Quick Roundup 504

Monday, February 08, 2010

Who dat?

The team that nobody picked to win the Super Bowl played with guts and determination to win championship glory under the leadership of a quarterback familiar with adversity and similar unwarranted skepticism about his ability to win.

Oh, and don't forget the coaching.

Sean Payton, widely regarded as one of the game's most fearless play-callers, made several bold moves that sparked the Saints to a surprising comeback in the second half.

Although most of Payton's brilliance is tied to his offensive acumen, it was actually his daring special teams gamble that initially changed the game's momentum. The Saints' confident leader instructed Thomas Morstead to attempt a surprise onside kick to open the third quarter, and the risky maneuver paid huge dividends as Jonathan Casillas came up with the unlikely recovery.

With the Saints finally set up in prime field position, the offensive wizard immediately made adjustments that got his offense in gear. [links dropped]
Read the whole thing to fully understand how Payton managed to defeat the Colts. Before the game, a friend and I concluded that the Saints had a chance -- if they could build up a huge lead and then hang on for dear life after, "Peyton Manning figures out their defense." Good thing Sean Payton saw another way.

My initial reactions upon seeing the onside kick could be summed up as follows: (1) "What the hell just happened?" (2) "Why on earth are they doing an onside kick?" (3) "Nice! Peyton Manning's going to be busy keeping the bench warm for a few more minutes." That was a risky call, but its success immediately wiped away the sting of a Saints' drive just before halftime, in which the team came up just short of a touchdown after going for it on fourth down.

To have the Saints as one's hometown team has often been an exercise in waiting for the other shoe to drop, of wondering when the "Ain'ts" will finally show their true colors and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Not anymore.

When "change" means ...

... to put in another quarter and try again.

The host at the Super Bowl party I attended yesterday had the television on mute during the pre-game, so all I could do was wonder why Barack Obama was suddenly interrupting America's day off. Apparently, he's going to offer the same raw deal on medicine to members of both parties, as if he hasn't already done so, and as if nobody understood what he meant the first time.
"I want to come back [after the Presidents Day congressional recess] and have a large meeting -- Republicans and Democrats -- to go through, systematically, all the best ideas that are out there and move it forward," Obama said in an interview with Katie Couric during CBS's Super Bowl pre-game show Sunday.
In other words, Barack Obama is promising to open up a "dialogue" and warning that his ears will be well-sealed before he shows up. Watch him complain, if this gets where it should, that the Republicans can't seem to get past the "standard conservative talking points" on "healthcare."

He'll make that "argument" too transparent to take seriously, too. Keep up the good work, Barry.

The Worst Super Bowl Ad

Is this Audi ad:

(a) guilty of downplaying the danger of the environmentalist agenda, (b) an attempt at bullying, or (c) both?

It's like someone there read Ayn Rand complaining about pragmatic businessmen destroying capitalism by sanctioning its enemies and said, "I'll show her what 'destroying capitalism' means!"

Note to Self

Read about this innovation:
Suddenly, the mammoth shale formations in Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, North Dakota, and elsewhere have the potential to produce abundant amounts of gas for decades to come.
As C. August indicates, "Prior to this innovation, the natural gas in the shale could not technically be termed a resource."

-- CAV


C. August said...

You are right about that Audi commercial. They may be guilty of downplaying the danger of the enviro-agenda, but I found the ad chilling and scary. Why?

Because in their attempt to poke fun, I fear they've been quite prescient about what may actually happen in the next 10 years. I bet there were millions of viewers who thought to themselves, "wow, they really SHOULD arrest people for that!"

Audi thought they were being cute, and playing to the educated, more liberal audience of potential Audi drivers, allowing them to feel morally superior while having a bit of fun with it. Instead, they showed a picture of an environmentalist police state with a non-recycling perp walk, people hiding in shadows and cowering in fear from an omnipresent government; I was left thinking they simply didn't have enough time to include a virtual auto da fe for environmental "crimes."

I have long imagined that such things might become "crimes" if the environmental lobby continues on its growth trend. It was downright frightening to see it acted out in dramatic fashion with an implied leftist sneer and self-satisfied chuckle behind it.

