Friday, August 01, 2008


Open Thread

Make your point, my peeps.

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Jumping The Shark (-infested Red Sea)

Okay, so the "Celebrity" ad was, depending on one's point of view, dumb, devious, subtly racist, not-so-subtly sexist, etc. Regardless, it was controversial and got the Obama campaign to overreact and start talking about who's on the dollar bill (reminding some of us of the great line from Public Enemy "Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamp.")

Of course, the McCain camp couldn't let a good thing stand. Instead, they step on their own message -- with an ad that I assumed came from "The Daily Show". Seriously, it's that good a parody. Except, it's not a parody. Nope, it's the first thing you see when you go to the McCain web-site today.

Here it is, in all of it's glory:

Tell me I'm not the only one who had this thought: "But, isn't McCain old enough to have been advising Moses in that 'Escape From Egypt" campaign?

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Thursday, July 31, 2008


Nipped In The Bud...

So, Drudge does a mock-up of a dollar bill to highlight Obama's comments about McCain's criticism of him:

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Maybe it's just me, but doesn't that picture look more like '70s comic rhyming master and uber-game show celeb Nipsey Russell?

A colleague reminded me of a great Russell-ism that has stood the test of time:
"The opposite of pro is con;
That fact is clearly seen;
If progress means move forward,
Then what does Congress mean?"

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Manny Goes Hollywood

Not a bad week for Yankee fans: Bombers get Xavier Nady and reliever Damaso Marte from Pittsburgh for next-to-nothing. Pudge Rodriguez comes in as a more-than-adequate fill-in for Jorge Posada (bonus: Kyle Farnsworth leaves town in the bargain). And now, Manny Ramirez gets to take his tired act out West!

Manny gets to be Manny in Hollywood! Joe Torre should have much fun.

By the way, all those people who complain about the Yankees free-spending ways: please note that the Red Sox are paying all of Manny's remaining salary this season just to get rid of him! Once upon a time, the MLB commissioner would have blocked a trade that relied so much on cash exchanging hands. Not anymore.

P.S. Mets fans should be happy as well. Most reports today had Ramirez going to the Florida Marlins -- who are right behind the Mets in the National League East (and just knocked the Amazin's out of first place by taking two of three).

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Following Jesse's Advice

The New York Times takes note of the McCain campaign/GOP version of the Hillary Clinton "kitichen sink" strategy against Barack Obama.

Josh Marshall believes that there is a not-so-subtle racial implication by using Paris Hilton and Britney Spears in the "Celebrity" ad. He makes the comparison with the Harold Ford "Call Me" ad from 2006. Now, there may be something to that (though my erstwhile CNN colleague Jake Tapper isn't buying it). First, when connecting a black man with a white female, for whatever reason, making the woman blonde has a stronger impact. After all, the GOP could have also used darker-tressed Lindsay Lohan as an example of a female celebrity who has been "behaving badly." Indeed, Lohan has been more recently in the headlines than Paris has. Of course, using a shot of Hilton also creates a mental play on words with Obama's "visiting Paris" at the end of his European tour. Heh heh.

However, I think this celebrity ad goes beyond just raising the black man-white woman taboo in some voters minds. No, the ad subtly does what Jesse Jackson said he wanted to do to Obama. In a sense, this ad is designed to politically emasculate Obama. Jesse stated that he thought Obama had been "talking down to black folks." Republicans are, in a sense, saying that an arrogant Obama is talking down to all folks in seeming to make the race about him.

In using the classic political jiu-jitsu of using an opponent's greatest strength against him, Republicans want to suggest there is something discomforting about the public acclaim Obama is receiving. But, this argument could have been made with "hunky" male celebrities like, say, George Clooney. It could have been made with a controversial male celebrity like Tom Cruise. It could have been made with an annoying politically-active male celeb like Sean Penn. But, instead, it was made with female celebrities (who, yes, are also known for their sexual scandals). Aside from the black-white taboo mentioned above, this political attack makes Obama come across as a male bimbo...not simply an "empty suit" celebrity, but an effete, effeminate airhead who has no business getting involved in the political world. Simply put, this isn't really a "man." As Jesse suggested, the ad is designed to cut off Obama's nuts.

