Wednesday, December 31, 2008

West Wing Obama Style

Much has been made of the strange similarity between the final season of West Wing and 2008. This is pretty cool and the logical culmination of the political year:

Monday, December 08, 2008

David Gregory: "Goofily Hollow"

Here's Mickey Kaus (Slate, on the David Gregory pick opines today.

I couldn't agree more. I've NEVER heard David Gregory say an original thing either, as I noted here a week ago. But Kaus probably knows him better than I do, so it's reassuring to have the back up.

The Right Man: "It brings out the kid in all of us," reports the N.Y. Daily News, quoting one Greg Packer, 44, of Huntington, L.I.:

"It's that sense of togetherness that keeps me coming back."

Packer, of course, is "the entire media's designated 'man on the street' for all articles ever written." The secret of his success, it's pretty clear, is that he always spouts the CW that mainstream newspaper editors want to hear (and think their readers want to read). ... Hmm. David Gregory has just been made moderator of Meet the Press. The secret of Gregory's success seems to be that he always spouts the CW that his mainstream producers want to hear (and think their viewers want to hear too).

Wouldn't Packer be better? I mean, he's got Gregory's unerring CW-spouting capacity, plus he's got Tim Russert-style blue collar street cred. He's a "highway maintenance worker," for Chrissakes! I think NBC missed a bet here. ...

P.S.: How bad a choice was Gregory? Let me put it this way: I've heard George Stephanopoulos say interesting things. I've heard Tom Brokaw say interesting things. I've heard Mort Kondracke say interesting things. I've heard David Broder say interesting things, and Norah O'Donnell and David Gergen and Gwen Ifill and even (once) Sam Donaldson. I heard Tim Russert say interesting things. I've never heard David Gregory say an interesting thing. He is a can't-miss discussion-killer--the Sunday morning equivalent of Senator Montoya. ... But that's an insult to Sen. Montoya. Montoya didn't actually drain the Watergate hearings of interest. He just gave everyone a chance to take a brief break. ... P.P.S.: Gregory seems not straightforwardly dull, but somehow goofily hollow. Hard to believe those people out "beyond the Potomac and beyond the Hudson River in New York City" won't pick up on this. ... [They say he's good on Imus--ed Imus won't be there.] ...[link via RS's feed]1:34 A.M.

NBC Makes Another Crazy Call

Idiotic move. If true that's two for two for week for NBC (actually 3 for 3 but third is a private infuriating matter).

Jay Leno is going to be on every week night at 10 pm, the New York Times reports.

He is not funny. And his "Jay Walking" in which stupidity and ignorance is held up as funny and admirable and showcases and makes stars of idiots is the worst thing on television. I said so 12 years ago, and it's even more true today. Thank you, Jay, for Sarah Palin.

Now I can retire when I should without being worried about missing Law & Order or ER.

More From Colbert's Christmas

This is a beautiful song and piercingly funny - against evangelists, Christians and Muslims, atheists too. Really original but most of all a lovely melody. With Elvis Costello. Enjoy "There Are Much Worse Things To Believe In"

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Irony (& Lesson) of The Best And The Brightest

Frank Rich is always good and even better here citing Halberstam (whose writing I love). Rich reminds us that "The Best and The Brightest" title ironically captured the narrative that unfolded - how Kennedy's bright advisers led us into Vietnam. It's a great book. And Rich does a service reminding us here in his column: The Brightest Are Not Always the Best.

And he's not so worried about Obama's security team, but rather the economic, reminding us that these guys pushed along bankign deregulation under Clinton. (They did the same in my field - telecommunications - I remember being incredulous and arguing a lot with my friends in the field).

He finishes with Rubin - and doesn't even mention the worse. But he says enough and in the end says that Rubin absence now may show Obama to be bright and wise.

Don't miss story of what Sam Rayburn said to Johnson. For history buffs, it's a great book.

