Thursday, November 23, 2006


I saw Borat a while back. I really enjoyed it. It was really funny. But even funnier is all these people who are suing Sascha Baron Cohen claiming they were duped into appearing in the film even though they signed a release and, in most cases, were paid. One woman--the one who ran the etiquette school--has asked the California Attorney General to investigate the production company claiming that she signed the agreement under false pretenses because it was supposed to be a "documentary."

All this leads me to thinking about Ed Bradley. I was a great admirer of Ed Bradley's. He was a man of dignity, of intelligence, and of great character. He was a hero of journalism and of civil rights, and he was, from all appearances, a really nice guy.

But in the end, how was he different from Sascha Baron Cohen? How was what Ed Bradley did different? Really? They both interviewed people with the motive of getting to the truth behind their public persona. Sascha's interviews are just funnier. The difference is *not* that Borat is a persona because Ed Bradley the interviewer was also a persona. The hour long retrospective on Bradley's life proved that 60 Minutes ran proved that. The staid and serious interviewer was part of Ed Bradley, but off camera he was a much less staid and dignified sort. He would get up on stage (under the stage name "Teddy") and sing very poorly with Jimmy Buffet's band. You got the impression from the documentary that his best friend was Hunter S. Thompson. Not what most people who only knew Bradley from sixty minutes would expect.

Like Cohen, Bradley had many different personas. But which one was the "real" Ed Bradley? The free spirited joker who sang bad jazz and hung with Dr. Gonzo, or the staid and dignified reporter on 60 minutes? Of course the answer is both and neither. So what is the difference between that and what Cohen does?

Nothing. Not really. If these stupid lawsuits are successful, or if the the California AG actually brings some sort of charges against Cohen, it will be dangerous for any journalist.

The only real difference is that these idiots who are now suing signed a release and got paid.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Trump For President

Donald Trump is running for president. You heard it here first. He hasn't announced yet. He may drop out of the race before the he anounces. But he is running for president.

Last night I saw Trump speak at the Learning Annex Rel Estate Wealth Expo. There was such a rock star atmosphere it was like being at a Stones concert. He entered with a parade of beautiful women, a confetti drop, a guy dressed as a Trump bobble head doll and, of course the OJ's "For the Love of Money" (that's the apprentice theme) playing over the loud speakers. Over on my Live Journal on Saturday, I wrote that the expo was like the woodstock of seminars; huge, with an amazing variety of spectators and one speaker after another taking the main stage to adoring crowds in a circus like atmosphere. Trump was like Hendrix at Woodstock. He was headliner, he produced far and above the most buzz, bu because he was the last speaker he had a smaller crowd than Tony Robbins, who totally packed the room on Saturday.

But back to this president thing. When asked directly in the Q&A what it would take to get him to run, he gave the usual evasive answer "I like what I'm doing now," then added " but I'm really pssed off at our leaders." He did not give a Sherman statement. But the first third of his speech was devoted to how he would run things if he were president, how much better a negotiator he is than anybdy else, how he knew "a bunch of savage animals" from various board rooms whom he could stick into various cabinet spots who could make sure we got a better trade deal with China or a nuclear deal with Iran. And he was relentless on the subject of the war in Iraq. He really had the crowd going, and I turned to my girlfriend and said "he's running." I don't think being King of New York is good enough for him anymore.

Oh, and he's a great speaker. He was the most natural of the speakers there. He was funny, charming, interesting, and completely natural. He wandered off point a bit but always came back to where he had started and somehow made it make sense. He was by far the most engaging speaker there--and like I said we saw Tony Robbins the day before. And inspite of his rep, among people he's a really nice guy--not nice in a politician kiss your baby srt of way, but nice in a genuine way. He even offered help to those who asked: anyone who wnated a job, needed a referal, had a deal going on they wanted advice on, he said "write me with the details and I'll give you an answer." And Trump is known for answering his own mail.