How effective would such an uber-message be?

We'll have to see. But, the Obama camp had better come up with a response more hefty than just saying the GOP is suggesting that he "doesn't look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills." Politics is a contact sport and Obama had better figure out how to respond in kind.

And, inevitably, when he does, it will only be a matter of time before this campaign gets boiled down to what we thought it would be about from early on: The cocky, oversexed presumptuous black guy vs. the psycho-crazy old (like, really old) war veteran.

UPDATE: Filling in for Andrew Sullivan, Daniel Larison's analysis of the to-and-fro on the "Celebrity" ad explains why a campaign waged by two "character-candidates" will end up being one of the ugliest in history.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Stand Up! On Second Thought -- STFU

With friends like Ludacris, does Barack Obama need any enemies. Right on time, Hillary's peeps chime in.

A more amusing take on Ludacris' theme was actually produced in this YouTube montage crafted around Jay-Z's "99 Problems":

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008


This Clearly Explains...

...why I've been "under the weather" lately:

Climate change is doing awful things to black folks.

Help me, Obi Wan AlGore! You're my only hope!

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Crooked Senator, Dumb Senator

The crooked one from Alaska -- now officially indicted.

The dumb one from Nevada -- explaining the U.S.'s "voluntary" tax system:

Just to clarify, the phrases "crooked" and "dumb" shouldn't be considered exclusive to specific senator attached to the specific adjective. Sen. Stevens (like many that run afoul of the law) can rightly be considered crooked AND dumb, just as Sen. Reid very could be as well (though no outside judicial or legal body has yet made such an official charge).

UPDATE: Should have paid closer attention to the fact that the Reid clip is actually a few months old. It was only just forwarded to me. So, it's still stupid -- just old, stupid (which, apropos of this post, could describe Ted Stevens).

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Obama Reality Check, Pt. 2

So, CNN had the latest edition of its special, Black in America. I suppose I should feel guilty, but, you know, I didn't watch i. For one thing, as mentioned below, I was traveling. For another, I just didn't think there was much to gain from watching it.

Raymond Leon Roker gives his views on what he did and didn't like. I, of course, wonder whether the show touched upon some of the issues Bill Cosby and, yes, Barack Obama, have raised with respect to personal responsibility and family cohesiveness. Or challenged teacher union dominance that prevents things like vouchers from being used in public school systems.

That aside, my trip to Santa Fe afforded me another one of those WWUC (White Wake-Up Calls) that seem to happen whenever I leave the safe environs of New York City. RT readers may remember some of the interesting comments that popped up when I was in Colorado in the spring.

So, Saturday night in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I had dinner with members of the St. John's alumni community in a Mexican restaurant (Maria's on Cordova; I recommend the margaritas). The conversation, not surprisingly, ended up revolving around the election. And, though lively and -- a wee bit loud -- it was indeed more of a "conversation" than any debate since I was hardly in full McCain defense mode. In any event, as the dinner concluded, I was one of three final participants to leave.

We ran into a couple of ladies sitting at a table outside of the private room where we had dined. The ladies were in their late-50s or early-60s. They were long-time friends (had been college roommates) and were self-described liberals from California (though one was married to a Republican). Apparently, one of my dining companions had returned from a bathroom break and explained to the ladies who we were and why there was so much uproarious laughter coming from our table (I admittedly had been telling some of my political stand-up jokes).

So, the women knew that I was a journalist. Almost out of nowhere, one asks me who I think is going to win the election. I said, "At this point, most likely Obama." She then says, "So do you think the blacks will riot if he doesn't win? I mean, since that's what they do when they don't get their way -- like in L.A. in '92."

I paused for a moment before responding. I then said, "Um, well, you really can look at '92 and, say, '68 after Martin Luther King died as examples of major riots among blacks." The other woman then chimed in, "And Watts in '65." I said, "OK, well let's say we've had three major urban uprisings [upon further reflection, one might add several more in the late '60s in other places], and contrast that with a few hundred years of slavery and Jim Crow . On balance.."

I added, "Furthermore, blacks are a whole lot more used to having white people as president than white people are used to having a black person as president. And more than a few remain skeptical as to wonder whether they'll ever see a black person elected president."

