Officials ban ballot use of phrase "NOT the ‘whiteman’s bitch’ "

Wisconsin election officials are preventing Ieshuh Griffin from using the above phrase below her name on the ballot. Ms. Griffin is running for the state Assembly and, you’ll be surprised to hear this, she’s running as independent. Quoth the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal: “Unlike candidates from the established Democratic and Republican parties, independents are allowed a five-word statement of purpose on the ballot to explain to voters what their candidacy is about.

The state’s Government Accountability Board apparently has at least three members who either have a sense of humor or an admirable dedication to the First Amendment or both as the board voted 3-2 in favor of the phrase. Unfortunately, it takes four votes to approve and so the voting this fall will be far less colorful.

Ms. Griffin defended her slogan by saying: “"I’m not making a derogatory statement toward an ethnic group. I’m stating what I’m not. It’s my constitutional right to freedom of speech." Had the phrase been allowed it certainly would have posed a challenge for any truth-in-advertising requirements. How, exactly, would one prove whether or not you are the whiteman’s bitch?

It’s probably no surprise to you to learn that Ms. Griffin is African-American, as retiring Rep. Annette "Polly" Williams, whose seat Ms. Griffin is running for. Rep. Williams said that some of her constituents were offended by the phrase. Not so board member Thomas Barland, who voted to allow Griffin to make the statement. "She says a lot in five words. It wasn’t pornographic. It wasn’t obscene, and I didn’t interpret it as racial." Like the other five members of the board, Mr. Barland is a retired judge who is not African-American. Which would seem to make him the perfect person to judge whether someone is or isn’t a bitch for his particular ethnic group.

A bovine fecal matter artist tells the truth

From my latest post at BlownMortgage:

There is a fascinating mea culpa from David Lereah, former chief economist with the National Association of Realtors, at CNNMoney.

Q. Were you wrong to be so bullish?

A. I worked for an association promoting housing, and it was my job to represent their interests. If you look at my actual forecasts, the numbers were right in line with most forecasts. The difference was that I put a positive spin on it. It was easy to do during boom times, harder when times weren’t good. I never thought the whole national real estate market would burst.

Q. The NAR’s latest forecast calls for a slight increase in home prices next year. Thoughts?

A. My views are quite different now. I’m pretty bearish and have been for the past year and a half. Home prices will continue to drop. I think we’ll see a very modest recovery in sales activity in 2009. But we’ve still got excess inventories, a bad economy and a credit crunch that will push prices down further, another 5% to 10% more. It’ll take a long time to get back to the peak prices we saw in many markets.

Q. Any regrets?

A. I would not have done anything different. But I was a public spokesman writing about housing having a good future. I was wrong. I have to take responsibility for that.

Or, as Capt. Willard put it in Apocalypse Now: “ The shit piled up so fast in Vietnam you needed wings to stay above it.”

It is clear that telling the truth and leaving out the spin would have served the NAR better. They could have established themselves as a trustworthy source of information. Instead they lived up to expectation as just another generator of bovine fecal matter.

In the end trust is the ONLY thing a brand or product has going for it. Lose that and nothing else matters.

Biden reaches past historical accuracy for a greater truthiness

Over at Reason, someone unearthed this gem from Joe Biden’s sit down with Katie Couric: “When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn’t just talk about the princes of greed. He said, ‘look, here’s what happened.'”

As has been pointed out at the blog:

  • Roosevelt wasn’t president when the market crashed.
  • Television was just an experiment. If FDR had gotten on TV and said this he would have been talking to an audience in the mid- to high-single digits.

On the plus side for the Obama campaign: This is an original idiocy and does not seem to have been plagiarized from anyone else.

Forecast: Mud with more mud followed by a storm of masculine bovine feces

I have no idea where he got it, but CollateralDamage Sr. sent along the following. No matter where you stand politically this seems to me to just be good comedy.