Opening the White House

There was much of interest in this morning's Meet the Press interview with Obama, but the end excited me the most:  first Obama makes politics cool; next up poetry.   
 MR. BROKAW: And General Shinseki was right.
Let me ask you as we conclude this program this morning about whether you and Michelle have had any discussions about the impact that you're going to have on this country in other ways besides international and domestic policies. You're going to have a huge impact, culturally, in terms of the tone of the country.


MR. BROKAW: Who are the kinds of artists that you would like to bring to the White House?

PRES.-ELECT OBAMA: Oh, well, you know, we have thought about this because part of what we want to do is to open up the White House and, and remind people this is, this is the people's house. There is an incredible bully pulpit to be used when it comes to, for example, education. Yes, we're going to have an education policy. Yes, we're going to be putting more money into school construction. But, ultimately, we want to talk about parents reading to their kids. We want to invite kids from local schools into the White House. When it comes to science, elevating science once again, and having lectures in the White House where people are talking about traveling to the stars or breaking down atoms, inspiring our youth to get a sense of what discovery is all about. Thinking about the diversity of our culture and, and inviting jazz musicians and classical musicians and poetry readings in the White House so that, once again, we appreciate this incredible tapestry that's America. I--you know, that, I think, is, is going to be incredibly important, particularly because we're going through hard times. And, historically, what has always brought us through hard times is that national character, that sense of optimism, that willingness to look forward, that, that sense that better days are ahead. I think that our art and our culture, our science, you know, that's the essence of what makes America special, and, and we want to project that as much as possible in the White House.
 As he began that answer I thought to myself, but say why the arts are important, especially now.   And then he did.  (That happened a couple of times and more often than ever, what comes out of his mouth is exactly what I'm thinking and hoping will come out of his mouth). 

As someone who worked who started her professional career working for the Congressional Arts Caucus (and later for PBS), I strongly believe in the importance of arts - literature and music and theater in our cultural and civic life.   So hearing this so excited me.  Our new president is a writer, a good one. 

When I think of this, it all seems unbelievable to me! He is really going to be our President.  

The other aspect that excited me was his statement that the White House needs to be open.  I'm not sure what that means beyond what he stated above, but I hope it means more than that.

For those of us who have lived in DC for the last 20 years, so much has been barricaded off.   One used to be able to drive right by the White House - north or south of it.   Now, all is blocked.  Not only do the road closures wreck havoc in the community, the message these concrete walls send is horrible.  Obama seems to understand that - both the importance of the relationship to the immediate community of DC, and the message such a lock-down sends.  

Here's hoping he opens the White House not only to local students, but allows local traffic to go by without locals having to be reminded of nefarious threats.  

A Fresh Look at Van Gogh's Starry Starry Night

I spoke with my dear friend Claudette last night and she reminded me of this most amazing art video.  Basically, you enter Van Gogh's Starry Night, in 3-D.  She told me of showing it to her art students and a young boy, around 3rd grade, was so entranced he admonished another classmate - "Sit down!  I can't see Van Gogh!"

And the music is Don McLean.

Enjoy -

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Christopher Buckley Amuses Again, on Acela

Hilarious! The Nazi of the Quiet Car by Christopher Buckley.

I too have had these thoughts in the quiet car of the Acela between DC and NY but I never did any thing about the peace breakers.

And I didn't write 6 books while doing so or shh the FBI Director either.

On DC Statehood

I support DC statehood. Here's the official site that promotes voting rights for DC residents - DC Votes.

As noted here, DC is more populated than many states.

Matthew Yglesias proposes a federal city - outlined above - that is much smaller than DC now, with the only inhabitants being the First Family.

Either that or we should be exempt from federal tax, as Alex Massie proposes.
But what about a grand bargain? In return for not having a vote in Congress, how about abolishing the federal income tax for DC residents? I suspect there are many who'd be all in favour of that. And of course such a move would do more to repopulate the city - complete with the kind of urban density Matt's in favour of - and regenerate its schools and so on than just about anything else.
Andrew Sullivan supports Massie's idea, and adds, We could become Hong Kong on the Potomac.