Anyway, keeping my cool and providing this answer, I then asked the woman who had broached the question, "Were you a Hillary supporter in the primaries?" She said, "No, I voted for Bill Clinton twice, but I decided that the two of them have become crooks and I can't trust them." I responded: "So you voted for Obama?" She nodded. Her friend did too.

I thought to myself. Hmmm....well, here we have two liberal white women -- both Obama supporters -- and they have no problem considering a reality where blacks will riot if Obama doesn't win, "because that's what they do if they don't get their way."

Oh, yeah, that racial Utopia is just around the corner.

Hands together and sing, "Kumbaya," people.


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Monday, July 28, 2008


Airing It Out

Another black eye for the airline industry. This time it is Delta whose Vegas-bound passengers were stuck in a plane for, um, a lengthy period. Quick word of advice to airline PR officials. This is probably not the best approach to damage control:
Passengers aboard a Las Vegas-bound Delta Air Lines jet reported waiting nearly seven hours before their flight was ultimately canceled after thundershowers delayed more than 130 flights at John F. Kennedy International Airport.


Delta Air Lines Inc. spokeswoman Betsy Talton said the Las Vegas-bound flight was delayed five hours. She conceded passengers may have included the time it took them to board and then disembark at the gate, which was not included in her calculations.

So, it was "only" five hours in airplane-delay, but seven hours in "real" time. This, of course, is the same reasoning that tells passengers that their flight leaves at XX hour, but if they're not on the plane by XX-30 minutes, the gate is closed and the passenger can't board.

But, hey -- five hours? seven hours? What's 120 minutes between friends?

Anyway, I bring this up because I would like to show the other side of these nightmare stories.

Your hardworking blogger had to fly out Friday to New Mexico to attend St. John's College board business. Responsibilities at the day job forced me to take a relatively late flight out to Albuquerque (where I rented a car and drove out to Santa Fe). Anyway, I did my dutiful day of meetings Saturday, went to dinner with a few other Johnnies and prepared for my Sunday flight back.

Well, I mistimed my drive back to Albuquerque Sunday morning and got to the airport about 25 minutes before my 9:35 AM departure. "Too late!" I was told at the check-in, so I was rebooked for a flight leaving in another hour. OK, not too bad -- especially considering that I had been facing a three-hour layover in Houston from my original flight.

Flight departs on time. I get to Houston about 1:30 Central time. Now my next flight is supposed to be at 3:55 (so I believe). I head to the gate and prep myself to hang out for a couple of hours. One hour into my wait, the info at the gate changes. My flight is now leaving at 5:10 PM. Okay, no prob. So it goes.

Then, for some reason, I look into the envelope that the ticket agent at Albuquerque had given me and found out that when she rebooked me, she took me off the 3:55 flight and put me on another one -- 2:15!! D'oh!! By this time, it's 2:45, half an hour after the flight I was supposed to be on has left. On top of that, I don't have a ticket for the 3:55 (now 5:10) flight I thought I was supposed to be on! Worse, the gate I'm waiting at has yet to be staffed, so I'm really starting to panic.

Anyway, a few minutes later, a gate attendant appears. She assists one person ahead of me. I then -- somewhat embarrassedly -- explain my situation. She pauses and says, "Oh, why don't you just get on Flight (whatever)?" I say, "Didn't that leave already?" "No, air traffic control has all flights to New York delayed. Hold on just a moment." She picks up the phone and says, "Hey, I'm over at 45. Have you guys finished boarding yet? Great. I'll send Mr. George over."

It was, fortunately, not a lengthy swift walk to the right gate (E-6). Our flight was in the air by 4 and landed at LaGuardia at 8:30 PM!

So, yes, many of the airlines get a lot of crap (some of it quite deserved). However, I want to give tips of the cap to the employees of Continental Airlines. Both the ticket agent in Albuquerque and, especially, the gate attendant in Houston (I wish I wasn't in such a hurry that I didn't get her name) both of whom were quick and professional in assisting me (even though it was my own errors that helped cause my predicament).

Good service does still pop up on occasion and should be celebrated when it does.

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