Posted on December 31, 2004


Cranial Tumbleweeds

Dick Morris, Ernie & Bert, MLS, etc.


Daniel Clark


* It's too bad for President Bush's staffers that he won re-election. Now they don't get to partake in all of those traditional wacky pranks that we're told take place in every presidential transition.

* In the past four years, the president has not sexually harassed White House employees, committed perjury, sold pardons, solicited illegal foreign campaign donations, or spirited away the FBI raw data files of his political opponents. Gee, those guys must be right about Bush being stupid. He doesn't even realize that "everybody does it."

* Many of the states that were won by John Kerry were much closer than President Bush's victory in Ohio, and the "irregularities" that Democrats and minor party members now complain about are nothing irregular. What little there was of a controversy about the Ohio vote was the direct result of the networks' refusal to call the state for the president on election night, which is precisely why they didn't.

* Why is the Libertarian Party involved in wasting Ohio taxpayers' money on pointless recounts, especially when their candidate probably got about nine votes?

* The networks all blew the call in Florida in 2000 because they were too eager to chalk the state up for Al Gore when the actual vote count showed that it was far too close to call. There was no logic in using that experience to avoid calling Florida for President Bush this year, when he'd led by 5 points wire to wire. If Kerry had won Florida as handily, we'd have known it by 9 o'clock.

* Dick Morris may be a brilliant political strategist, and he's done a great job refuting Michael Moore's lies about the War on Terror, but he's also a social liberal, so his advice to Senate Republicans should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. In a recent column, Morris warns the GOP against changing the cloture rules to prevent the filibustering of judicial nominees, by saying that such a move will undermine President Bush by making it appear that he is trying to pack the Supreme Court like FDR did. He writes, "The nation will not tolerate seeing an electoral victory impelled by terrorism hijacked to put another William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas on the court. ... If the Republicans change the rule to eliminate the 60-vote cloture requirement and then use the resulting power to jam right-wingers down the nation's throat, defying popular views on choice, they will incur the enmity of all Americans."

The flaws in Morris' argument are both abundant and glaring. First of all, anyone who thinks that a significant percentage of Americans are going to be worked into a lather over congressional cloture procedures has spent entirely too much time inside the beltway. Furthermore, guaranteeing that the full Senate will vote on a nominee consistent with the Constitution's "advice and consent" clause is nothing at all like what FDR tried to do, which was to expand the Supreme Court, and then fill the new vacancies with his own nominees.

The whole purpose of a filibuster is to prevent a floor vote that the minority knows it will lose. The proposed new rule would only require an up or down vote. The nominees would still need the approval of a majority of the Senate. That doesn't sound like anything is being jammed down the nation's throat. Nor are conservative judges outside the mainstream as Morris suggests. Not a single senator voted to deny Justice Scalia's nomination, and Justice Thomas would have been approved easily if not for an orchestrated smear campaign. For the most part, conservative judges are so uncontroversial that the Democrats have to fabricate personal accusations against them, rather than deal with the reality of their records.

Finally: "defying popular views on choice, they will incur the enmity of all Americans." Really? All Americans? Please!

Earth to Dick: If "choice" were as popular as you presume it to be, you wouldn't be calling it that. You should be willing to call it what it is, since everybody so heartily approves.

* Opponents of Justice Thomas argue that he is not qualified to be elevated to Chief Justice because he does not abide by the legal principle of stare decisis. "Stare decisis" means "to stand by that which is decided." This means that judges are expected to adhere to precedent, whether it had been correctly decided or not. In reality, this principle is only considered sacrosanct when it behooves liberals. When the Supreme Court overturned the 1986 Bowers v. Hardwick case last year in deciding Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down a state law against sodomy, nobody wailed that the Court had violated stare decisis. This reverence for past rulings is only applied to those cases of judicial activism which would be threatened if subjected to a serious constitutional analysis. Few people want to seriously argue that Roe v. Wade was a constitutionally sound decision, so its defenders simply take it off the table by declaring it "settled law," and therefore immune from scrutiny. It's not a legitimate challenge to Thomas' qualifications to complain that he's a threat to legalized abortion, so his critics phrase their objections in Latin, to make it sound like they have an academically defensible point.