James Joyner suggests a third option: Maryland reabsorbs DC. He argues that DC Statehood violates "serious principles," such as it's geographical too small (20x smaller than Rhode Island); that the tiny states in New England never should have been created (because they are too small); DC is not a "state-like" entity (whatever that means). None of these seem like principles to me.

He finishes with this flair:
So, what’s the rational argument for giving DC two Senators when twenty-six other cities and 49 of 50 states are bigger? There is none.
Well, yes there is - residents of DC are taxed by the federal government and have no voting representation in Congress.

Didn't we fight a revolution over taxation with no representation???

Alexandria, Virginia was originally to be part of DC, but Virginia took it back in 1847. That's where James Joyner now lives. Hmmmmm.

With this election, DC residents can finally hope - for some resolution to the injustice. Thank you Obama.

Bill Clinton - Again Trouble

This trouble is exactly what makes me nervous about Hillary as Secretary of State. Bill saying anything and then taking (in order to take?) money from international scoundrels and worse.

From Friday's New York Times, Bill Clinton Speech in Malaysia Irks Investors.

Mr. Clinton spoke before nearly 3,000 people in Kuala Lumpur at the invitation of Vinod Sekhar, a Malaysian businessman whose foundation paid Mr. Clinton $200,000, according to several people with knowledge of the fee. The figure is on the lower end of the scale that Mr. Clinton usually commands for his speeches.

“You should be proud of this man,” Mr. Clinton told the audience, pointing at Mr. Sekhar, the 40-year-old chief executive of the Petra Group, a privately held rubber technology company.

But several angry investors in Britain and Malaysia say they disagree with the former president’s glowing assessment of Mr. Sekhar, whose company has suffered a rough few weeks.

“I believe he is using Bill Clinton — this is what he does,” said Abdul Azim Zabidi, a former board member of the Petra Group who claims Mr. Sekhar broke numerous promises to him and still owes him $100,000. “He just wants to get new investors.”

Even if Bill wants to stop for the sake of his wife, even if Obama has shackles on him - the man has not evidence an abundance of personal discipline.

I remain uneasy.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Evidence of GOP M.O. - Negotiate with Foreign Enemies to Affect US Election

Obviously a GOP MO. From today's Washington Post, a report Tapes Show LBJ's Anger at Nixon Aides Over Vietnam Peace Talks.
In the final months of his administration, President Lyndon B. Johnson voiced worry over the Vietnam War peace talks and stridently suggested that associates of Richard M. Nixon were trying to keep South Vietnam away from the table until after the 1968 election, recordings of telephone conversations released Thursday show.

"This is treason," Johnson said, referring to people close to Nixon, during a conversation with Senate Republican leader Everett Dirksen. The Democratic president never accused the Republican who would succeed him of treason, but Johnson said, "If Nixon keeps the South Vietnamese away from the [peace] conference, well, that's going to be his responsibility."

Reagan did same, meddling in the Iran hostage crisis, committing treason to defeat Carter in 1980. I don't go in for conspiracy theories, but the October Surprise, as it's called, has some pretty convincing backing.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Nixon's Back

I still so clearly remember my mom explaining to me the Saturday night massacre.

Well, Nixon is back. The National Archives released tapes that were made in November and December 1972, right after Nixon won in a landslide. (That was the first presidential campaign I remember).

Nixon invented resentment politics, of which Palin is just the latest to embrace and the first since Nixon to actually not be pretending to have a reason to be resentful unlike both Bush 41 and 43 who pretended to be cowboys instead of the Ivy Leaguers they in fact were.

