Nixon resigns: Aug. 9, 1974

This was the scene 40 years ago today:

The country was in chaos. This was a devastating speech, given by a man who had lost everything. And it was a very moving speech. I don’t know how anyone could watch it then and not cry, no matter how much they hated Richard Milhous Nixon and everything he stood for. He is the father of today’s dysfunctional Republican Party, and he showed you could win elections by cobbling together the racists of the old confederacy and the money men of the North and West.

Not to mention George McGovern was a completely incompetent candidate for the Democrats.

The overwhelmingly stupid thing about Watergate was that Nixon’s people never had to break into the Democratic headquarters in the complex to find out what McGovern was up to. The Democrats had totally blown themselves up in 1972 and there was no way in hell Nixon wasn’t going to win in a landslide.

But the thugs and criminals did their job, and the administration covered it up, and Nixon lied about it.

Want to know what’s more astounding about this? Nixon wasn’t impeached. He resigned before it happened. The last president who was impeached was Bill Clinton, and what he was impeached for, on a scale of impeachable offenses, didn’t even touch the top inch of the ice burg of corruption that was the centerpiece of the Nixon presidency.

Still, Nixon was the most fascinating president of my lifetime. I’ve read biographies and autobiographies about him, trying to make sense of how he got to this point in 1974. And at the end of it all, Nixon is immortalized in this song.

 Even Richard Nixon has got soul.

President Nixon announces he will resign: Aug. 8, 1974

I was 19 and had just returned to where I was staying after coming from a movie double feature: “The Devil in Miss Jones” and “Deep Throat.”

Which made this a surreal yet appropriate combination, especially since everybody pretty much considered Richard Nixon the Devil, and Deep Throat was the person who led the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein to the truth of Watergate.

Winning the unpopular vote

The general consensus is that in the midterm elections, the Republicans will keep control of the U.S. House and have a good chance of taking control of the U.S. Senate.

So when you read these numbers from a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, do you think there’s a disconnect somewhere in our political system?

The toplines are that among registered voters, 38 percent view the GOP favorably, versus 60 percent who view it unfavorably; among Dems those numbers are 51-46.

Here’s a rundown among subgroups:

– Among women, the favorable/unfavorable numbers for the GOP are 33-62. For the Democratic Party they are flipped around, at 54-40.

– Among nonwhites, those numbers for the GOP are 25-70. For the Democratic Party they are flipped around at 68-26.

– Among Latinos, those numbers for the GOP are 29-65. For the Democratic Party they are flipped around at 61-33.

– Among adults aged 18-29, those numbers for the GOP are 31-61. For the Democratic Party they are flipped around at 51-35.

– Among moderates, those numbers for the GOP are 32-66. For the Democratic Party they are flipped around at 52-45.

One shouldn’t make too much of these numbers.

 

Whoa! Wait a minute. Why shouldn’t we make much of these numbers? Ignore the subgroups. The top line number says voters prefer Democrats over Republicans. But the experts say Republicans are going to control Congress.

It’s like when Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000, and we ended up with eight years of incompetence selected by a Republican Supreme Court.

Demonstrations in D.C.

A very busy day in the nation’s capital yesterday (From the Washington Post):

Demonstrations drew thousands of people from around the country to the White House and the streets of downtown Washington on Saturday afternoon in peaceful protests.

In one, participants called for an end to the continued violence between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. At the same time, advocates converged in the District to urge President Obama to take administrative action on issues involving undocumented immigrants. Both groups ended up at the White House in the afternoon, seeking a stage to voice their concerns.

The larger group, supporting the Palestinians, arrived by bus from big cities and many others drove hundreds of miles to participate, organizers said

“Free, free Palestine, killing children is a crime,” the crowd chanted. Several people held Palestinian flags, cardboard boxes representing coffins or posters with graphic images of the wounded. …

… At the same time, hundreds gathered — first at the Mall, and then at Freedom Plaza and at the White House — to push for ­immigration-policy reform..

I don’t usually go around the White House on Saturday, but I was biking to Northwest Washington to see a friend headed off to China, and just saw mobs of people everywhere and a huge police presence around 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. For some reason, there were also a lot of people lined up to go on the White House grounds, and I didn’t think they had tours on the weekend.

