Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sunday Reading

  • Frank Rich, before going on a break, compares the Democrats to a “Million Little Pieces,” and says they shouldn’t try to out-obfuscate the Republicans; they can’t beat the masters.

    Democrats who go berserk at their every political defeat still don’t understand this. They fault the public for not listening to their facts and arguments, as though facts and arguments would make a difference, even if the Democrats were coherent. It’s the power of the story that always counts first, and the selling of it that comes second. Accuracy is optional. The Frey-like genius of the right is its ability to dissemble with a straight face while simultaneously mustering the slick media machinery and expertise to push the goods. It not only has the White House propaganda operation at its disposal, but also an intricate network of P.R. outfits and fake-news outlets that are far more effective than their often hapless liberal counterparts.

  • In Canada, the Liberals brace for impact.

    The Conservative Party is still carrying a 10-point lead over the Liberals in the final stretch of the election campaign, with the NDP slowly picking up additional support among women voters in Ontario and in British Columbia, a new poll suggests.

    The poll done by The Strategic Counsel on behalf of CTV and The Globe and Mail said the Conservatives have the support of 37-per cent of respondents across the country, while the Liberals are at 27-per cent and the NDP is at 18-per cent.

    “It’s fairly stable,” said pollster Allan Gregg of the most recent results.

    The world won’t come crashing down on the Liberals if they lose after twelve years of governing by their fingernails. The best the Conservatives can hope for is a majority of seats, but chances are that they won’t get them and Stephen Harper, the Conservative leader, will have to form a minority government. I’m guessing that there will be another election within eighteen months. Still, the idea of a Conservative leader who says that he’s relying on the liberals in the courts and Senate to keep him in check doesn’t exactly sound like someone you can trust. (Trivia question — remember the last Conservative Canadian PM?)

  • What makes you laugh? Mary Jo Murphy looks for yuks in any language.

    Albert Brooks went “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World” in his movie that opened Friday, but if he wanted a challenge there are funny bones far harder to measure.

    In Japan, he might have heard rollicking laughter at an all-night game of rock-paper-scissors, or a giggling widow telling her employer that the vase she carried held the ashes of her dead husband. In West Africa, he might have studied the tiny Ik tribe, whose ravaged members were observed laughing heartily as they watched a baby wander into a fire or an old woman stumble off a cliff.

    These are the yuks that require translation, and even then understanding is elusive – no one has yet explained satisfactorily why the devastated Ik laughed as they marched merrily toward extinction.

    Certainly the capacity for laughter is universal. Homo risibilis; man is gifted with laughter. And most cultures, the experts say, seem to laugh at the same fundamental things, quite possibly for the same reasons, whether their jokes feature road-crossing chickens or light-bulb-changing Poles. Within that essential sameness, however, is a world of small differences, and the devilment is surely in those.

  • Any guesses on who will win the division championships today?