Sam said...


I agree completely with your take on the Audi commercial. If you're interested, I wrote my own quick thoughts on it here:


That's pretty good, but I actually like what I said on Diana Hsieh's blog better:


Rational Education said...

The creative team of the Audi ad are concrete bound duds with little imagination. If and by the time poltical conditions come to pass by legislation as what they portray, there will be no buyers of Audi cars (or any cars for that matter) left to sell to (except the elite, Gore et al jet setting group)-I guess that will be something the Audi manufacturer will not have to worry about anymore -selling cars! Audi actually paid this advertising firm to assist in its suicide and declared its decision to the entire country -that's what happened here.

Mike said...

Yeesh -- I cringed at that "Green Police" commercial. Never buying an Audi product again, that's for sure. As they are a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group, not really a surprise. Though, if memory serves, isn't their dealer network in the USA owned by GM?

I loved the onside kick call, and mostly I love that Payton clearly decided on it before the game even began. Otherwise, when they won the toss at the beginning, there's no way they choose to receive... the numbers are just way too tilted in favor of deferring the option. They planned in advance that if they won the toss they were going to receive and then onside kick to start Q3, and they made it work. That's the Super Bowl as it should be: Go big or go home.

Dismuke said...

"It's like someone there read Ayn Rand complaining about pragmatic businessmen destroying capitalism by sanctioning its enemies and said, "I'll show her what 'destroying capitalism' means!"

If that was the case, then I think that ad will backfire on them in a big way. Are they downplaying the seriousness of the environmentalist agenda? Probably.

But they have also accomplished and, apparently gotten away with, an ultimate political correctness no-no: they have identified before a very large mainstream mass media audience the totalitarian nature of environmentalism and dramatized the reductio ad absurdum of exactly what it will lead to in practice if that agenda is to actually be enforced. They are able to get away with it because they do it in a tongue in cheek manner. And tongue in cheek is actually effective on something like this. If a pro-capitalist advocacy group put up a serious ad discussing the totalitarian nature of environmentalism, the very radicalness of the ad in the context of a mainstream media event would overwhelm and obscure its message. The mere fact that the message would be so radical in that context would also make a certain number of potentially reasonable and intellectually honest people be reflexively suspicious.

Reductio ad absurdum can be very powerful and effective because it lets the viewer make the connection and draw the conclusion on this own rather than having it asserted to him.

The reason the ad is so dangerous to the environmentalist agenda is because what it dramatizes as a joke is, in fact, EXACTLY the logical consequences of what the environmentalists propose and where it leads to. People are used to seeing capitalism trashed in prime time mass media - it is so commonplace most people just tune it out as normal random background noise. What people are NOT used to seeing in mass media is environmentalism being exposed for what it is, whether in a serious manner or in a joking manner. Long after people have forgotten that the ad was about trying to get people to buy a green car, the memory of the dramatizations will remain. Suddenly pointing out that the environmentalist agenda IS totalitarian is not quite as radical as it was prior to yesterday. And next time people here some self-righteous green prattle on about what lifestyle changes people ought to be forced to make - well, some people will see a parallel with what they saw in that ad.

If I were Algore, I would NOT like that ad.

Also, I am unable to see is how on earth the ad is going to be successful in selling cars. I guarantee you that the average productive man on the street American who sees that ad will NOT be inclined to say after seeing it: "gee - you know, I want my next car to be green." The emotional reaction of most decent Americans will be "gee, maybe I ought to get a gas guzzling SUV."

And viewers who are environmentalists/Leftists who look down their nose at those who drink the sort of coffee served in truck stops and gas stations will probably be rather uneasy while watching that ad. They will have a certain sense of uneasiness because the ad DOES illustrate EXACTLY what such people are trying to bring about and the dirty truth of their agenda which they spend a great deal of energy trying to evade and obscure. They might chuckle at the ad - but it will be a very uneasy and nervous chuckle which, I think, will probably obscure the intended message that they ought to buy the car.