But the greatest thing about Trump was how funny he was. He made reference to his image as a lothario and joked about it. He made jokes about his hair. Of all the people I saw, he swore like a sailor. He is a New Yorker after all. Other speakers stopped short, using words like "freaking," and sometimes almst blowing it. Trump said "fuck you." And he knew it shocked a few people, but he's Donald Trump. What are they going to do? The mans a billionaire, he's the star of the show, he can do what he wants.

(Tony Robbins did swear once, and I'm told Kiyasaki cursed like the Marine he is, and I suspect James Cramer did too, but they were the other keynote speakers so they could get away with it too).

The other day I wrote about the various New Yorkers who are already in the presidential mix, and how Hillary leads the pack here in town. Throw Trump into that mix. He's running, and he's got more cross party appeal than Giulianni, more name recognition than Hillary, and more money than Bloomburg. He coudl speel trouble for every body.

Oh yeah, and I'd vote for him.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New York vs New York vs New York

The New York media has gone crazy over the next presidential ellection. Ever since former mayor Giulliani opened his exploratory committee, it's been nuts. The mid-term election is only a week past, and presidential fever has gripped the city.

You can hardly blame them. New Yorkers are totally secure in their belief that everything revolves around them. The spot about fifteen feet in front ofthe Times Square Police Station is the geographical center of the Universe. It's been proven by some genius or other. It's also been proven that you can't get a good italian meal West of the Hudson. At least as far as New Yorkers are concerned.

So the possibility of four New York political celebrities running for president at the same time has the media in a tizzy and New Yorkers even more full of themselves than usual. Giulliani has formed a committee, everybody knows that Hilary is running no matter what she says, and Mayor Bloomburg and Governor Pataki are both likely to throw their hats in as well. There's also talk of new Gov Eliot Spitzer joining the race, and nobody is ever sure what the reverand Shaprton is going to do. So New Yorkers should be forgiven for thinking their place in the sun just got a bit brighter.

A poll was conducted yesterday by one of the local news stations that found that, while Mayor Giulliani is more popular outside the city, more than 60% of New Yorkers favor Senator Clinton for president, with Mayor Bloomburg third and Governor Pataki bringing up the rear. But there is way more to this story than that.

If he runs Mayor Giullani will pass Senator McCain as the favorite for the Republican nomination. In spite of his support for gay rights and his pro-choice stance, the good will he built up as "America's Mayor" after 9-11 will lift him to instant front runner status. It is very likely that he would get the nomination. Hilary is pretty much a lock for the democratic nomination (unless Obama enters the race, anyway, and even then she'll still probably get the nod). That would mean both the major party candidates would be from New York. But here is the real kicker. Mayor Bloomburg is seriously considering a run not as a Republican but as an independent, and like H. Ross Perot before him he's got the money to make a real go of it.

Think of it. In two years we could have a three way race for president with all the horses coming out of the same stable. It would be New York vs New York vs New York.

And then New Yorkers will truly become insufferable.

It will be heaven!

Monday, November 13, 2006

The New Democrats

You know, there might be something to this whole "new Democrat" thing. This Tester guy from Montana is a great example. This morning the Times called him "Your Grandfather's Democrat," and he clearly is: a real praire populist. He's pro gun, pro God, anti Gay marraige but doesn't think the Constitution should be ammended to prevent it. Months ago I wrote that the Democratic Party had to sluff off it's decades old cloak of being "the party of all the downtrodden" and get back to real FDR type populism, wherein we stand for sticking up for the middle class. If Tester is representatice of the New Democrats then that is exactly what we have done. He is more conservative than the party leaders, more than me too, but he is not a Clintonian Republocrat: Clinton was an architect of the new mercantile globalism. These guys we've just voted in are here to protect American workers, not American investors. Tester is a great example. He is a small farmer working the same farm that's been in his family since 1916. His biggest issue is how foreign agriculture and de-regulation has hurt small farmers like him.

I've got two words for you: Smoot Hawley.

Meet the new boss.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Dancing in the streets

There is a huge rain storm in New York today, one of those biblical deluges that occasionally make their ways up from the tropics. The streets are flooded, the subways are filling up, and if you looked up with you mouth open you’d drown. And there are people dancing in the streets.

