Take Five (Who'da Thunk It edition)

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+

ONE: Scumhog Millionaire et al.

Donald Trump wrapped up his latest and most Rococo exercise in crass, self-aggrandizing buffoonery on Monday with the altogether unsurprising announcement that he has decided not to vie for the GOP Presidential nomination after all.

Trump used the opportunity both to pat himself vigorously on the back and to indulge in some rank untruths, all of which was also altogether unsurprising:

“This decision does not come easily or without regret, especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country.”

What Trump should have said is “ranking down there with ditch water,” since his Icarus-like fall from political favor has been swift, despite most Republican voters being unable to distinguish Shineola from, let’s say, um, Santorum:

Trump’s support for the Republican nomination fell from 26 percent in April to just eight percent in early May in surveys done by Public Policy Polling.

The announcement came hot on the heels of Mike Huckabee’s admission a couple of days earlier that he doesn’t particularly feel like getting his ass kicked by Barack Obama next year either:

“All the factors say go, but my heart says no.”

Trump was quick to offer up this ludicrous tidbit of congratulation and commentary on the Huckabee announcement:

“Mike Huckabee is not going to be running for president. This might be considered by some people, not necessarily me, bad news because he is a terrific guy — and frankly I think he would be a terrific president. But a lot of people are very happy that he will not be running, especially other candidates. So, Mike, enjoy the show. Your ratings are terrific. You’re making a lot of money. You’re building a beautiful house in Florida. Good luck.”

Now, you might be thinking at this point that the race for the Republican nomination just got a little more rational. And you would be dead wrong:

Rep. Michele Bachmann said Tuesday she’s close to deciding whether to jump into the 2012 presidential race, and she suggested that Mike Huckabee’s and Donald Trump’s exits from the field make it more likely she’ll get in.

Huckabee’s and Trump’s decisions have “changed the grass roots and what they’re looking for,” the Minnesota congresswoman said on Fox News Channel on Tuesday. “Our phones have been ringing off the hook, our Facebook has been lit up, our donations are pouring in. People are saying ‘Michele jump in, we want you to run.’’

Bachmann has decided to utilize a two-tier approach to campaign fundraising:

… asking supporters to choose to donate small amounts if they want her to stay in the House, or larger amounts if they want her to pursue the presidency.

No word yet on how big a donation is required if one simply wants her to shut up and disappear, but I have my checkbook handy.

TWO: Stop the presses!

I hope you’re sitting down as you read this. If not, please take a second to do so. All set? Here you go:

Now there is evidence from an academic study of contemporary punditry that shows that the accuracy of most pundits is no better than 50/50. So if you can flip a coin you’re as smart as the average pundit.

The most interesting conclusion of the report is the confirmation that liberals are accurate more often than conservatives…

Five seniors in Public Policy 501 at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York collaborated on the study, entitled: “Are Talking Heads Blowing Hot Air? An Analysis of the Accuracy of Forecasts in the Political Media.”

You should treat yourself to the full study, since the executive summary linked in the quote above is insufficiently schadenfreudian. You’ll learn, among other things, that David “Dean of the Washington Press Corps” Broder’s prognostications were accurate less than 50% of the time, that Andrea Mitchell and Thomas Friedman – despite their self-evident self-regard – scored at 50%, and that notorious bow-tied loudmouth George Will fell short of being right even 40% of the time.

Paul Krugman, by contrast, was correct an impressive 88% of the time. Maureen Dowd came in at 81%, though based partly on what the study’s authors consider to be “seemingly obvious predictions.”

CliffsNotes version? If it’s left, it’s probably right. And if it’s right, chances are it’s wrong.

THREE: “Matanuska-Susitna Rhapsody”

Wasilla, Alaska found itself haplessly back in the headlines last week with the news that the principal of Wasilla High School had banned Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” from the graduation ceremony repertoire of the school’s “symphonic jazz” choir. Why, you ask? Well, Principal Dwight Probasco claims to have received a complaint from a parent that the song was unacceptable because its composer, the late, great Freddie Mercury, was gay.

The ensuing brouhaha involved an Anchorage gay and lesbian support group and the ACLU, leading to a resolution, sort of:

Senior Class Advisor Deb Haynes said Probasco has now agreed to allow the choir to sing an edited version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” that doesn’t include lyrics in one section about killing a man.

How this resolves the “concerns” of the parent is beyond me, but Wasilla remains a mavericky little burg. Oh, and by the way, anonymous “concerned” parent, Freddie Mercury was actually bisexual, but I suppose applying a sort of sexual version of the “one-drop rule” to your bigoted world-view helps keep your head from exploding.