Regardless as to what actual motives and intentions are behind the ad, the very fact that the environmentalist agenda is now a subject of parody and ridicule during one of the largest and lowest common denominator mass media events of the year is actually quite huge. The ad might have indeed been intended as a slap in capitalism's face. But, if so, the execution was so sloppy that what, in fact, happened is the arm continued on and came back full circle only to slap environmentalism's face even harder.

Joseph Kellard said...


Payton's call for an on-side kick in that spot will go down as one the greatest calls in Super Bowl history—precisely because it was so risky. If it failed and he gave Manning great field position while the Colts were already leading the game 10-6, Payton would be called an idiot.

But big games require that you not play conservative (which the Colts did during this game – think their last possession of the 1st half), but to take risks where you otherwise wouldn’t. That's why Payton decided to run the ball on 4 & goal before the 1st half expired. It is calls like the onside kick that the stuff that legends are made of.

As to the Audi Super Bowl ad, I wondered what effect they were going for. I first thought maybe they were poking fun at the green movement? But that went out when the guy
driving a "clean"-fueled car cleared the eco-road bloc.

The commercial actually indicates where we're headed if we don't stop this environmental insanity. "Going green" has become a fad, but we have to recognize that it’s not some fashion statement, or something “hip” and “progressive,” but part of a larger environmental movement that is, at root, anti-Industrial Man (e.g. the climate change crusade).

The scenarios depicted in this commercial can become a reality. Today's absurdities are tomorrow's realities, right? In this case, actually, I think some of these police actions depicted in this commercial are already happening. In my neck of the woods, you can get fined for not separating some of your garbage.

Gus Van Horn said...

Hi all,

Worked 11 hours today and haven't time for the usual individual replies, but thank you for your incisive comments.

Amusingly, while I was at work, I recalled some controversial ad on abortion (I think "pro-life") and was expecting someone to ask why I didn't think that ad (assuming I recall correctly) wasn't worse. (That would be an interesting one to bat around...)

In any case, I'll make it easy for folks to see Sam's thoughts in full by linking to them here. That said, Dismuke's take is the most distinctive and is well worth reading.

During lulls in the experiment, I recalled that the same guy who caught Brett Favre's pass in the NFC Championship also caught Manning's pass. He credited the coach with preparing him for knowing to anticipate that. Go to today's RealClear Sports and there are several articles that show that this upset was anything but a fluke. Also, Justice, the sportswriter I linked to as an example of writing off the Saints, noted today in the Houston Chronicle that Payton liked being the underdog. Made it easier to prepare.

The more I hear about Sean Payton, the more I like him!


Sam said...


Three things.

First, I certainly see your point about the commercial's "shock value", but I think there's an error in your reasoning. It may be true that otherwise reasonable and intellectually honest people, if they saw a serious ad which explained the fundamentally totalitarian nature of environmentalism (or even if they saw that ad, but with it being for a "non-green" car), might be reflexively suspicious. However, if that is true about human nature, then don't you think that the environmentalists, if they are to succeed, will have to take account of it as well? What I mean by that is that if there ever is a totalitarian "green state", there won't be "green police" running around making sure no one uses plastic bags or incandesent light bulbs. Those things simply won't be available. They'll be phased out relatively quietly and in pieces. People will just come to accept higher prices, lower quality, and/or less convenience as a natural part of life (ironically, just as Audi is attempting to capitalize upon what they think people have come, or very quickly will come, to accept in regards to luxury automobiles).

Also, you may be correct that as memories fade, what that ad will be remembered for is it's lampooning of environmentalism - and that that itself will make the fight against it easier - but it seems like it's equally possible that people will remember it as corporate propaganda. Think about what happened to Apple's commercial in 1984 - where the renegade athlete throws a hammer at "Big Brother" and wakes the people up from a mindless slumber. That is considered the most famous commercial of all time. It was intended to say that personal computers would empower the individual with so much information and means of expression that the ignorance and conformity necessary for a dictatorship to take hold would never materialize, but over the years what it's been remembered as is Apple (the underdog) challenging IBM (the big bad corporation)...

