Saturday, February 20, 2010

Dean and Rove dog and pony show

This monday, the CU distinguished speakers board hosted a political discussion with Howard the scream Dean and Karl Bush's brain Rove. Each speaker received $28K for their participation. The two of them have been doing this show across the country. The format consisted of each speaker making a 20 minute opening remark, followed by a moderated debate, and concluding with audience questions.

The evening started with airport style security.

Following my wanding and proctological exam, I entered the lobby and took in the surroundings. Security was tight. I've been to a number of events at this center, but never before saw security at this level. I'd expect to see this kind of screening for a standing president, not for a pair of policy wonks.

This odd couple event began with Rove winning the coin toss and making the first statement. Rove started off by mentioning that he and Dean had a bet as to who would receive the bigger audience applause. Rove responded to Dean's warmer greeting by saying what do you except from Boulder. That said, Rove supporter's were in significant attendance. From the sound of the applause I'd estimate somewhere between 1/2 and 1/3 of the attendees. Although this was billed as a University event geared toward student enrichment, close to half of the attendees were clearly a bit old to be CU students.

Rove's opening remarks began with discussing the economy, the stimulus package, foreign policy, and health care. He presented the standard Republican talking points: That the stimulus package was a failure because unemployment passed the magic number of 10% and that tax cuts, and only tax cuts could stimulate the economy. He complemented Obama for continuing the majority of the Bush era policies regarding the war on terror, with the exception of the decision to treat the underpants bomber as a criminal rather than livestock.

Predictability, Rove came out against the Senate Health Care bill. He made some convincing arguments about how the senate bill would overly tax the middle class and cost those folks more for what they are getting now. Unfortunately Rove had little in the way of alternatives to offer for improving health care. Dean, being against the same bill for completely different reasons, offered no defense of it.

What struck me the most about Rove, is just articulate he is. The guy is incredibly sharp, and an extremely gifted public speaker. I'm used to seeing him as an insufferable prick pontificating for the Bush Administration or Fox News, so it never occurred to me just how compelling he could be. As a public speaker, Dean was largely outclassed. Dean made a sufficient effort to defend this administration's policies, but was constantly on the defensive. Rove was consistently on the attack. But through it all, their sparing was good natured. They both made it look like they were enjoying themselves. In fact, not until the very last audience question did anyone raise their voice to shout down the other.

Rove had a hissy fit over a question asking if the Bush administration should be charged with war crimes for fabricating evidence leading up to the war with Iraq. Dean stated quite clearly that he did not believe that President Bush had knowingly broken any laws, but perhaps some one under him, such as the vice president, had. Rove came unglued at what he perceived as Dean's slander, and completely stepped around any defense of the Bush administration actions. This came across completely as a diversionary tactic. Rove struck me as too bright to lose it this way on accident.

I tried to record the opening remarks, but was told quite dramatically to cease what I was doing by one of the security goons. Turns out they told the news media not to tape beyond the first few minutes, but neglected to tell the rest of us. It is a bit cowardly on their part to stifle any accountability for their sound-bites, but that was the pre-conditions for their appearing.

At the end of the evening, as the audience started to stand to give the two men a standing ovation, the security staff panicked and ran onto the stage to shield the two men. It was a surreal ending to a good event.

Of all the local news coverage, FOX News had the most to say about the event, but unfortunately felt it necessary to describe it as if it were a cage match.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Mardi Gras

Here's an elaborate costume we photographed at one of the small French quarter parades in the mid-1990's. Contrary to popular misconception, the main parades progress well outside of the famous French Quarter.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Faux Noise

It seems that either you see Fox as exactly this way, or you don't see it at all.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Snow Sculptures

The town of Breckenridge Colorado held an international snow sculpture competition last weekend. This is Team Canada-Ontario's entry called Memories from My Youth.

More of the sculptures are posted at the Longs Peak Photo Blog