* Before the first presidential debate, there was a media buzz about the fact that John Kerry's face had been turned a curious shade of orange. Can't Kerry get anything right? Bert is the yellow one.

* Much of what is seen on Sesame Street is the typical liberal tripe you'd expect from a PBS program, but Ernie and Bert have actually been effective at teaching the truth about socialism. A typical sketch features Ernie preparing a snack for himself and Bert, when he is overcome by a need to ensure "fairness." (Gee, Bert's scrumptious oatmeal cookie is smaller than mine, but he's got more cool, delicious grape juice!) Ernie proceeds to munch and gulp away in an effort to balance things out, until both his and Bert's portions are equal, though minuscule. Bert arrives to find that he's been left about an inch of juice, and a cookie the size of a nickel. Just as with most government programs designed to promote "fairness," equality of material wealth is achieved through reduction, with the arbiter of "fairness" consuming the difference.

* John Kerry may be many things, but he's not stupid. Almost immediately after losing the election, Kerry announced that he may run for the presidency again in 2008. Because of that possibility, many in the liberal media will likely be deterred from unloading on him with everything they'd withheld during the campaign.

* If we had sent Jimmy Carter to monitor the election in the Ukraine, Kremlin-supported candidate Viktor Yanukovych would now be president.

* So Osama bin Laden is encouraging Iraqis to boycott the election. Somebody please explain why it would be detrimental to have terrorist sympathizers abstain from voting.

* If President Bush's plan to defeat terrorism by spreading freedom through the Islamic world is the wrong approach, then why are the terrorists so scared of it?

* Not that Iraq is part of the War on Terror, or anything.

* Bill Clinton's "You don't want to go there" tirade at Peter Jennings was far more demented than Howard Dean's hysterical speech after the Iowa Caucuses. All Dean did was holler the names of all the states he thought he was going to win, and punctuate it with a bizarre squeal. It was worth joking about for a few days, but it really didn't warrant all the attention it got. Clinton, by contrast, lashed out in a paranoid rant against a network press that, for eight years, did little but attack his enemies and protect him from responsibility for his own actions. In addition, he was making idle, childish threats. What if, after he'd warned Jennings not to "go there," Jennings replied, "Or else what?" What could Clinton have possibly done, other than become even louder and more ridiculous?

* The latest "reality show" is called "The Real Gilligan's Island." I thought the original Gilligan's Island was real. I mean, obviously, nobody was writing it, so by calculatus eliminatus, it must be a reality show, right?

* As referenced in a recent column on this site, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have discovered that the nucleus of a primate's egg cell differs from those of its somatic cells, in that it contains more material that is important to the development of an embryo. Will wonders never cease? This is a bit reminiscent of that major discovery a few years ago, that there's actually stuff in mothers' milk that's nutritious for babies. The scientific community and the news media were dumbfounded by this. I suppose if you start out believing that the whole universe was created by a giant accident, findings like these appear to be tremendously coincidental.

* Lately, a lot of beer commercials have been advertising that their respective beers have "more taste." Try to think of the one beer you've ever tried that had "more taste" than all the others. Horrid, wasn't it?

* Even the most ardent proponents of affirmative action insist that they are not in favor of quotas, but their reaction to the dearth of black head football coaches proves they are lying. It's almost impossible to watch a college football game anymore without the announcers and studio analysts sermonizing that there are not enough black coaches in major college football. If there's such thing as enough, and there's such thing as not enough, then somewhere in between lies a quota.

* Every college football announcer seems compelled to rail against the alleged injustice of the low number of black coaches. When they attribute this to racism, they are really leveling an unfounded accusation against athletic directors throughout Division I-A college football. Anyone who has any real knowledge that a hiring decision was motivated by racism has an obligation to publicize the evidence, so that the offending parties can receive the public scorn they deserve, not to mention any applicable NCAA sanctions. There are more than enough sports journalists on the case to find some such wrongdoings if they are taking place. But then, it's a whole lot easier to go in front of a camera and categorically slander lots of innocent people on a weekly basis.

* Buried deep in some stories alleging racist hiring practices in college football are acknowledgments that many of the most promising black coaches are only in their thirties. Many of these will become leading head coaching candidates in the near future. The diversity-mongers in the sports media know this trend is coming, and they're getting out in front of it so that they can take credit when it happens.