(continued in next comment)

Sam said...

(continued from previous comment)

So even though the public's common sense dominated initially (and the fact that the commercial struck that common sense so deeply is why it became so notable), it's more fundamental belief in altruism and egalitarianism corroded the message over time. What might start out as a "light bulb moment" about the nature of environmentalism could very easily become "an example of selfish rich people thinking that the rules don't apply to them." The Apple ad, unfortunately, reinforced the popular conflation of economic leverage with political power, and this Audi ad, unfortunately, could very easily reinforce the notion that corporations will say anything to continue being allowed to pollute.

Finally, I think the reason why that ad will be successful in selling Audis is because the profile of the average productive man - who's productive enough to be able to afford an Audi - is increasingly an actually unproductive man. The types of people who make money in this economy are, more and more, the pragmatic types. The kinds who are willing to violate their professed beliefs, take advantage of some kind of niche government market distortion, and even suppress the unintelligable emotional vibrations that tell them there's something wrong with what they're doing, just to get ahead. These are the people who eat this commercial up. It gives them an external confirmation of the precarious "pride" they have in their willingness to turn a blind eye to longer-term ills for the sake of shorter-term gains. They will find the commercial's real message (you can have luxury, as well as insulation from all of the political hassels poor, "weak" people deal with, if you buy our car) appealing for that reason alone. Obviously, not everyone can be a politically-connected, Al Gore jet setter, but with pragmatism as the dominant philosophy in the culture, even when the average man is forced to realize that he won't be part of the elite after all, and that buying that green Audi wasn't enough to appease the enviromentalists, instead of taking stock in whatever degree of decency he had (the thing that, ironically, made him lose to the slightly less decent, slightly more ruthless next guy) and facing the issue head on, he'll just tell him self it wasn't meant to be, stop working as hard, and get used to driving that Prius (since Audi had to file for bankruptcy).

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

Gus Van Horn said...


One thing different now than when Apple made that ad is that the cultural influence of Objectivism is on the rise.

We are in a good position to make the right message heard about this, and possibly to make it stick.


Dismuke said...

Sam -

My thought is that, in terms of the ad's popular cultural impact, the actual intentions of those who created it don't really matter too much. Nor does it really matter much what sort of conventional wisdom "spin" ends up being settled upon as to the commercial's "meaning" when it ends up being discussed in future Marketing 101 classes. I don't even think it matters too much what most people in the audience thought about it.

The people who saw that commercial come from all walks of life and were tuned in for the sole purpose of having an enjoyable evening of fun and relaxation - in many cases with friends or family and perhaps with an alcoholic beverage or few. It was also but one of many commercials that they saw that evening. Any thought given to the commercial - to the degree that people even gave it much thought - was likely to be momentary and superficial. People like you and me might be inclined to subject a commercial to serious contemplation and philosophical analysis. But, in this context, such people are an insignificantly tiny fraction of the audience. Even most intellectuals are not likely to be in the mood for such analysis if they are sports fans and are watching the superbowl. Most people who watched it will very quickly forget that they even saw it. My point is this: any cultural impact that such a commercial is likely to have will, by necessity, be VERY indirect and VERY implicit.

Furthermore, keep in mind that ANYBODY watching that commercial who is age 55 or younger has, since childhood, been constantly BOMBARDED with Green propaganda. People are indoctrinated with it starting with childrens' books and kindergarten and it continues in all parts of our culture from television programs to commercials to our nightly news to our workplaces to signs along the highway and on the plastic garbage bins that municipalities force people to use. In today's culture, the influence of and constant berating by the Green agenda is all-pervasive.

Leonard Peikoff once said something to the effect that, if we could ever get to the point where we could have a ratio of 1 college professor out of 200 as an Objectivist, that would provide a foundation for Objectivism to become the dominant philosophy of our culture. At the root of Dr. Pekoff's statement is a recognition of a very important point: a small minority of people who express radical ideas - ESPECIALLY if their ideas are on the side of reality - are able to exert an influence that is highly disproportionate to their numbers.