Lest you think Nixon is irrelevant today, here's Noam Scheiber at the New Republic on the resentments of Sarah Palin in a piece called Barracuda.
That hardly makes her the first politician to run on class resentments--nearly every conservative from George W. Bush to Mitt Romney has sought a bond with voters by attacking the over-educated and entitled. But more often than not these conservatives are elites themselves; hence the spectacle of Yale legacies and Harvard millionaires (and most of the Fox News executive suite) railing against wine-swilling sophisticates. Palin, by contrast, may be the first conservative politician since Nixon to experience resentment so authentically. For her, it's not so much a political tool as a motivating principle.
Here's Nixon on the Ivy League -
NIXON: "The Ivy League presidents? Why, I'll never let those sons-of-b------ in the White House again. Never, never, never. They're finished. The Ivy League schools are finished ... Henry, I would never have had them in. Don't do that again ... They came out against us when it was tough ... Don't ever go to an Ivy League school again, ever. Never, never, never."
Daily Beast has a write up here.

Here's Keith on the new tapes:

Just in time for the Nixon/Frost movie.

Designers Design for Michelle

And Women's Wear Daily offers a slide show.

Which ones do you like? (I like, in this order, the Koi Suwannagate #9, Peter Som #21 and #40; Tuleh #41 and the Chanel, #7.)

Interesting to me who is not included: Narciso Rodriguez, who also designed my favorite Obama t-shirt as well as Carolyn Bessette Kennedy's wedding dress, which put him on the map. New York Magazine describes his style as "Sexy, bold women's wear with a touch of Jackie O-whimsy."

Maybe he's doing the real deal and is being discrete, unlike the designer of a ring Obama is reported to be buying for Michelle to thank her for her support.

1977 Frost/Nixon Interview Again in 2008

A recent disappointment - not being well enough to catch the Tony Award winning play, Frost/Nixon, starring Stacy Keach at the Kennedy Center last month.

But Ron Howard (yes, Opie) directed and produced a movie based on the play, also called Frost/Nixon, that is soon to be released on December 26. He and the writer Peter Morgan (who wrote both the play and the screen play) speak for over 30 minutes on NPR, discussing the play, the challenges of adaptation to film and why Nixon still intrigues. You can listen here.

And the original Frost/Nixon interviews were just released on DVD, just in time for Christmas. Frost interviewed Nixon for 28 and 3/4 hours over 12 days in 1977.

David Frost made an appearance on The Daily Show. He relays how Nixon said, "I wouldn't want to be a Russian leader, they never know when they are being taped." Unbelievable.

Emma Thompson on the Energy of Hope

Oh, I'm looking forward to this.....

And read this write up about it from The Daily Beast.

Emma Thompson says this in the interview:
She continues: “Blokes can have various false starts and start over again.” She describes a male friend who at 52 is about to have his first child. “That is open to them and that makes a difference in your mental state. In you’re 30s [as a woman] you’re thinking, whatever relationship you get into, is that going to be the one, or what’s the point in having it? Men have much longer,” she says. “Women have to make these decisions earlier on.”

Thompson hopes the movie might suggest that there are abundant new possibilities for love and eroticism, particularly for women getting older. “I hope it widens the palette,” she says. “I’d like audiences to walk away and think, ‘Okay I think I’ll do that,’ whatever it is they’re thinking about that’s exciting. I want to give them the energy of hope.”
Film opens in the US on January 23rd (The first weekend after the inauguration).

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

10 Year Old Makes Pitch to Interview Obama

This is unbelievable. Worth the five minutes. Wexler, my favorite congressman does the introduction.

Also, Biden tells the crowd about the sleepovers his granddaughters had with the Obama girls. Biden's grandchildren go to Sidwell Friends and their closeness with the Obama kids was a factor for them to go there.

Anyway, this 10 year old from Palm Beach is just terrific and has a great smile. Be sure to watch to the end.

and then the young man makes a pitch to interview Obama.

I learned about this at the Huff Post where Jason Linkins writes THIS INTERVIEW MUST HAPPEN. I couldn't agree more. (Linkins has a good write up and offers great context - re Reggie Love, for example).

Monday, December 01, 2008

Has the Great Triangulator Been Triangulated?