Elsewhere:

Hard to believe that truthiness — the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true –was the 2005 Word of the Year.  Can you have a repeat winner?

OK and for the record … I was right when I said Palin was a brilliant pick for McCain. I just didn’t know how right I was. And for the record, I also predicted that Obama would win by a lot. Hmmmm …

Bitter dispute over sugar ad may bounce Czech government

A Czech government ad touting its turn to hold the presidency of the EU may and featuring a sugar cube may actually result in the downfall of the government.

The ad, built around the claim that the Czech’s invented the sugar cube (I always thought it Bjork), features the slogan, “We sweeten it for Europe.” However it “can also be translated in Czech as promising to give Europe a bitter lesson, making trouble for it or causing disgust. … [However] this has soured relations within the ruling coalition, with traditionally pro-European Christian Democrats attacking it.”

Apparently this kerfuffle is because the ruling party is split between pro & anti EU types.

Further confusing the issue is whether or not the Czech’s should claim ownership of the sugar cube. The ad claims it was a Czech invention dating from 1843. However reporters at the daily Lidove Noviny pointed out that the although it was created in what today is the Czech republic but was then an outcropping of the Austro-Hungarian empire by a Swiss named Jacob Christoph Rad. Speaking as a professional journalist, this is what’s known as a fun story.

Silly Czechs. How stupid to take an argument over sugar so seriously. They should follow our lead and argue about lipstick and whether it is placed on pigs or pitbulls.

For those of you not up on leading-edge political stupidity: The McCain campaign (slogan: “Truthiness is everything!”) is attacking O’Biden for saying “that Sen. John McCain’s claim that he will shake up Washington after agreeing with President Bush for so long is like ‘putting lipstick on a pig.‘”

It is a disingenuous attack, at best, given that McCain himself has used repeatedly, even to describe a health plan put forth by Hillary last year. Trotting out former acting Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift as the attacker is a nice sound-bite move that looks really dumb if you examine the facts.  True Ms. Swift is A) female, B) a mom and C) was sort of governor.

However her time in office was not a pretty one. She was named acting governor when her predecessor decamped to become ambassador to Canada. Despite having the governor’s office she couldn’t even carry her own party in her one attempt to win the job for herself and was defeated by Mitt Romney, a name you may have encountered. She was a notably inept governor:

By the end of her term, Swift was extremely unpopular with voters in the state (at one point having the dubious honor of a single-digit approval rating). This unpopularity was due in part to a perceived lack of effectiveness and in part to apparent abuses of her gubernatorial privileges, including: her use of a Massachusetts State Police helicopter to commute cross-state, from Boston to her home in North Adams; and, the use of State House aides to babysit her children.

Given all that is surfacing about Ms. Palin’s troubles in Alaska, Swift is not the best shade of lipstick for this issue.

Apparently the lesson Sen. McCain learned from his 2000 primary loss to Pres. Bush was that voters really don’t care that much about facts. I wish I could argue that it was a bad conclusion to come to.

BTW, Talking Points Memo has the following: A former McCain spokeswoman — who defended the senator when he made a joke about a woman raped by a gorilla — is also author of a book about being a political flack. The book’s title? Lipstick on a Pig.

During McCain’s 1986 Senate race, McCain was hit with allegations from women’s groups in Arizona that he’d told this knee-slapper (as quoted at the time by the Tucson Citizen)…

“Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, ‘Where is that marvelous ape?'”

McCain was defended by Torie Clarke who said, “John does not recollect telling that joke … And he has a very good record on women’s issues.” The reporter who wrote the original story disagreed then and now with Ms. Clark.

I want to see a pitbull put some lipstick on that pig.

The word of the year is a phrase. Go figure.

The Oxford American English Dictionary has chosen carbon neutral as its word of the year. Yeah, can’t even tell you how many times I heard that one used. Hmmm, what’s 0 divided by 0? Given that and the fact that neither truthiness nor pretexting was a nominee I’d say this was a zeitgeist neutral list.

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