Saturday, August 04, 2007


Through the Looking Glass (Romney Edition)

(Madscribe, With apologies to Mr. Carroll ... )

'Twas brilliant, and in slimy tones
Did George and Lenore's son get nabbed
All flimsy when he sound like Rove
His Mormon's wrath out-gabbed

The fact that candidates for president from both parties threw their hats (pillbox, porkpie, or otherwise) into the ring so early in the process means that they've set themselves up for a lot of potential "Dean Scream" moments.

I've been pretty cool (hell, downright cold) to a Romney candidacy considering his church's teachings on the black race for most of its history. ("I'll have a bowl of Oatmeal Cush with a side of Cursed Ham.") That aside, I found it amusing that when the cameras are officially "on," Romney sounds like a cue-card reading idiot. However, when the official cameras and mikes are 'off," (about seven minutes into the video) he actually makes intelligent, reasoned and rational points about the need for the separation of a politico's personal religious beliefs and the imposition of public policy and laws on the beliefs of others.

We now have the true Jabberwocky candidate for our times. In "real life," he's a flip-flopping GOP counterpart to John Kerry. When the mixing board gets turned down, however, Romney is the Republican equivalent of the gun moll in Superman III. When in public, she acted like a brain-dead, blonde idiot. Whenever she was alone and thought no one was looking, however, she would grab paperbacks of Nietzsche and Kierkegaard from under the couch to contemplate existential philosophy.

UPDATE: New RT hyperlinks, now with extra SMARTYNESS©.

If any readers would like to pleasantly surprise Rodak and me, links to Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche now included. My own introduction to Nietzsche, I kid you not, was as a six-year-old looking up "Superman" in the set of encyclopedias given to my parents as a gift when I was born. I remember sitting in front of the TV in 1972 with the "S" volume and reading "SUPERMAN: See also Nietzsche, Friederich." What the heck, I thought, everyone knows Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman! Thus was my introduction to modern philosophy. So, existientalism and lousy films by the Richards Lester and Pryor all cosmically tie together in one big blog knot.

For the conservatively inclined, the one book by Dr. Laura that I own, from 1996 when she still made sense and hadn't become her fascist kid's mother yet ...

UPDATED UPDATE: Thanks to Rodak, I realize that I really have become an American Idiot (cue Green Day). I used to read books with titles like this and this in high school. Now ... I actually watch Family Guy. AAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Retro Record Moment

In honor of long-time RT stalwart Rodak and his new blog, an enjoyable quartet I discovered on PBS in high school in the documentary The Weavers: Wasn't That a Time. (Sorry, Rob, when it comes to Folk, I've always thought the Kingston Trio was to this group what the Archies were to MC5)

I'm assuming one of the MSU Greasers depicted on the current page is our own Rodak. I'm guessing the swarthy one. Seeing as how I'm a Buckeye that hates Ohio State and used to drill in Michigan's beautiful-but-freezing-even-in-July Upper Peninsula as a Reservist, I say "Go Spartans!"

Speaking of "Goodnight, Irene," I used to have this Leadbelly movie poster hanging up on my bedroom door during my wannabe militant days at OSU. I thought Roger Mosley looked like a badder mofo than Malcolm X ...

UPDATE: Another one for Rodak. A free Beatnik-ready Demitasse if you guess the Banjo Player without looking it up on YouTube!

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Friday, August 03, 2007


Open Thread

Thread away, thread away, Dixie land!

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The Hillary-Dick Problem

Hillary Clinton can't win with Dick Morris. In his latest column, he goes after the former first lady for committing a "big-time goof" in her tiff last week with Obama on the idea of negotiating wtih U.S. "enemies":
Put very simply, Hillary is on the wrong side of this particular issue for the Democratic primary electorate. Scott Rasmussen's daily tracking poll shows that Democrats agree with Obama that the president should meet with these foreign leaders without preconditions by 55 percent to 22. His polling shows that Democrats are outsiders who take literally JFK's thesis that we "should never negotiate out of fear, but should never fear to negotiate."


But most Americans, and especially most Democrats, think that this kind of insider-think is precisely the problem with our foreign policy. They see nothing lost by negotiating and much potential gain from coming to points of mutual understanding.

But the real question is: Why have Hillary and her people persisted in using this issue to beat Obama over the head? Aren't they polling? Do they not know that the issue is bad for them -- or, with Hillary staking out an intransigent and stubborn position, do they not care?

So, in Morris' eyes, there are only two possible options for Hillary's actions -- both negative: Her campaign is either incompetent -- "Aren't they polling? Do they not know that the issue is bad for them..." -- or too intractable, "staking out an intransigent and stubborn position..."It is impossible for Morris to consider that Hillary has crafted a political image for her campaign of a strong leader, unafraid to take positions that might put her at variance with some aspects of her base -- in order to be in the strongest possible position for the general election campaign.

Andrew Sullivan has been taking Hillary to task in a similar fashion for being a Democrat scarred by the culture wars of the '70s and '80s -- and thus drafts her campaign cautiously out of fear of being branded as a "liberal."