* Have you noticed that Tyrone Willingham has been hired by the University of Washington, that same evil racist school that Kellen Winslow Jr. was not allowed to attend?

* You can tell somebody has class when he would be rewarded for doing the wrong thing, but doesn't do it anyway. If Coach Willingham had accused Notre Dame of racism for firing him, he would have become the sports media's most beloved mascot since Martha Burk. Instead, he quietly departed South Bend after a dignified press conference, in which he blamed himself for not fulfilling his own expectations. In reality, he had not performed poorly at all, but was prematurely dismissed by a declining program desperately searching for a quick fix. He was not without cause for bitterness, which he could have easily acted upon by branding the university with a scarlet "R." How many people, when fired for questionable reasons, would resist the temptation to make trouble like that for their former employers, especially when they would be applauded for it?

* If professional soccer is ever going to succeed in the United States, the people running the league will have to stop being such a bunch of Eurosnobs and start trying to appeal to American fans. Next season, Major League Soccer will introduce two expansion teams: "Real Salt Lake" (pronounced "ray-ALL," like the traditional European power Real Madrid), and "Club Deportivo Chivas USA."

The latter of these teams is based in Los Angeles, but named after its owner's Mexican league team, Club Deportivo Guadalajara, which is nicknamed Chivas. "Chivas" means "goats," which means that the full name roughly translates into the USA Sports Club Goats. If they'd just named the team the L.A. Goats, it wouldn't exactly have opponents quaking in fear, but it might prove a commercial hit among American fans. Instead, the team is not only cryptically named, but it is also represented by a slightly modified version of the logo for the Mexican team, complete with the Guadalajara city crest.

"Real" means "Royal," but a team in Utah couldn't have a name that English-speaking people could understand, like Royals, Kings or Monarchs. That's because, according to team owner David Checketts, "We want it to make Salt Lake even more of an international city." What's wrong with it being an American city, with an American team that Americans can identify with? Real Salt Lake's self-imposed obscurity might win it praise for being avant-garde, but it's also bound to make the team about as popular as the Independent Film Channel.

One of the league's charter franchises is D.C. United. When soccer and rugby clubs use the "United" moniker, that usually means that they have resulted from the mergers of other clubs. Creating a brand new team called "United" doesn't make any sense. Besides, other Uniteds still have team nicknames. D.C. United's little-known and extremely lame nickname is "Black-and-Red." The fact that you almost need a microscope to find any red in their uniforms probably has something to do with its failure to catch on. The D.C. United logo is an eagle, but they couldn't do something crazy like calling the team the Eagles. That might put them in danger of selling a few tee-shirts.

The Dallas franchise, until now awfully nicknamed the Burn, will heretofore be known as "FC Dallas," which sounds like the name of the world's least successful rapper. "FC" stands for "Football Club" -- for those who call soccer "football," which we don't. Calling a soccer team a football club in Dallas is enough to make Hank Hill go postal with a weed-whacker.

* When selecting a team name, every owner should put himself in the place of one of his players, and try to complete the following sentence: "I'm a -------." If the team name does not allow him to complete that sentence in one or two words, then it should be changed to something that does. If one MLS owner would wise up and name his team something like the Tigers, and have a visible tiger logo on its uniforms, and hire some goof to roam the stands in a tiger suit, then his team would dominate the merchandising war against teams called things like the Albuquerque Essence, and VB Delmarva Conglomerate. A self-inflicted identity crisis is no kind of a foundation for a successful business venture.

* If somebody deliberately set out to design a public relations disaster, it would be Major League Soccer. People don't even know whether to call it "The MLS" or just plain "MLS." Unlike Major League Baseball, which is comprised of two leagues, (the) MLS is all one league, so why isn't it called the MSL instead? Better yet, how about something like the U.S. Soccer League, or the American Soccer Association? After all, it was conceived as a developmental league for the U.S. national team, so all the foreign pretensions are really contrary to the league's purpose.

* Last season, Major League Soccer did away with overtime, so that even more games end in ties. They must have conducted focus groups that determined that fans found overtime soccer just too doggone exciting to withstand.



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