It is such a change from two years ago. There is hope in New York City. There is elation in the cafes. There is giggling in the corridors.

There are way overblown expectations.

I wake up this morning and we’ve got a 33 vote majority in the house, and it looks like we’ve taken the senate too. I haven’t felt so good about being wrong in a long time! The republicans are praying that they can hold onto half the Senate so Cheney can be the tie-breaking vote. But with Sanders and Lieberman caucusing with the democrats and it looks like Webb has won Virginia, we win!

Unless they actually get Lieberman to jump parties. I guarantee Cheney is calling him every twenty minutes offering him women, drugs, barrels of oil, promising to shoot anyone Lieberman wants him to, if he’ll jump parties and actually admit that he’s a republican (we know it already, but we pretend otherwise). They are probably trying it with Robert Byrd as well. It worked with Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

But not in the house! Thirty-three! The pathetic conservative mouthpieces over at Fox Network News have been spinning this as not really a democratic win. They’re false democrats. All these new congress people are “new democrats.” They’re pro gun, some of them are even pro life. “Who” they say cryptically “will they follow: their liberal party leaders or the president?”

Well, I guess they’ve got to spin it some way. They’re not really democrats must be the best thing they came up with. But not 33 of them. It won’t mean a thing. Nancy Pelosi my congresswoman (!!!) is going to be speaker of the house. I can’t wait to hear the sergeant of arms call out “Madame Speaker, the President of the United States!”

At Vox Pop this morning all the talk was about politics as usual, but there was an unusual amount of glee involved and something that sounded vaguely like hope. Of course, they were a bit down that none of the Green Party candidates won—Vox Pop endorsed the greens. So I guess it was a glass half full morning in the new beatnik café.

My mother told me she woke up in the middle of the night full of panic and fear about the election results. Two years ago I wrote about the feeling of shock and awe that gripped New York after Bush’s reelection victory. Today my mother felt that feeling, along with (presumably) most of the south and everybody in the West Wing. She told me she voted the 2nd Amendment slate right down the line, which I presume meant no democrats. Gripped with fear, she had visions of Nancy Pelosi coming into town and personally taking away her handgun, chaining the door to the church, and then taxing her right out of the double-wide. Kind of how I felt two years ago, but in reverse.

We are victims of our own fears. I guess the terrorists did win after all.

But today is my day to gloat! It’s my turn to feel good again. We won! “A Thumping” President Bush called it. I guess that sums it up. We came, we saw, we kicked some ass! We are the champions! More wine and dancing girls for my men!

And oh! The day just gets better. Donald Rumsfeld almost immediately saw the writing on the wall and took off for his new career on the lecture circuit. He fell on his sword like a republican Frankie Pentangeli. Apparently, Bush had this Gates guy all lined up. It came after long and frank talks with the president (filling in for Robert Duval). Two years ago I walked into the adjunct room and, like everywhere else in town there was dismay. Today I walked in and the first words out of Craig’s mouth (smiling a pixie smile) were “did you hear about Rumsfeld?” He could barely contain himself.

Here’s something almost frightening in a blissful sort of way. Over on the Colbert Report Seven C is crowing about how every politician he profiled, incumbents and challengers, won their races. Apparently, a few political reporters have noticed too, and really don’t know what to make of it. That’s almost as good as Ned Lamont’s Jimmy Stewart commercial.

So it’s a bright new day in America. Now let’s see what happens in two years.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Mr. Lamont

I just saw the best/worst political ad I've ever seen. It wasn't an add, it was a beer comercial! Ned Lamont had himself digitally placed in the famous filibuster scene from Mr. Smith goes to washington. I couldn't believe it! This is politics as entetainment. It was the most post-modern add I've ever seen. It was ridiculous!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Stupid f**king Democrats!

So things are looking pretty good for the Dems in the midterm elections, like maybe they'll re-take control of congress, and then gay marraige and John Kerry rear their collectively ugly heads, and now we're right ack where we started!

My prediction: The house is still likely, the senate is out of reach.

But I'm hoping for a landslide.