Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wow, part two

1.) Obama has got it. He is sounding like Bill Clinton. He is sounding almost like a republican, talking about responsibility and cutting the size of government. Things we don't need, even if we'd like to have them, are going to have to be cut. Watch out NEA.

2.) Obama is totally cracking Bill Clinton up. He practically fell off his chair a second ago.

3.) I'm voting for the Irish guy from Kansas.


So here are the amazing things about this election:

Regular every day people are talking about the election on the street.

The new polls in Pennsylvania are known and discussed by people in the middle of a business meeting of phone call.

Today on Hardball I saw tom DeLay calling Barack Obama a Marxist. Theses people know nothing about Marxism. If they think Barack Obama is a Merxist they don't know the difference between Karl and Groucho.

I got home late tonight and instead of watching the Daily Show my sweetie was watching the Obama/Bill Clinton rally in Florida. (it should come as no surprise that as good a speaker as Obama is he is an amateur next to Bill Clinton).

This election is so big, so interesting, so importnat, so full of meaning, that it has replaced football, TV, and pop culture as the thing we are watching, talking about about, dreaming about, thinking about, caring about.

This is great.

Monday, October 27, 2008


The news that a plot has been uncovered to assassinate Barack Obama is, unfortunately, not at all surprising. Back in the spring, newspapers were running stories about how some people were worried about voting for Obama because they thought he would be assassinated if he got the nomination. When I was taking my bow-hunting certificate class last month the election was a hot topic of conversation, and the general opinion of the other people there (most of whom could be considered pretty right wing) was that if Obama got elected he wouldn’t live to inauguration day. So it comes as no surprise. There are plenty of people all over this country who would be happy to go out and shoot black people, and who can’t stomach the idea of a black president (worse yet, as both Lewis Farrakhan and David Duke would point out, a president of mixed race).

That it was a skinhead plot is to be expected. Many skinheads identify as white supremacists and even as Nazis, whether here in the US or abroad. They are probably a more potent hate group than either the American Nazi Party or the KKK. And they attract more youth, who are more likely to go out and plan something this moronic. Less impulse control.

No, what I found interesting about the plot that was announced today was that the two suspects, 20 year old Daniel Cowart of Tennessee and 18 year old Paul Schlesselman of Arkansas, “stated they would dress in all white tuxedos and wear top hats during the assassination attempt.” (AP). Now that’s interesting. That is a flair for the theatrical. These are guys who have seen a lot of movies. Real *Clockwork Orange* stuff. They’d be like The Ex Presidents from *Point Break* or a street gang from *The Warriors.* How they expected to get close to a presidential candidate while dressed like they were ushers at a Long Island Mob wedding I don’t know, but it shows they had a sense of style. What was it John Malkovich said in *In The Line of Fire?* “Booth had flair, panache: a leap to the stage after he shot Lincoln.” That’s these guys. White tuxes and top hats (probably black top hats, which would show panache along with a terrible fashion sense). I don’t believe in the purported causal link between movie violence and actual violence, but for those who make that argument this dash of theatricality topping of what was a very intricate, Hollywood-like plan for a killing spree (in addition to Senator Obama they were planning to shoot 88 black people and decapitate 14—exact numbers; are these guys anal retentive or what?) has to be seen as the influence of movies on some susceptible and, lets face it, extremely stupid minds.

Hell hath no fury like a bored suburbanite.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tinpot, tailor, soldier, spy

It's is part due, I know. complaining about Bush is so passe. But I came across this quote and felt I needed to share it:

"How Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America's anger from Bin Laden to Saddam Hussein is one of the great public relations conjuring tricks of history."

The interesting thing is that the quote's author is John Le Carree, who would certainly know.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happy Aniversary

It has been 2,000 days since president Bush declared that we had won the war in Iraq. Mission Accomplished.

Riding in on a white horse, Keynes makes a comeback

My apologies to David D. Friedman, whom I admire greatly, but John Maynard Keynes is back in vogue. It is of course obvious, but now official, that Keynesian economics has returned over the past month and with a vengeance.

According to an article in this morning's New York Times, even groups that normally lobby for a balanced budget have declared that now is not the time. We will borrow and spend our way out of the current economic crisis. Purchasing direct ownership positions in the major banks is an even more dramatic step. What all this amounts to is a rebirth of Keynesian economics, the theory of macroeconomics that dominated the twentieth century but which, since the time or Regan, had been discredited, primarily through the work of Milton Friedman and the Chicago School, who argued for small government and free markets. One element of Keynesian theory, which became the driving principle behind American and European economic policy after the great depression, was that deficit spending is actually a good thing, and that in times of economic crisis governments and institutions should borrow money to inject into the economy. That is exactly what we are doing now. The supply-siders are running for cover. But the really interesting thing is that there are now very few supply-siders out there. Everybody seems to be arguing for more deficit spending to shore up our economy. Even George W. Bush.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Is it over?