And I will say that although this story gives the impression that both demonstrations drew equal attention. the reality is that the immigration gathering was nothing compared to the Gaza demonstration. I biked by Freedom Plaza and saw a very small group of people for the immigration rally. And to be honest, I’ve seen more people at the regular Sunday night tango sessions in Freedom Plaza than at the immigration rally.

For those of you who never pay attention to international news, you are aware, in the abstract, that people are getting killed as Israel and Gaza exchange rocket and missile fire. There are pretend cease-fires, but the minute one is announced, it’s broken. This is the death toll so far (click to enlarge):

Gaza-deathsThis is what the Gaza demonstration was about. The slaughter of children. No one would be demonstrating if it was just soldiers and militants killing each other.

Homophones: There awl gaze

I’m sorry, but at a certain point, the stupidity is just too much to absorb (from the Salt Lake City Tribune):

Homophones, as any English grammarian can tell you, are words that sound the same but have different meanings and often different spellings — such as be and bee, through and threw, which and witch, their and there.

This concept is taught early on to foreign students learning English because it can be confusing to someone whose native language does not have that feature.

But when the social-media specialist for a private Provo-based English language learning center wrote a blog explaining homophones, he was let go for creating the perception that the school promoted a gay agenda.

Tim Torkildson says after he wrote the blog on the website of his employer, Nomen Global Language Center, his boss and Nomen owner Clarke Woodger, called him into his office and told him he was fired.

As Torkildson tells it, Woodger said he could not trust him and that the blog about homophones was the last straw.

“Now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality,” Woodger complained, according to Torkildson, who posted the exchange on his Facebook page.

Ewe sea, dam homophones Kant bee taut ore scene. Weir sic of they’re bazaar caul fore aural sects. Their knot strait, sew there fowl. Eye four won saver thee passed.

Butt watt dew ewe wont too ad, Bugs Bunny?

The GOP rebranding strategy for 2016

It’s 2014, which means we’re gearing up for the 2016 presidential election. (Yeah, we have the midterm congressional elections coming up, but now is when the messaging for 2016 actually begins.

So which Republicans are among the likely presidential contenders, and what are they doing?

From the Washington Post:

Since giving up on cowboy boots (the arched heels agitated his back) and wearing hipster glasses, [Rick] Perry has a look more bookish than buckaroo — and more in keeping with his attempt at intellectual reinvention.

What was it that Rick Perry did that made him look dumb, anyway?

Yeah, glasses. That’ll fix everything. Because we all know that people who wear glasses are smart. Here’s what the site Eye Candy Optical says:

Scientific research has shown that we do perceive people who wear glasses as more intelligent when compared to those who do not wear glasses (As an aside, we also view people who wear glasses as more competent, and more industrious according to a recent article in Psychology News and Reviews).  Count me in!

Although perception is not a reality, you may give yourself a leg up just by putting on a proper pair of specs.  Let’s face it….it couldn’t hurt! In today’s competitive world anything that gives us a little extra boost (real or perceived) is worth a try.

Rick PerryNow there’s a smart looking man!

And since looking intelligent is part of the strategy for potential Republican presidential candidates, what other ways will they present themselves to the American voter?

Again from the Washington Post:

The last time Republicans began running for president, there was a race to be the most confrontational, the most unbending. Mitt Romney said he was “severely conservative” and got caught mocking the “47 percent.” Rick Perry called the Federal Reserve “treasonous.” Rick Santorum said he was “for income inequality.”

What a difference a disastrous election, two years and terrible polling make. If 2012 was a contest to be the toughest, the 2016 presidential Republican primary is likely to include a competition to appear the most compassionate.

The rebranding effort is taking center stage this week with pleas for more compassion from four potential GOP presidential candidates: Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Rand Paul (Ky.), House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush. The Republicans are working to redefine the GOP as kinder, more connected to the daily economic anxieties of poor Americans — and better able to win national elections.

Remember the last compassionate conservative?

But how do you look compassionate?

image11406142490That’s Paul Ryan on the right at a heroin clinic, looking compassionate. The GOP message had been, “You use heroin, you go to jail.” Now, let’s pull a gem from the past, quoting George Bush (the smarter): “Message: I care.”

We are not dealing in substance anymore. This is all about illusion. Nobody is going to read these guys speeches or cross reference their statements in newspaper articles. This is the first step in the Fox News election strategy.

We know what the message will be, and how they’re going to present it. So what can we do?