The typical Leftist professor in today's world, even a highly talented one, is very limited in terms of how much influence he can personally exert on the wider culture because pretty much everybody has already heard the essence of everything he has to say over and over again countless times ad nauseum. His main cultural contribution to The Cause when he expresses his opinions is in the realm of providing constant reinforcement of what people have been exposed to since childhood and, perhaps, to intimidate those inclined to entertain dissenting views into being reluctant to do so. Meanwhile, a merely mediocre Objectivist professor can have a HUGE impact because he is exposing students to ideas which they likely HAVE NOT heard before or given much consideration to.

(Continued in following post)

Dismuke said...

Part 2

Finally, the other thing to keep in mind is this: in the long run, good ideas and facts are more important and more powerful than the individuals who happen to articulate them. This can be true even if the person who is articulating them is extremely flawed and has an overall message that is profoundly contradictory - especially if the flaws and contradictions consist of the same old stuff that people have heard before a million times anyway.

Now, with all that in mind, let's go back to the superbowl ad.

The reason I say the ad helps undermine the Green agenda is because it accomplishes two things:

1) It helps knock the Green agenda off the sacred cultural pedestal that it has built for itself. The commercial accomplishes this and very effectively through the use of humor and reductio ad absurdum parody.

For any sort of orthodoxy to remain in place, it has to maintain an unchallengeable aura of moral authority - and the more at odds with the facts of reality the orthodoxy is, the more this is the case. For the orthodoxy to survive, those who might be inclined to dissent or be open to alternatives must be fully aware at all times that they will pay a VERY high price in terms of both prestige and credibility. Question the Green agenda - well, according to Algore, that puts you in the same realm as neo Nazi types who deny the Holocaust. If you challenge the Greens, that makes you worse than a backwoods bumpkin who drinks the sort of coffee served in truck stops and gas stations. It means that you are the one who cleans out the coffeepot at the end of the day.

Furthermore, as others have observed, Puritanism, in today's culture, is no longer a Right wing phenomenon - it primarily exists on the Left. To take the Green agenda seriously and attempt to implement it in one's own life requires that one be willing to subject one's self to the dictates of a VERY strict form of Puritanism where pretty much any earthly pleasure outside of recreational drugs and indiscriminate sex is regarded as suspicious, if not frowned upon. This sort of Puritanism is something that the Greens regard as almost sacred - so to make light of it, to ridicule it or to take it less than seriously is, to them profoundly profane. The reason they regard it as profane is because they implicitly recognize such humor as the profound undercutting enemy that it is.

Well deserved ridicule is corrosive for movements such as the Greens because it punches a hole in the bubble of holier-than-thou self righteousness and moral authority that they have carefully built up around themselves. And there is very little that the Greens can say in response to such ridicule because it is based on the TRUTH: anyone who is even half paying attention can grasp that the Greens ARE a bunch of obnoxious, holier than thou, nanny state worshiping BULLIES.

Finally, the fact that this aired in a superbowl commercial rather than, say, as part of one of Rush Limbaugh's funny parodies, is also huge. In our culture, refusing to give environmentalism its (allegedly) proper respect in a mainstream setting has been something that is profoundly taboo. It is simply not something that respectable people do in polite company. This commercial is a slap at that taboo. It is one little thing that helps crack the facade and open the door for others to subsequently go down the same path.

2) The second thing the commercial accomplishes is that it VERY explicitly demonstrates the connection between the Green agenda and the authoritarian police state tactics which will be required if it is ever to be implemented in a serious sort of way. As the Tea parties and the approval ratings of Obama/Pelisi/Reid have shown, authoritarianism is NOT something that most Americans find especially attractive.

(Continued in part 3)

Dismuke said...

(Part 3)

To suggest that the Greens are authoritarian, is not, in and of itself especially new or profound. Anybody who listens to certain radio talk shows or reads certain blogs has already been made aware of it. But here we are talking about a mainstream venue where discussing the totalitarian nature of the Left is almost as big of a no-no as referring to socialism as "socialism" (another taboo that is happily been chipped away at since Obama came into office).