Does Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama seal the deal? After all, Powell is one of the most prominent Republicans of the last two decades. This shows that the supposed rift in the republican party is indeed huge. He is also one of the great deans of foreign policy, a former secretary of state. On top of that, he is one of the great deans of military policy, a war hero and former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Foreign and military policy were supposed to be Obama's weak points. When our greatest living general, a secretary of state from the other party, endorses a guy, that kind of mutes a lot of criticism about Obama's patriotism and his readiness.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Ok, let me say some good things about Sarah Palin now. There are some good thigns to say.

Apparently, she is a pretty good governor, even my democrat friends in Alaska say so.

She knows how to filed dress a moose.

She is hot. I mean very hot. A real G-Milf.

She represents a segment of the American electorate that is too often belittled and overlooked by us in the media, us academics, and us in New York--an iconic America that includes Andy Hardy, Homer Price, Norman Rockwell Paintings, my mother's whole side of the family, Superman's home town, John Melencamp songs, Mayberry North Carolina, NASCAR, most Kevin Kostner movies, A Christmas Story, and Pogo. In other words, all those icons that represented America when I was growing up. I have got to say that in my mind as a youth, that is what represented America, not Times Square or 5th Avenue or Brooklyn.

She just appeared on Saturday Night Live and was pretty funny. Mostly she was funny because of Tina Fey, Loren Michaels, Mark Whalberg, and Alec Baldwin surrounding her, but she was still good in her own right.

She really did take on corruption in her own party and Big Oil up in Alaska and won both times.

She is funny, charming, and has a sense of humor.

That bit about field dressing a moose (digression coming) is actaully very important. I will admit it: one reason I was supporting Bill Richardson at the beginning of the primaries is because he hunts. He's a sportsman. I am not a hunter. I have walked through the woods with a shotgun a couple of times, and I will be out on stand on the opening day of rifle/deer season next month hoping to put Bambi on the table, but I ahve yet to actually shoot anything, so I'm not really a hunter yet. But as longtime readers know, I am a pretty staunch supporter of the 2nd amendment and of sportsmen's rights. Richardson was not only the most qualifed candidate politically in my mind, but he was also the one on both sides who would be best for hunters (Like Dean he'd been endorsed by the NRA as governor--another reason I like Dean). I was hoping that if we had a real sportsman in the White House that it would give sportsmen's issues a boost and maybe even spur a rebirth in the popularity of hunting. While this is not as big an issue for me as civil liberties, foreign relations, the economy, the war, or health care, it is still an issue I care deeply about. Sarah Palin with her popularity has the potential to prompt people, especialy women, to take up hunting as well (Cheney's been a disaster in that department). That's why, as funny as I sometimes find it, it bothers me when comedians portray her as some dumb moose-killing redneck. but even if she doesn't win, she might help the cause. She is very popular among certain segments of the electorate, after all--and not just the extreme Christian right.

So here's to Sarah! Somebody I'd love to have a drink with or spend a week at a deer camp with. I'm hoping she can inspire more people to take hunter safety courses and take responsibility for their place in the food chain. I just don't want her to be Vice President.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Here is the problem I have with GITMO beyond torture and due process, which to me are issues which should trump all others but which I recognize as questions of value (I'm happy to argue them as such, but in another post because I realize that people dig their heels in on such topics).

Here's the simple, practical problem with GITMO: we have been told over and over again that the reason we need to keep prisoners at GITMO is because if we let them go they will just attack them again, ergo closing GITMO would put us in greater danger than we are already in. The problem with that is that thinking is that in opening GITMO, denying due process, and violating every tenant of freedom and justice that we claim to stand for, we have engendered so much hatred that we have created thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of *new* terrorists who hate us and want to destroy us. GITMO has made us less safe, not more: less safe by an exponential factor. If we were to close GITMO today and release everybody there, they would only be a drop in the bucket.

With that in mind the best thing the next president could do with the GITMO detention facility is close it down. Maybe there are a couple of high-profile Al Queda leaders we want to actually put on trial for real, but let the rest of them go. It really won't put us in any more danger, and the good will we would engender from it world wide would be worth so much more. We'd start to regain our status in the world and take away one of the terrorists greatest recruitment tools.

(tripple take)

Say WHAT???

Under the headline "Iceland Slashes Rates, Seeks Rusian Help", Reuters is reporting that Iceland's central bank is aggressively attacking their financial crisis by slashing interest rates from 15.5% to 12%.


Can things really be bad in America when our Fed Funds rate is 1.75?

Or is this why things are so bad?

15.5%? Are you sure? The Russians?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Long time readers of this blog know I used to talk about sports and movies, not just politics. Now I tend to do that elsewhere, on blogs that are locked for friends or even in (ghasp!) real conversation. But I was reading column by my favorite sports columnist Ray Ratto and it got me, well, annoyed.