Today, Chuck Todd, perceptively and wittily, asserted that he has. (It really is too bad his knowledge and insight was passed over for MTP).

Obama made Bill submit to 9 - count 'em 9 - conditions. This news was released on Saturday (perhaps to avoid overclouding the official announcement today).

The disclosure of contributors is among nine conditions that Mr. Clinton signed off on during discussions with representatives of Mr. Obama; all go beyond the requirements of law.

  1. disclose the more than 200,000 donors to his foundation publicly (not just to Obama's vetting team)/ So far, his foundation has raised over $500 million.
  2. incorporate his Clinton Global Initiative separately from his foundation
  3. hold only the Global Initiative's annual meetings in the USA
  4. no longer accept donations from foreign government (in the past these have included Kuwait, Qatar,
  5. submit personal speeches for review by ethics official of State Department (hmm, who report to his wife?) and, if necessary, the White House counsel's office (that would be Greg Craig). Clinton made over 10 million dollars last year giving speeches. He and she are married and share that wealth.
  6. business activities for review same as his speeches
  7. Clinton will not solicit sponsorships for the Initiative.
  8. 4 initiatives under the foundation will be allowed to continue as currently set up, with funding from governments of Britain, France, Norway and Sweden which address AIDS, climate change, development and sustainable growth.
I can't discern the 9th concession. I doubt it will be sufficient to keep him out of trouble.

And before any one sends him to India and Pakistan on a diplomatic mission, let's remember it was Richard Holbrooke who was the wizard negotiator of the Dayton accords.

Oh and true to his self-aggrandizing form, on the conclusion of Obama's press conference today, Bill Clinton release a statement - as if any one still cares what he thinks. It was relayed with rolled eyes.

MTP Host Announced. I Will No Longer Watch

This is the most unfortunate news. Of all the people being considered he is the absolute worst.

I heard him speak on the Diane Rehm show, and in other venues - and was horrified at how dismissive he was of a caller's views. He is arrogant, defensive, unoriginal in thought. He has been an apologist for Bush as well, and is one of the ones most responsible for not effectively challenging Bush when he was in the White House press corp. And I sometimes watch his program at 6 on MSNBC (a poor substitute for the Tucker Carlson show he replaced).

The biggest problem: he doesn't know his facts so he misses the piercing follow up.

Well, he is tall.

Almost any of the others would I have been better. I'd have preferred Chuck Todd or Gwen Ifill or Ted Koppel or Andrea Mitchell.

I still do watch Morning Joe, though am increasingly disappointed when I have to listen to them quarrel over falsehoods (there was a funny moment when Andrea had to point out to them they were both wrong). Lawrence O'Donnell is good at injecting reality checks. But even when they don't go off the reservation of planet earth, I can barely stand to listen to Mika's equivocating and giggling. Admittedly, I may be bias because I knew her and her rambunctious brothers in college.

But increasingly I'm becoming disappointed with MSNBC. No, I'm not a fan of Rachel Maddow either; I don't find her very intelligent or original either. Her thinking is predictable and therefore un-challenging and uninteresting.

MSNBC didn't even provide coverage of Mumbai this weekend.

Shameful all around.

Hope For Short People

So much for diversity in his cabinet. 4 of 6 were of small physical stature, if not otherwise. Huffington Post calls this Petite Power, and I noticed it too. Clinton, Rice, Gates and Napolitano

I noticed this too, but at least Hillary (who was first to the podium after Obama) had the experience to tilt the mikes down toward her mouth so that the from the camera view you could see her eyes and nose.

Beware of Boobs

At least in Uganda. For details, click here. What will thieves think of next? There does seem to be some justice in this.

What's Going On With Some Conservatives???

Pretty disgusting comparing Obama to Hitler, as noted in my post earlier.