Sure, thanks to that commercial, some people will perhaps realize the connection between the Greens and authoritarianism for the first time. But, more importantly, it sends the implicit message that it is OKAY for people point out that connection in a mainstream setting.

The Green agenda does NOT have truth on its side - as the climate scandals are demonstrating. The ONLY thing that the movement has left and the one thing that maintains its self-proclaimed monopoly on Truth and Virtue is its unchallengeable facade of moral superiority. If that goes away the game is up. In the past, those who sought to challenge the unchallengeable were ostracized, isolated, defamed, demeaned and subjected to scorn and ridicule. Now the ridicule is starting to be turned on them and inconvenient truths are starting to come out - and not just from Right wing talk shows and bloggers who, themselves, have been thusly demeaned and isolated.

It doesn't matter what the motives of the ad writers are or that the ad is trying to get people to buy a Green car. All that matters is that, in about the most mainstream venue imaginable in our culture, the Green agenda was subjected to ridicule on an entirely proper and factual basis and its totalitarian implications were not merely asserted but dramatized and demonstrated. It is one more crack in the facade of environmentalism's invincibility.

Again, the impact of an ad such as this is necessarily going to be implicit. The sort of message it implicitly sends to people is: it is OKAY and not profane to question, challenge or even laugh at environmentalism - and lightening will not necessarily strike me if I do. It also sends an implicit message of: there IS another side to the environmentalist utopia that wasn't bought up when I was in school and that the Hollywood celebrities never mention.

These aren't so much as ideas but rather SEEDS of ideas that, once planted in the right mind, might lie dormant for awhile but could potentially come to life down the road when the person has an opportunity or need to give the issue some thought. Such seeds can help pave the way for people to be more receptive in the event they encounter someone with a well-articulated opposing point of view.

The commercial is also helpful in terms of its impact on Leftists and Greens who watch. These people are NOT used to being subjected to ridicule in mainstream venues - and most Leftists tend to be VERY thin skinned. This works to undermine their self-confidence. Furthermore, most Greens and Leftists spend a great deal of effort trying to evade and rationalize away the authoritarian implications of what they advocate. Making those implications explicit is not likely to change the Leftist's mind - most have too much vested in their worldview. What it WILL do is force them to evade even more while, at the same time, make them all the more strident in their views. While it is true that Leftists being more evasive and more strident can potentially make them more dangerous, it also makes them that much more self-destructive.

(Continued part 4)

Dismuke said...

(Part 4)

Of course, punching holes in the facade of environmentalism is, in and of itself, not sufficient. Destroy environmentalism and other form of irrationalism and anti-capitalism will come along and try and fill the void - just as environmentalism presently fills the same void left by the collapse of Communism. The answer in the long run to any form of totalitarianism is a clearly articulated movement that is pro reason, pro science, pro individual liberty. But punching the holes is still a good and desirable thing because it DOES help plant the cultural "seeds" which will help make people more inclined to be receptive to those who do seek to articulate a better message.

And if a bunch of environmentalists trying to sell a Green car are willing to spend millions of dollars - money that pro-liberty organizations do not have - on a superbowl ad poking fun of the Greens - well, I am all for it. Perhaps we can get the disgraceful pro-Obamacare management at Pfeizer to hire that same ad agency to do an ad for them - something along the lines of an old lady proudly boasting that all of her friends at her bridge club have been snuffed out by the Death Panels - but she is still going strong thanks to her Pfeizer prescription drugs.

Gus Van Horn said...

"[A]s others have observed, Puritanism, in today's culture, is no longer a Right wing phenomenon - it primarily exists on the Left. To take the Green agenda seriously and attempt to implement it in one's own life requires that one be willing to subject one's self to the dictates of a VERY strict form of Puritanism where pretty much any earthly pleasure outside of recreational drugs and indiscriminate sex is regarded as suspicious, if not frowned upon."

This is an underappreciated danger of the leftist/Green agenda: Its damnation of any and all enjoyment in human life.