Hanna has long commented on the fact that while my favorite college team, the Cal Bears, rarely sell out, her alma mater the University of Michigan sells out the largest stadium in the country for every game. She loves to brage about the time she saw a five-to-nothing game in a freezing ice storm. That a college would not sell out a game shocks and offends her. Well, I looked it up. 58,000 saw Cal's last home game, a win over Arizona State. Not too shabby, but well below the 75,000 capacity.

According to Ray, Stanford won a squeeker this weekend. They came from behind using a weird offense and scored in the last seconds to beat the favored Arizona Wildcats by one point. There were 15,000 people in the stands.

And it was homecoming.

Has the time finally come to put a fork in Stanford football and call it done? I hope not. I've seen somw fun games in Stanford's old stadium, including a win over Notre Dame the last year that Stanford went to the Rose Bowl. And the Big Game is still my favorite game of the year. But does anyone else care?

Friday, October 10, 2008

Great F#@king timing

Connecticut, following Massachusetts and California, legalized gay marriage today through court action. The CT Supreme Court found, as had California's and Massachusetts' that marriage laws that define marriage as being between a man and a woman deny equal protection to gays. As far as I am concerned this is as obvious as saying the sky is blue on a clear day. But the timing is disastrous. Three weeks before the election, with a ballot initiative in California trying to amend the states constitution to overturn the court's decision, and with Sarah Palin trying desperately to inject social issues into the presidential campaign, the timing couldn't be better for the Republicans. They can finally try to distract everyone from the economy with a good old wedge issue--the same one they employed in 2004. Hopefully the American people are smart enough (or scared enough) not to let them get away with that crap.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Tragedy of Orenthal

I have done the state some service.....

O.J. has gone down. We all knew he would. The jury in Nevada convicted him and he could spend the rest of his life in prison. Let's face it: there was no way he was beating this rap. I really don't think he did what they've accused him of. I really don't think he deserves to spend more than a few days in the clink over this stuff even if he did do it. The judge instructed the jury they were only to look at this case and not past accusations. None of that matters. He was going down. This jury just convicted him of killing Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. It had nothing to do with anything else. There was no way he was walking away from this one. Oj had become the symbol of everything that was wrong with the justice system. People believed he had gotten away with double murder (for the record I remain unsure on that, but that doesn't matter either). People complain that celebrities get off too easily. But it works the other way too. If somebody becomes infamous enough a jury will take them down at the first opportunity. You've heard of "jury nullification?" It works the other way too. It's a type of justice, I guess.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A tie! Everybody wins!!

Really, whomever you think won tonight's VP debate is going to be the person you were already going to vote for. Both candidates did well, both played to their strengths, both played to their parties, both are going to be heralded the winners by the people who were already going to vote for them in the first place.

I do *not* hate to say I told you so when I say I told you that Sarah Palin was going to doa good job in the debate tonight. She was funny, smart, played to the camera really well. The first part of the debate she was clearly winning. Biden, though he was doing ok, really didn't get going till the last half hour. But then he poured it on and scored big. When he went after McCain listing all the ways that McCain is not a maverick, and when he choked up talking about his wife and daughter dying, Biden scored the biggest pointts of the night. But not a knock out. Her big moments, especially when she said she obviously didn't understand how things worked in Washington and then accused Biden of flip-flopping, were good scores as well. But as Sugar Ray Leonard can tell you (and Marvin Hager for that matter) winning at the end is what wins you the fight.

I thought she did a great job. She came off as intelligent and and competent and looked, at last, like a viable Vice Presidential candidate. I'm not at all surprised. Olberman of course will look incredulous and try to say she came off as an idiot, but that's his schtick. Maher's too. I do not think this will revive Sarah-mania. I think we are past that now. As I said earlier, this is going to be decided by people's feeling on the headliners, not the side kicks. And it will be decided on the economy.

Speaking of which, a much bigger deal was the fact,a s Chuck Todd reported, that McCain is essentially pulling out of Michigan. With Obama up in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Ohio and leading by ten points over all, McCain is in trouble. If he throws the towell in in any of those states it is pretty much over.

My only question is this: what will Tina Fey do now?


Although that second SNL skit about Sarah Palin (the Katie Couric interview) has been all over the news shows, the best line from it didn't make it into prime time: "In an effort to bone up on foreign policy I went to the Times Square area to see a film called 'The Bush Doctrine.' It was not about politics."

I have really two things to say about the debate tonight, which I'm going to DVR and might get around to watching after I catch up on Boston Legal. The first is that Sarah Palin is going to do much better than people think she will. She may not have the firmest grasp of the issues but she connects well with people, which is a much bigger deal (remember GHW Bush looking at his watch?). The second is that it won't matter. Real issues have replaced lipstick in the national focus, and Palin vs. Biden is now a side show.