Language Quirks

Had a great visit from two old mission friends – one a favorite companion I haven’t seen for a while, and the other a beloved former zone leader who I haven’t seen for over twenty years. The occasion was this zone leader’s arrival from across the pond – he’s an Englishman who’s now relocated to Calgary and trekked down with his family to visit Temple Square and its environs. We had a barbecue over at the Cornell pad and relived old times. We remembered the triumphs and the tragedies and the knife fights – talk to my zone leader about that one – and got reacquainted. It was as if we’d seen each other just yesterday. I love it when that happens.

My children very much enjoyed playing with the other children, too, especially when the zone leader’s kids trotted out their English vocabulary. They played in the back garden instead of the backyard; they played football instead of soccer, and they had pudding instead of dessert. Those are some of the more benign variants in the dialects of the English and the Americans, and we remembered some times when the conversational mishaps were less benign.

Indeed, Zone Leader told of a time recently when he was in an American library helping his child with his homework, and he went up to the librarian on duty and asked if she had a rubber he could borrow. He only wanted a small one, he said, which disturbed the librarian even further. It took him a moment to realize that the proper Americanized term was “eraser,” and that Yank libraries weren’t really keen on tiny condom distribution.

We used to play around with this kind of nonsense all the time over in Scotland – we yanks would call him a bloody bugger with his head up his fanny, and he’d call us fags that were all stupid sons of bitches. See, in Scotland, “bloody,” “bugger,” and “fanny” aren’t really words used in polite conversation, whereas a “fag” is just a cigarette, and “bitch” meant female dog and nothing else. Indeed, we American missionaries would go out of our way to compliment people with feminine canine companionship on the quality of their bitches, just because we could.

As Americans in the Old Country, we learned quickly that we could avoid embarrassment by remembering a few simple rules: “pants” were underpants, so say “trousers” instead; “suspenders” were pantyhose, so talk of using “braces” to hold up your pants – I mean trousers – and feel free to eat “faggots” anytime you like, so long as you’re fond of meatballs, which is what the British definition means.

The other story I recounted, which may be apocryphal, is that our very American mission president, upon his arrival in Scotland, held a banquet to host the highest-ranking church leaders in the country so that everyone could get to know each other a bit better. In the course of the evening, he told of how he’d fallen in love with his lovely bride because she was a women with a lot of spunk.

Note to those visiting Britain: “spunk” is not really an appropriate term when describing the qualities of a prospective wife. It is, however, very crude slang for a liquid that a prospective wife is biologically incapable of producing, and thus mention of same made for an awkward silence at the dinner table.

I hope I haven’t made you buggers uncomfortable. If there’s any part of this post I should delete, I’d be happy to get out my rubber and get to work.

McCain’s Speech

I watched pieces of it – as much as I could stomach. Most of it was preempted by Back to School Night and a meeting with my kids’ piano teacher. Then there was a discussion with my son about his challenges in school. Apparently, John McCain wants to be a part of that – he’s going to “fight for me” on the education front.

Here’s the thing – I don’t want John McCain to fight for me.

No, that’s not true. I want him to make sure that America’s military is killing people and breaking things in order to keep the country secure. Beyond that, I want him to leave me the heck alone. I don’t want him messing with education or “corruption” – i.e. free speech – or global warming or any other pet project that captures his fancy on any given day. I don’t want his compromise judges to “fight for the little guy” by rewriting the Constitution to reflect the latest political fads. Yes, I respect a man who underwent five years of torture on behalf of this country. I’ll give him all the accolades he can possibly imagine. But he’s demonstrated time and again that he shouldn’t be given real responsibility to set policy for the nation.

And here’s the thing, John – I don’t want to end the partisan rancor in Washington. It should grow louder and louder as long as the other guys insist on being wrong. I don’t want everyone to get along. I want my side to win. In order for everyone to get along, someone has to back down. That’s what Beavis is going to do in the name of “fighting” for America. I don’t want to meet global warming kooks halfway and spend only two trillion on junk science instaed of four trillion. I don’t want free speech limited just a little bit less during campaign seasons. I don’t want judges who are acceptable to enough lefties that they’ll only be slightly less tyrannical.

I want a strong military, good highways, and judges who follow instructions. I want to be taxed at the bare minimum of what it takes to make that happen. Then I want Washington to butt out of my life and let me fight the good fight without their meddling.

That’s why I’m going to vote for a dead guy.

Palin’s Polling

The proof of Palin’s performance is in the poll numbers, and Rassmussen still has Obama up by 5 in his daily tracking, while Gallup has him up by 7. That’s not surprising, as daily tracking polls reflect a rolling average over a period of days, and today’s numbers wouldn’t reflect reaction to Palin’s speech yet.

But there’s a fascinating poll recently released by CBS that has Obama and McCain tied at 42% – and it was taken Monday through Wednesday, before the speech. This poll is remarkable for a number of reasons, the main one being that Obama was eight points ahead in the same poll last weekend.

But it gets even better.

Read the fine print at the bottom of the article, which shows how the poll was conducted.