FOUR: Updates from the Domestic War on Terror.

Back in January, I introduced you to Terry Allen Lester, who modified a vibrator by inserting:

… “gun powder, BB shot, and buck shot from shotgun shells” into the modified device, which had “black and red wires that connected to a trigger with a battery port,” according to a statement of probable cause filed yesterday in Waseca District Court.

Lester, whose rap sheet includes domestic assault and drunk driving busts, allegedly was planning on giving the vibrator as a Christmas gift to one of three former girlfriends, with whom he had relationships that “ended badly.”

Lester has now apparently reached a deal with prosecutors, a guilty plea on a felony creation and possession of an explosive or incendiary device charge, in exchange for the Waseca County Attorney’s Office dropping a charge of felony terroristic threats. Good to see this prosecution didn’t get blown out of all proportion.

Elsewhere on the domestic terror front last week, things were a little more tense. On one hand, it’s heartening to see apathy about civics hasn’t tainted every last kid out there, but here was a case of taking political activism just way too far.

A North Carolina seventh grader attempted to hijack his school bus at gunpoint, purportedly so that he could go to Washington and shoot government officials. He handed a second gun to a fellow student, who refused to get involved.

The would-be assassin was eventually persuaded by Evans Okoduwa, the driver, to surrender the weapon peacefully.

FIVE: And if any place deserves some comfort food these days, it’s Wisconsin…

If these domestic terrorists would only apply themselves, maybe they could turn their sad lives around. I just happen to have a role model handy, a true American original: Don Gorske of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

Gorske ate his 25,000th Big Mac on Tuesday in front of a cheering crowd at the McDonald’s on S. Military Road.

It was the 39th anniversary of his first-ever Big Mac, purchased from the very same McDonald’s on May 17th, 1972. So taken was he with the messy double-decker that he went on to scarf eight more of them that fateful day, and has averaged 641 of them a year ever since.

Gorske’s Wikipedia page features some jaw-dropping factoids: he’s 6’2″ and weighs 185 pounds; he appeared in Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me and was the subject of another doc entitled Don Gorske: Mac Daddy; his cholesterol level is below average; he met his wife and proposed to her at a McDonald’s in 1973; his name was enshrined in the Guinness Book of Records in 2006; he claims Big Macs make up 90% of his solid food intake.

Gorske’s 2008 book, 22,477 Big Macs, dishes up a wealth of additional information:

“By 1991, I had eaten a Big Mac in all 26 Major League Baseball Stadiums, and by 1994, in all 48 contiguous United States. By 2001 I had eaten a Big Mac at all 22 NASCAR tracks, and by 2003 at all 32 National Football League venues. With all the new stadiums being built, in 2006 I ate a Big Mac at my 49th NFL venue, my 49th Major League Baseball park and at the 46th Major League Baseball park that the Milwaukee Brewers have played in.”

McDonald’s franchise owner Dave Rause was understandably enthusiastic about Gorske’s milestone:

“As a business, we’re exceptionally lucky to have a customer like Don,” Rause said. “He’s just an exceptional guy and a sweet, sweet man. He’s also a Big Mac enthusiast. When you have a customer who’s enthusiastic about your product, it’s a great thing.

“You hear a lot of bad news. Then you have a guy like Don who does something interesting from a human standpoint.”

Over and above Gorske’s contribution to Rause’s and the Golden Arches’ bottom lines, his tenaciousness is already inspiring kids in Fond du Lac to consider alternatives to, say, hijacking a school bus or making incendiary modifications to a sex toy:

[Winnebago Lutheran Academy ] student Jared Schroeder purchased his first Big Mac Tuesday while his friend, Aaron Meyer, had Gorske sign the inside of his Big Mac carton.

“His name is really hard to read, but I can see ‘Donald,’” Meyer said. “… I couldn’t tell you how many I’ve eaten. I think [Gorske’s record] is great. Good for him. Starting to eat Big Macs is a good way to get famous. I should have started it.”

Take heart, Aaron. There are, after all, other ways to get famous. Why, you might consider becoming a real estate tycoon with a bad comb-over and a penchant for spoof Presidential runs, or a right-wing pundit who’s never right, or a craven Alaska high school principal.

As for Don Gorske, well, I expect he’ll just keep doing what he does best, being an American icon who stuffs his face with another American icon, over and over and over and over and over again. Bon appetit, sir.