Romney 2012, vs. Obama 2008

February 26, 2012

It’s not really a fair comparison, is it?  In 2008, Sen. Barack Obama was in a hotly contested race for the Democratic nomination to be president.  His team worked to get the crowds out, at a rally before Super Tuesday.

In 2012, it’s former Gov. Mitt Romney who is in a hotly-contested race for the nomination — but of the GOP, not the Democrats.  So it’s not really a fair comparison, Democrats against Republicans, just before Super Tuesday, is it?

Still, we see these two photos making the rounds.  These two photos were taken four years and 20 days apart:

Romney vs. Obama, gate in Detroit (from

Political rallies for presidential candidates, in Detroit, Michigan, 2012, and Hartford, Connecticut, 2008

Oh, that’s not straight up, is it. One was in Detroit, the other in Hartford.  Okay, let’s compare Detroit rallies.  Here’s Mitt Romney in Detroit:

And here is Obama in Detroit in 2008, in Joe Louis Arena:

If you’re a red-blooded American, you’ll find Obama’s speech in Detroit frustrating, in retrospect.  Where Obama said America can’t wait to solve problems, Republicans since then have said “Yes, We Can Wait,” and they’ve frustrated action to fix so many problems.   We’ve lost so much time.

Religion and the presidential campaign . . . what is a Christian?

February 26, 2012


Of course, C. S. Lewis was a Brit, and Britain is close to Europe — heck he’s almost a Frenchman, and Russian communists used to like to go to Paris.  On one of those hooks, Obama bashers will hang their refusal to agree with Martin Bashir.

Quote of the moment, Daniel Boorstin channels Kin Hubbard: Pretension to knowledge more dangerous than ignorance

February 26, 2012

Daniel Boorstin, Librarian of Congress, Information Bulletin January 2003

Daniel Boorstin, Librarian of Congress, Information Bulletin January 2003

In an earlier post I asked about the origins of this quote, and a reader capable of searching well gave us a good enough citation:   Daniel Boorstin, the late historian and former Librarian of Congress, wrote:

I have observed that the world has suffered far less from ignorance than from pretensions to knowledge. It is not skeptics or explorers but fanatics and ideologues who menace decency and progress. No agnostic ever burned anyone at the stake or tortured a pagan, a heretic, or an unbeliever.

Boorstin wrote that in an essay in  a book published in 1990, “The Amateur Spirit,” in the update of 1935’s Living Philosophies (edited by Clifton Fadiman).  You can see a more complete version of the quote here.

Isn’t that eerily similar to Kin Hubbard’s observation?  From Boorstin, the former Librarian of Congress, it carries the heft of more academic language than Hubbard’s version, but it clearly echoes the idea, doesn’t it?

Below the fold, the statement in greater context of the duty of historians.

Tip of the old scrub brush to j a higginbotham.

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Robert Redford, for NRDC, on the Keystone Pipeline fight

February 24, 2012

My old sometime nemesis and rescuer Robert Redford keeps chugging along — getting sharper, politically, as he ages, I think.

Here’s his succinct summary of the Keystone Pipeline issue so far — with a plea for funds for the NRDC tacked on.  Any factual errors?


Secret life of books, captured on video

February 23, 2012

Yeah, we sorta knew that:

Explanation at YouTube:

After organizing our bookshelf almost a year ago (, my wife and I (Sean Ohlenkamp) decided to take it to the next level. We spent many sleepless nights moving, stacking, and animating books at Type bookstore in Toronto (883 Queen Street West, (416) 366-8973).

Everything you see here can be purchased at Type Books.

Grayson Matthews ( generously composed the beautiful, custom music. You can download it here:

Bathtub myth still haunts the ghost of Millard Fillmore

February 23, 2012

Presidents Day this year brought out columns and commentary in newspapers and other media across the country, with trivia about presidents.

Millard Fillmore in March, 1849, daguerreotype by Matthew Brady - Wikipedia image

Millard Fillmore in a daguerreotype by Matthew Brady in March, 1849, in a sitting at the U.S. Capitol. In 1849 the presidential inauguration took place in March — this may be a photo taken on inauguration day, but almost certainly when Fillmore was Vice President. Wikipedia image

What did we learn?  We learned that the old hoax, that Millard Fillmore put the first bathtub in the White House, still stands strong.  The ghost of H. L. Mencken, the guy who started the hoax, high-tails it to the nearest hotel bar for a beer; the ghost of Santayana smiles and shakes its head.  Fillmore’s ghost looks around for a good book to read.

Did one of the wires services run a story on the trivia that reporters picked up?

In the Diamond Bar (California) Patch, in a column of presidents trivia, editor Catherine Garcia reported:

  • Millard Fillmore installed the first bathtub and kitchen stove in the White House.

In that version of history, presidents were both dirty and hungry from 1801 to 1850, I suppose.

In the Quincy (Illinois) Herald-Whig, Steve Eighinger seconded the error:

º For some reason, Millard Fillmore, the 13th president, has been the butt of a lot of jokes over the years and I don’t know why. The guy seems pretty upstanding. When Fillmore moved into the White House, it didn’t have a Bible, so he corrected that oversight. He and his wife, Abigail, installed the first library at the White House, plus the first bathtub and kitchen stove. Fillmore could not read Latin and refused an honorary degree from Oxford University, saying a person shouldn’t accept a degree he could not read. (So how did the first 12 presidents take a bath?)

Give Mr. Eighinger credit.  In that parenthetical question, he begins to see the problems with the story, the hoax Mencken wrote.  Too bad he didn’t chase it down.

Yes, the Fillmores installed the first library in the White House — though it was more out of their love of books than a lack of a Bible.  And they updated the kitchen, but certainly someone had some sort of stove to cook on prior to 1850.

Punditty (a nome de plume, I hope) got the facts right at AllVoices:

13. Millard Fillmore wasn’t really the first president to have a bathtub installed in the White House. The actual answer is more complicated. See the link below under “Additional Sources.” He was, however, a member of three political parties during his lifetime: Anti-Masonic (1828-1832); Whig (1832-1856, including his presidency of 1850-53); and American (1856-1860).

I didn’t find the link to “Additional Sources.”  Perhaps the author referred to the notes under the Wikipedia article on Fillmore, which was linked from the site.  You should remember that the “American Party” to which Fillmore belonged, and on whose ticket he ran for the presidency in 1856, was also known as the “Know-Nothing Party.”

How many other newspapers carried the hoax in the past week, that my news hounds did not find?

Even in 1952, when President Harry Truman told the hoax, there was general knowledge that the story was false.  Why does it still circulate, 95 years after Mencken invented it?

When did the first plumbed bathtub go into the White House, and who was president at the time?

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Once more: Where do I sign the petition? Ronald Reagan Memorial National Debt

February 22, 2012

Newt Gingrich is still whining about national debt, as if there were no one out of work, as if the economy were humming along fine, and as if we wouldn’t have a better chance at balancing the budget and reducing the debt with a stimulated economy?

Maybe it’s time we start asking the real serious questions, again:

Where do I sign the petition? Ronald Reagan Memorial National Debt.

Or, we could name the George W. Bush Wing of the Ronald Reagan Memorial National Debt.

Could we do that properly, while decreasing the debt ceiling?

(When you read that article, please note carefully what is the most expensive government building ever built.)

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