Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Reading

James Fallows suggests that it’s time for President Obama to deliver a tough speech.

Years ago I saw this headline in The Onion: “AMISH GIVE UP. ‘This is Bullshit,’ Elders Say.”

It may be time for President Obama to give a “This is bullshit” speech about the debt-ceiling negotiations. Merrill Goozner has done an item worth noticing. It’s a proposed Presidential Address next week about the folly of Congress failing to authorize an increase in the debt ceiling, to pay for programs and tax cuts that Congress has already voted to enact. The speech begins:

“My fellow Americans. It is my sad duty to report that the House of Representatives, having voted over many years to establish this vast enterprise we call the federal government, which touches each one of our lives, has under its new leadership decided not to pay for the programs it voted to create. I now must carry out my constitutional duties, which are twofold. I must honor the commitment that the United States government has made to millions of lenders here at home and abroad. And, I must carry out the programs that Congress has voted to create.

“Unfortunately, Congress’ failure to raise the debt ceiling means there is insufficient money to do both. Therefore, I must do the best I can with the resources at hand, while not violating the constitution…”

And it builds to this conclusion about the steps the President will take to ensure that the nation honors its debts, as it has through war, depression, and strife through the preceding two centuries:

“I am by law required to honor the obligations of the U.S. government, which were appropriated by Congress and signed into law by me and previous presidents. Even as I am distraught beyond words at the pain the irresponsible actions of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives have brought on the American people, I must do my duty….

Or more plainly, “This is bullshit.” That is how it looks to all the rest of the world, and to the great majority of Americans. When it came to intervening in Libya, President Obama decided to do what he considered proper first, and worry about the Constitutional niceties second. In this instance the case for acting in the nation’s interest first, and letting people complain later — if they want, even start impeachment hearings — is much stronger. We are talking about a wholly unnecessary shock to the worldwide economic system and to America’s short- and long-term prospects, brought about by a wholly artificial debt-ceiling law. I suggest that the White House speechwriting office take a look at Goozner’s draft. Maybe the President too.

More below the fold.

Good Dog — Rose Russell of the Toledo Blade reports that therapy dogs make a difference.

Whoever said dogs are man’s best friend got it only partly correct.

Dogs are not only man’s, and woman’s, best buddies but they also seem to be miracle workers in their ability to soothe our anxieties and calm us when we are upset. They have special insight, as they often seem to know when something is wrong.

And they are social experts because they pull the reserved outside of themselves, a role that is becoming increasingly common for therapy dogs.

That’s why Jill and Mike Perretti acquired a therapy dog for their son Matthew, 14, a ninth grader at Anthony Wayne High School this fall, who has Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism.

“I wanted to give him something that would make him responsible for something outside of himself,” said Ms. Perretti, Matthew’s mother.

Matthew, who has a 3-year-old male golden doodle named Tango, communicates with animals better than people. And Tango, of course, accepts the teenager unconditionally.

“That’s why we went with a therapy dog,” she said.

Matthew got his first therapy dog when he was about 7. Onyx, a black Labrador, has since died, but having her was a rewarding experience for the Perrettis, and Matthew asked for another one.

“We didn’t realize at the time the impact Onyx had on being able to calm him down,” Ms. Perretti said. “The dog was a source of him thinking outside himself. We didn’t need to remind him to feed or brush the dog.”

Tango doesn’t go to school with Matthew. He does not have public access rights. But Matthew talks about Tango.

“We found that he was approaching and interacting with people without having to be prompted,” Ms. Perretti said.

Hacking the Rupester — Carl Hiaasen listens in on Rupert Murdoch’s voice mail.

BEEP: “Rupert, this is Wendi. Guess what? Piers Morgan called and he wants me to do a whole hour about me punching that pie-thrower at Parliament! I know you’d rather I give the interview to Fox but, darling, Piers and I go way back. Please be a love and say yes. I’ll be in my private fitting room at Harrod’s if you need to reach me.”

BEEP: “Dad, this is James. Sorry I wasn’t much help the other day when that nitwit attacked you with the cream pie. As you know, ever since I was a small boy I’ve had a deathly fear of pastry. Otherwise I would have hurled myself between you and that madman. Honest.

BEEP: Mr. Murdoch, this is Hugh Grant. Yes, Hugh Grant the actor. Remember how your dirtbag reporters kept hacking my phones a few years ago while I was dating that super-hot socialite whose name now escapes me? Well, you shriveled old goat, guess what. Now I’ve got your voicemail code and I’m eavesdropping on all your personal messages. Ha!”

BEEP: “Mr. Murdoch, this is Dr. Entwistle, the urologist. We got your tests back today and I’d like to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience.”

BEEP: “Ha, Rupert, I heard that! Hugh Grant here again and, speaking on behalf of all the celebrities whose phones got hacked by your hacks, let me just say that I hope your prostate gland is the size of a croquet ball!”

BEEP: “Rupert, this is Prime Minister David Cameron. I want to personally apologize for the inexcusable security lapse that allowed that impudent pie-thrower to smack you in the face the other day. (But bravo for Wendi, eh?) Listen, Rupe old boy, you understand that despite our close friendship and all the self-serving advice that you’ve given me since I took office, I must continue condemning your newspapers publicly every chance I get, in order to save my own political hide. Please know that I still consider you a dear chum . . . whoa — this line is secure, right?”

BEEP: “Mr. Murdoch, this is Jude Law. Yes, Jude Law the actor. You might recall that I’m suing one of your papers for stealing my private phone messages. I just wanted to tell you how distressed I was to hear that your prostate apparently is now the size of a cantaloupe. Oh, and Hugh Grant says cheers.”

Doonesbury — The cloak of invisibility.