 am - April 26, 2010.
Filed under: Movies/Film & TV,Mythology and the real world

As I begin to write the chapter which will certainly anchor my dissertation, considering the role the goddess Athene plays in the Odyssey, how she helps effect, what some scholars have called, the only real character transformation in Homer, the growth of Telemachus from a Mama’s Boy to his father’s son, I have tracked down online cheap copies of the two most famous screen adaptations of the epic.

I came away gravely disappointed, the more recent a 1997 TV adaptation far worse than the 1954 Kirk Douglas version.  And the former despite excellent realizations of Penelope and Anticleia by Greta Scacchi and Irene Papas respectively.

In the 1950s version, Kirk Douglas played the role he always seemed to play in that era (at least through Spartacus), the self-confident hero, ever smiling, rarely faltering, always declaiming, never wavering.  It was from this adaptation that I first learned about the Odyssey, having caught it on TV as a boy and remembering most clearly the scene with the Cyclops (which I loved) and forgetting nearly everything else.  Back then, it had seemed so real, I was all but certain Cyclops (Cyclopses?) existed.

And yet now, when I watched it last week, so familiar with the epic, I just couldn’t believe Douglas as the long-suffering Odysseus.  But, he at least had a more expressive face than Armand Assante, the actor who would realize the role in the more recent version.  That Italo-American actor hardly changed his expression through the flick, always dour, never determined.  He showed no none of the warm tears Homer described, when he was finally reunited with his son.

When he arrives on Ithaca, the home for which he had longed for two full decades, his face was unmoved.  No goddess was there to greet him on the shore as the owl-eyed Olympian welcomed the real Odysseus now over three thousand years ago.  Nor did she disguise him before he approached the hut of his loyal swineherd Eumeaus.  He just waltzed right in and started taking food.  Instead of sympathizing with his plight, I wanted the swineherd to slit his throat. (more…)