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Beto O'Rourke Has One Setting: Loud and Earnest

Charles P. Pierce
Photo credit: Melanie Stetson Freeman - Getty Images

From Esquire

(Permanent Musical Accompaniment To The Last Post Of The Week From The Blog's Favourite Living Canadian)

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA-On Friday, I took in the Beto O'Rourke Experience for the first time, at an outdoor rally on the campus of the University of South Carolina. O'Rourke was making his first swing through this state, about which more anon. He bounced onto the stage in a USC ballcap, led the crowd in the traditional "Game! Cocks!" call-and-response chant. And then delivered a speech that, I believe, consisted of one single 40-minute sentence.

It took in a smattering of Spanish, a paean to the 1966 NCAA Champion Texas Western minors, the civil rights struggle both within and without O'Rourke's native El Paso, the climate crisis, the cost of prescription drugs, student loans, and every other conceivable issue that might arise during the 2020 campaign. He spoke with the same level of passion about all of them. O'Rourke has one rhetorical setting-loud and earnest. But the most interesting part of his appearance on campus Friday was the Q-and-A session that ended it. For the first time, somebody got O'Rourke simply...to...slow...down.

He handled the bogus controversy about how much money his late Senate campaign got from people in the oil and gas industry by pointing out that most of it came in small amounts from the grunts in the industry.

"As you can imagine in Texas, there are a lot of people-they may be out in the field. They may be engineers. They may be welders. They may be truck drivers. They may be secretaries, working for oil and gas companies. We were one of the top recipients of oil and gas money-ten bucks, twenty bucks, a hundred bucks at a time. At the same time, we were also the top recipient of hairdresser money, and pharmacist money, and doctors and schoolchildren, and just about every profession. The people in Texas-and some of you in South Carolina-stepped up and made sure that Texas, a state so reliably red that no Democrat ever competed or feared to tread, made sure that, if we banded together, which every one of the 254 counties banded together and did no let oil and gas corporation, any special interest to purchase access or corrupt, or give the appearance of corruption, we might just win."

By the end of the answer, he had them cheering. His crowd was young, as might be expected, and it was overwhelmingly white, which may be significant. South Carolina is going to be the first real test of the ability of the Democratic field to connect with African American voters, a vital constituency for any Democratic presidential candidate. If O'Rourke is going for the Obama '08 inside straight, he's still a little bit short of it, which isn't that big a problem considering the primary is a year away. But he's going to have to put some meat on the superheated grill of his rhetoric. Enthusiasm isn't enough.

Photo credit: Melanie Stetson Freeman - Getty Images

Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click:"Banks of Newfoundland" (Siobhan Miller): Yeah, I pretty much still love New Orleans.

Weekly Visit To The Pathe Archives: In 1962, four Capuchin monks were brought to trial for conspiracy to commit extortion, blackmail, robbery, and murder, all of which, I am fairly sure, are in violation of their vows. The so-called "Mazzarino Friars" started out by extorting their superiors in the Capuchin order and moved on quickly to shaking down local businessmen. The Church and its propagandists in the local press accused unnamed anti-Catholic Communists of setting up the friars. (One of the primary witnesses may have been "suicided" in custody.) The civilian assassins were convicted. The four priests were acquitted. 'Twas ever thus. History is so cool.

Is it a good day for dinosaur news, ScienceDaily? it's always a good day for dinosaur news!

"This is the rex of rexes," said Scott Persons, lead author of the study and postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Biological Sciences. "There is considerable size variability among Tyrannosaurus. Some individuals were lankier than others and some were more robust. Scotty exemplifies the robust. Take careful measurements of its legs, hips, and even shoulder, and Scotty comes out a bit heftier than other T. rex specimens."

Scotty, nicknamed for a celebratory bottle of scotch the night it was discovered, has leg bones suggesting a living weight of more than 8,800 kg, making it bigger than all other carnivorous dinosaurs. The scientific work on Scotty has been a correspondingly massive project. The skeleton was first discovered in 1991, when paleontologists including T. rex expert and UAlberta professor Phil Currie were called in on the project. But the hard sandstone that encased the bones took more than a decade to remove -- only now have scientists been able to study Scotty fully-assembled and realize how unique a dinosaur it is.

It took 28 years to get a complete look at this guy. That's a lot of work, but an 8,000 kg tyrannosaur is worth the wait, and surely lived then to make its discoverers, and us, happy now.

Top Commenter Chris Caswell locked up Top Commenter of the Week because he let his creative freak flag fly regarding Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin's decision to let his kids get chicken pox.

What wasn't reported in the story: Bevin used a crayon to connect the dots that appeared on his children's skin. When laid out side by side, the children then revealed a very good likeness of Edvard Munch's The Scream.

IIRC, there was an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show in which his son connected his freckles and made a depiction of the Liberty Bell. This is like that, except with epidemic disease. Anyway, 90.77 Beckhams to you, good sir.

Jesus, it's weird to be chasing campaigns again. It seems like only yesterday, and yet, it seems like it's been 300 years instead of three. Anyway, be well and play nice, ya bastids. Stay above the snake-line, and, if somebody yells, "Game!" at you, reply, loudly, "Cocks!" and then wait for the cops.

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