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 835 adults nationwide, including 734 registered voters, interviewed by telephone September 1-3, 2008.

835 adults. Over 10% of these guys aren’t even registered to vote! Historically, the best barometer of actual voting behavior is that of likely voters, not just registered ones. (Both the Gallup and Rassmussen polls also reflect the opinions of registered, not likely, voters.)

When the likely voter standard isn’t applied, the results tend to skew heavily in the Democrat’s favor. Reduce that threshold down to just adults, and the numbers veer left even further.

If Obama is tied with McCain among adults, he’s behind. Probably seriously behind.

We live in interesting times.

Inside Scoop

Half of my office is in Minneapolis at the moment, and I spoke to an insider last night after Palin’s speech. They wanted to know if it was as big a hit on TV as it was on the floor, and I assured them it was. Apparently, they had also spoken to Karl Rove, the Master of Evil, earlier in the day. Rove had said that Palin was very accomplished with a teleprompter because of her previous life as a sportscaster, and that would make a huge difference. Any Mormon who has endured an anonymous Seventy giving a General Conference speech can tell you how rare good teleprompter readers are.

Rove also said McCain really wanted Lieberman, but the guy who talked him out of it was Lieberman himself. I don’t know if that means that Lieberman refused the position outright or if he just convinced McCain otherwise, but it speaks well for Lieberman and says plenty about McCain. If you need to be convinced, watch Palin’s speech side-by-side with Lieberman’s tortured litany of McCain’s lefty tendencies, and realize that McCain, if he had followed his heart, would have picked the latter. Yes, I dig Palin, yet McCain remains loathsome to me.

RobotontheToilet makes the comment in yesterday’s post that Palin’s speech is bad for Mitt. He’s right. Mitt needs to position himself as Reagan ’76, but his speech, while sturdy and admirable, didn’t share the same we-nominated-the-wrong-dude gravitas that was present when Reagan addressed the ’76 convention after his defeat. On the flip side, nobody remembers that, because Palin’s tour de force overshadowed everything else.

The future of the GOP, for better or for worse, lies with Sarah Palin, not Mitt Romney.

From the National Enquirer re: Palin:

Quoted via The Corner at National Review Online:

Another incredible allegation emerging from the family war is that Palin, a mother of five, had an affair with a former business associate of her fisherman husband, Todd.

“Todd discovered the affair and quickly dissolved his friendship and his business associations with the guy,” charges an enemy. “Many people in Alaska are talking about the rumor and say Todd swept it under the rug.”

No attribution. No solid evidence. Probably crap. Although the N.E. had the goods on John Edwards long before the mainstream press did. They also had photos, which don’t seem to be available to prove this sludge this time around.

My question: The mainstream press completely ignored the Edwards story for a very long time, and they justified their decision on the grounds that the Enquirer was not a reputable source. Will they give Palin the same benefit of the doubt?

Doubtful.

Lieberman’s Post-Partisan Nonsense

First off, I can’t find a single reputable news source reporting on Palin’s reported “Pledge of Allegiance” gaffe. Methinks this bit of nonsense originated with the same great thinkers who decided Palin faked her last pregnancy to take the hit for her daughter. Until I get confirmation from something other than a lefty Olbermannic blog, I’m betting this one’s a hoax.

Let’s get to Lieberman.

I’ve always sort of liked Joe Lieberman, more so in recent years, although he showed in 2000 that he can morph into as partisan a weenie as anyone. Yet it takes some guts to stand up in front of a bunch of Republicans and slam the nominee of your own party. The reasons he cites for doing it, however, make my skin crawl.

I quote:

I have personally seen John, over and over again, bring people together from both parties to tackle our toughest problems we face –to reform our campaign finance, lobbying and ethics laws, to create the 9/11 Commission and pass its critical national security reforms, and to end the partisan paralysis over judicial confirmations.

By “bring people together,” he means “sell out the Republicans.” “Campaign finance reform” guts the First Amendment. The 9/11 Commission was a Clintonian whitewash, and the Gang of 14 sold a huge chunk of Bush’s judicial nominees down the river.

It gets worse.

If John McCain was just another go-along partisan politician, he never would have taken on corrupt Republican lobbyists, or big corporations that were cheating the American people, or powerful colleagues in Congress who were wasting taxpayer money.

But he did!

If John McCain was just another go-along partisan politician, he never would have led the fight to fix our broken immigration system or to do something about global warming.

But he did!

Yes, he did – to most Republicans’ everlasting regret.

Time after time after time, McCain has badgered and belittled those of his own party rather than take the fight to those who should be his ideological opponents. He’s much more comfortable ripping the faces off GOP folks than he is offending his Liebermanic pals across the aisle.

Lieberman’s speech was unintentionally gruesome for a number of reasons. He even got muted applause for his praise of Clinton’s record, the great Dem “who worked with Republicans to get important things done like welfare reform, free trade agreements, and a balanced budget.”