I think something else is going on here.

Hillary has made a decision from the beginning of her campaign that, when it comes to issues of national security, she is going to be the strongest, most forceful, candidate in the field. She, too, will demonstrate "no fear", -- but lack of fear in a specific manner: No fear of using force, no fear of using nuclear weapons. Hillary recognizes that, apart from the specific problems she has to overcome as "Hillary Rodham Clinton," she recognizes that she has to overcome the perception that a woman won't be as tough as a man -- particularly in a wartime environment.

That is why she hasn't backed away from her war vote. That's why she jumped on Obama over the "negotiating with dictators." She probably knows full well that she'll take a small hit over it with Democrats -- just like she knows that she might get a small bump from Democrats if she disavowed her war vote. But she knows that backing down would have a much more damaging impact on the broader strategy she is pursuing -- a strong woman who is ready to be the commander-in-chief.

And, given Obama's arguable stumbles since that debate moment -- from invading Pakistan to use of nuclear weapons, it looks like Hillary's framing of him as "inexperienced" is ringing true. Because Morris is still obsessed by the poll-driven triangulation method of the '90s, he can't even credit Hillary for having a smart strategy that doesn't expose her to the sort of tactical landmines that Obama is inflicting upon himself.

But Dick Morris has blinders when it comes to Hillary and he can't see that she is running a very smart campaign -- which may well explain why she is consistently leading Obama.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007


Fred's Kehn Right Hand

Bob Novak rightly defends Fred Thompson's wife.

Yes, she happens to be good-looking -- and yes, she happens to be younger than the candidate.

The question is -- does she bring her own legitimate strengths to the campaign?

The answer to that is most definitely, "yes."

One might not like former political operatives, but it is an actual profession -- and Jeri Kehn, from what I noticed when I worked in Washington, was a very good, professional one.

There may be reasons not to like Fred Thompson, but his having a good looking wife isn't one of them.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007


The Case For Ron Paul

My friend Todd Seavey explains it to those on the right.

Oh, and here's Todd's blogosphere spot.


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Tuesday, July 31, 2007


A Multiple Innovator

Quite appropriately, former 49ers head coach Bill Walsh who died Monday is remembered for his dynamic offensive play-calling and the great San Francisco dynasty he created.

However, in the season after two black coaches made it to the Super Bowl, one shouldn't forget that Walsh was instrumental in integrating the head coach profession. In addition to starting the careers of Dennis Green and Ray Rhodes, he also launched the Minority Coaching Fellowship twenty years ago.

A smart man and a good man. He will be missed.

UPDATE: A full consideration of Walsh's career, including a coaching "family tree" -- linking him to Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith

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Monday, July 30, 2007


"There was this one time, at Soviet Band Camp ... "

I told RAG I'd be pairing down to weekly contributions from now on, but I couldn't let this little tidbit about state-encouraged lechery from the Daily Mail go without citation:

Obediently, couples move to a special section of dormitory tents arranged in a heart-shape and called the Love Oasis, where they can start procreating for the motherland.
With its relentlessly upbeat tone, bizarre ideas and tight control, it sounds like a weird indoctrination session for a phoney religious cult.
But this organisation - known as "Nashi", meaning "Ours" - is youth movement run by Vladimir Putin's Kremlin that has become a central part of Russian political life.

Nashi's annual camp, 200 miles outside Moscow, is attended by 10,000 uniformed youngsters and involves two weeks of lectures and physical fitness.
Attendance is monitored via compulsory electronic badges and anyone who misses three events is expelled. So are drinkers; alcohol is banned. But sex is encouraged, and condoms are nowhere on sale.
Bizarrely, young women are encouraged to hand in thongs and other skimpy underwear - supposedly a cause of sterility - and given more wholesome and substantial undergarments.
Twenty-five couples marry at the start of the camp's first week and ten more at the start of the second. These mass weddings, the ultimate expression of devotion to the motherland, are legal and conducted by a civil official.

Does this mean that Vladimir Putin is really a Moonie?! Or perhaps, a Shiite Muslim?!

Oh, to be young and Marxist, again!

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In A Parallel Universe...

...this is where I spent my vacation.

So close to San Diego (in Los Angeles for four days -- then to Santa Fe, NM) and yet so far!

Thanks, Madscribe, for the heads-up.

Oh, lots of stuff on Comic-Con can be seen
here (with more coverage on the actual G4 network).

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Virgin Docker-ies

New abstinence movements opening up on college campuses! They'd have to be at some fundie Christian school in the South, right?



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Go Figure...

The one area in which the Iraqis manage to get themselves together, figuratively and literally, in a civilized, winning manner happens to be the one pursuit that Americans have proven themselves completely lame for as long as anyone can remember -- "football."

And, of course, the score had to be 1-0. That's known as an offensive "surge" in footy terms!