Yeah, right. With the exception of NAFTA, which Clinton admirably championed of his own free will and choice, everything else was rammed down his throat by Newt Gingrich, a man Lieberman went out of his way to demonize when he was the vice presidential nominee. Clinton vetoed welfare reform twice! Until ’94, he never dreamed of a balanced budget. He never “worked with Republicans” the way McCain does – he stuck to his guns until political expediency forced his hand. Contrast that with McCain, who gleefully throws right wingers under the bus at the first opportunity.

Lieberman said some wretched things about partisanship, too. Witness thus:

Our founding fathers foresaw the danger of this kind of senseless partisanship. George Washington himself — in his Farewell Address to our country — warned that the “spirit of party” is “the worst enemy” of our democracy and “enfeebles” our government’s ability to do its job. George Washington was absolutely right. The sad truth is — today we are living through his worst nightmare, in the capital city that bears his name.

His worst nightmare? Really? What was the Civil War, then – nightmare #7? All this hokey post-partisan blather ignores the fact that we’re no more divided now than we’ve been in the past. Those who want us to put partisanship aside and “get something done” conveniently overlook that they never want to get done what the other party wants done. Yet this was the drivel that Lieberman unleashed in full force.

Here’s the deal, Joe. I would prefer partisan gridlock to most of what McCain’s gotten done in the name of bipartisanship. Rather than the disembowelment of free speech rights, the creation of trillions of dollars of cap and trade taxes to fight a nonexistent problem, and the advancement of judicial tyranny, I’d rather Congress sat on its hands and did absolutely nothing. (Maybe they could crochet. Or weave baskets.)

“Working together” doesn’t do anyone any good when what you’re working to accomplish is loathsome. After all, the Germans, the Japanese, and the Italians worked together quite well during World War II, and it would have been awfully nice if they hadn’t.

Palin or no Palin, I’m back to Jacques Cousteau ’08.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Taking a breather from politics, I took my three boys to see a movie yesterday. They chose Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and I did my fatherly duty and went along. I would have preferred to rip out both of my eyes with an ice cream scoop, but I sat in the theatre and watched the thing, until I was able to zone out and take a brief nap, waking up and finding my toes all toasty warm. Isn’t that great, when you fall asleep in the middle of the day, and you wake up oddly refreshed? Usually, yes. But then you wake up and realize you haven’t missed nearly enough of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and/or you’re not dead, which would have been a really good time to check out, if you know what I mean.

Look, I’m a geek. Of course I love Star Wars. I had the action figures, the comic books, and I was saving paper route money to buy a radio-controlled R2-D2. Foodleking and I ditched school to stand in line and see an early showing of Return of the Jedi. Back in ’97, I went to the rereleases and whooped and hollered and cheered. I was bugged that Greedo no longer shot first, but I still had a good time. I couldn’t wait for the prequels to come out.

I remember it well. It was May of 1999. I had moved to St. George, but my family hadn’t followed me down there yet. I went on opening night of The Phantom Menace with some Tuacahn folks, and I sat next to a big bald guy named Jared. I so wanted the movie to be good. I even pretended it was good, until my Jar Jar threshold was overrun. And then the Force became a midichlorian infection, and I realized that the movie wasn’t just disappointing – it sucked beyond all measure of sucking. It diminished the original trilogy solely by existing. At the final shot, the big Jared guy shouted “YESSSS!”like some hyperbald fanboy buffoon. He asked me why I wasn’t equally excited.

“Because it wasn’t very good,” I said.

He protested, but I wouldn’t budge on my assessment. He finally insisted I just wasn’t a true Star Wars fan.

But I am a Star Wars fan. I love the original trilogy. Jedi is a little disappointing, yes, but I refused to admit that for a decade or so after its release. I loathed Phantom Menace and, after hoping for a comeback with Attack of the Clones, found myself increasingly disappointed. I enjoyed Revenge of the Sith more than the other two, but that’s like saying it’s better to eat stale lettuce than a bowlful of vomit.

I’ve since concluded that there hasn’t been a real Star Wars film since 1983.

All this Anakin/Jar Jar/Clone Warsy offal is its own beast. Some people even like them. But they’re not of a piece with Star Wars. That’s why I loved the new Indiana Jones movie, despite its many flaws. No, it wasn’t a masterpiece, but it was an Indiana Jones movie. It fit in the pantheon, however diminished it is from the original.

The Star Wars prequels are like Galactica 1980 or Highlander 2: The Quickening. They not only suck; they damage what’s gone before. The only way to fully appreciate the original is to ignore the rotgut that was spawned in its name.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars is the embodiment of the aforementioned rotgut. It’s a prequel sequel that serves as a prequel to Episode III. Nothing of consequence happens, although there are lots of loud scenes and crappy computer animation. You get to see Jabba’s farting baby and gay uncle. And both Christopher Lee and Samuel L. Jackson embarrass themselves by providing the voices for their characters, something the mighty Hayden Christensen wasn’t even willing to do. Of course, Anthony Daniels does do the voice work for C3Po, but he sold his soul to the Lucasian devil a long time ago.

The best thing I can say about it is that it’s not pornography. That’s something, I guess.