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The Bitch Is Back

Well, after rejecting "Bitch Set Me Up", "I'll Be Doggone" and "Dogging Me Out", the above is the one I decided to use to celebrate my return -- and note Ed and Madscribe's feisty exchanges last week on the topic of one Michael Vick!

Good stuff there, good stuff!

Thank you both for capably filling in with a nice mix of posts -- and spicing things up with the type of rhetorical vicious dog-fighting that would make the aforementioned Mr. Vick proud.



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Sunday, July 29, 2007


Fear of Flying ("& Others")

It's ironic that the first draft of this post was composed on my Treo, some 30,000 ft. in the air.

I candidly admit to being a nervous flyer. I'm always antsy on takeoff and during the landing approach. I'm wary as we fly through the clouds and endure the inevitable bumpy interaction with the stormy cumulous variety. I recognize this worry even though I fly about three times a year and have averaged one international trip each year for the last decade. In my entire life, I can only recall one flight that could truly be considered violently rough. Yet, the fear still lingers.

At least it's not as bad as when I was younger: The first airplane ride I remember was when my mother and I moved from England to the U.S. I was about eight. We flew on JAL (Japanese Airlines). The plane arrived at JFK fine. Would that the same could be said for the contents of my stomach. Yep, it's true; I booted and, innocent that I was, the knowledge of an air-sickness bag was beyond me. So, I smelled just great for the bulk of the five-hour flight. For several years thereafter, I always took motion Dramamine or some other such motion relief before getting on a plane...

...until, one time, I simply forgot. Lo and behold, I was fine. Nervous, yes (more about getting sick than the flight itself), but my innards weathered the experience.

Back to the flight-phobia: On a conscious and mature level, I fully understand that flying is the safest form of transportation. Especially in contrast with driving. And yet..and yet...

As I've said occasionally when doing stand-up: I'll believe the statistical evidence when you show me ONE single car crash that produces 200 fatalities. I'm just sayin'.

Anyway to morbidly entertain myself, I now take note of possible ominous signs on a given flight (beyond the "Why are those men with beards chattering so avidly in a foreign language?" thoughts that occasionally spring to mind).

A boss of mine first got me onto this line of thinking after he returned from a cross-country trip to L.A. He said that he noticed when boarding his outbound flight a little kid (maybe 5 years old) carrying a stuffed animal nearly twice his size.

My boss said he immediately had this vision of where he'd seen such a stuffed animal: It was inevitably the poignant image that a news camera would linger upon amidst the floating-on-the-water debris of a jet airliner that went down with all on board lost.

You know the image I mean.

So, now, whenever I fly, I'm on the lookout for huge cute stuffed animals.

Secondly, there's the "famous person" concern. A few years ago, I went on a reporting trip to Sudan with Al Sharpton. The particular details matter little. However, at one point, the traveling party had to take a small one-propeller plane from Nairobi, Kenya into Sudan.

This is when the "& others" Postulate came to mind: You don't want to be flying around Africa with some famous person given that your epitaph could just be part of a lede that included "and others." As in: "A plane went down carrying [take your pick] Al Sharpton/Angelina Jolie/Bono AND OTHERS."

[Ironically, the closest I got to an "& others" moment on the Sharpton trip was AFTER we left Sudan and were preparing to fly home out of Kenya. As our modern large jetplane taxiied down the runway, a few seconds before we hit takeoff speed, there is a very loud POP. Everyone notices it -- and the mildly acrid smell that started to permeate the cabin. (And, no, I hadn't thrown up. )

Anyway, the plane aborts takeoff and returns to the terminal. It later turns out that the left engine had been taken out by an errant bird sucked in. And what would have happened had the engine gone kablooey a few seconds later -- actually upon takeoff?

Well, I think I would have gotten a sidebar mention from The Post. I think.]

So, what brings all this to mind as I fly from Albuquerque to Cincinnati (on to my "final destination", New York's LaGuardia)? Well, it might be that freshly-scrubbed-faces contingent of Boy Scouts that marched passed me as the plane boarded!

Boy Scouts? BOY SCOUTS?!?!? You gotta be kidding me.

Talk about tempting fate -- that combines the "cuteness" factor with the "among others" emotional grabber that my colleagues in journalism would draw to like nails on a magnet!

Where's my Dramamine?

Well, if you are reading this, it obviously means I made it home safe & sound.

If not, well my byline is now "and others..."

P.S. As the plane begins is descent into Cincy airspace, I casually ask the person in the seat next to me (he's been focused on the NYT crossword for most of the flight) what brought him to Albuquerque (he's flying into Newark).

He tells me: "I'm a doctor and four kids in my area just spent a week at a camp for children with cancer and other illnessess. I'm bringing them back home."

I say, "The Imus Ranch?"

He says "Yes."

Thank goodness I didn't ask the good doctor (he's a general pediatrician) earlier why he was flying.

I'm on a plane with Boy Scouts and kids with cancer!

Talk about tempting fate!

P.P.S. Fear aside, there are few more beautiful sites than seeing Manhattan when descending at night.


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