Maybe it is in Republican DNA, as this opinion writer opined yesterday in the Los Angeles Times (hat tip: TPM)
But there is another rendition of the story of modern conservatism, one that doesn't begin with Goldwater and doesn't celebrate his libertarian orientation. It is a less heroic story, and one that may go a much longer way toward really explaining the Republican Party's past electoral fortunes and its future. In this tale, the real father of modern Republicanism is Sen. Joe McCarthy, and the line doesn't run from Goldwater to Reagan to George W. Bush; it runs from McCarthy to Nixon to Bush and possibly now to Sarah Palin. It centralizes what one might call the McCarthy gene, something deep in the DNA of the Republican Party that determines how Republicans run for office, and because it is genetic, it isn't likely to be expunged any time soon.
I found that very interesting. And the whole piece deserves a full read.

This country needs a healthy - and by that I mean real, realist, intelligently rigorous opposition. More Ross (see particularly this and this Bill Moyers program from July in a discussion about conservatives and their future) and Andrew Sullivan than Sarah. She represents a sickness or as Noonan suggest media mischief.

I wish it were just media mischief. I don't think she or her follows or the wackos on radio are so easily dismissed or ignored.

Obama Introduces His Team and Outlines Vision

You can read his full remarks, as well as the remarks of the appointees, and the questions and answers here. But I offer some highlights to illustrate why he's outstanding.

Also, he actually answered the questions asked and when he didn't he said so, and said why. Last week Obama said that his hope for Thanksgiving next year is that the American people would feel they could trust the government. Answering questions is a good way to start rebuilding that trust. And he said a lot of good things in the questions and answer period, you can see for yourself at the link above.
The common thread linking these challenges is the fundamental reality that in the 21st century, our destiny is shared with the world’s. From our markets to our security; from our public health to our climate –we must act with the understanding that, now more than ever, we have a stake in what happens across the globe. And as we learned so painfully on 9/11, terror cannot be contained by borders, nor safety provided by oceans alone.


And so, in this uncertain world, the time has come for a new beginning – a new dawn of American leadership to overcome the challenges of the 21st century, and to seize the opportunities embedded in those challenges. We will strengthen our capacity to defeat our enemies and support our friends. We will renew old alliances and forge new and enduring partnerships. We will show the world once more that America is relentless in defense of our people, steady in advancing our interests, and committed to the ideals that shine as a beacon to the world: democracy and justice; opportunity and unyielding hope – because American values are America’s greatest export to the world.

To succeed, we must pursue a new strategy that skillfully uses, balances, and integrates all elements of American power: our military and diplomacy; our intelligence and law enforcement; our economy and the power of our moral example.
This is how Obama concluded his opening remarks:

We move forward with the humility that comes with knowing that there are brave men and women protecting us on our frontlines, diplomats and intelligence officers in dangerous corners of the world, troops serving their second, third, or fourth tours, FBI agents in the field, cops on the beat, prosecutors in our courts, and cargo inspectors at our ports.

These selfless Americans whose name are unknown to most of us, will form the backbone of our effort. If we serve as well as they are serving, we will protect our country and promote our values.

And as we move forward with respect for American's tradition of a bipartisan national security policy and a commitment to national unity, we have to recall that when it comes to keeping our nation and our people safe, we are not Republicans or Democrats. We are Americans. There's no monopoly of power of wisdom in either party.

Together, as one nation, as one people, we can shape our times instead of being shaped by them. Together, we will meet the challenges of the 21st century not with fear but with hope.

I also liked what Eric Holder had to say, on two fronts -
The Department of Justice plays a unique role on this team. It is incumbent those of us who lead the department to ensure not only that the nation is safe but also that our laws and traditions are respected. There is not a tension between those two. We can and we must ensure that the American people remain secure and that the great constitutional guarantees that define us as a nation are truly valued.
that would be a reference to the terror legal memos.

And then he said this
National security concerns are not defined only by the challenges created by terrorists abroad but also by criminals in our midst, whether they be criminals located on the street or in a board room.
I felt good after watching this today

Obama's Vision for US Security and World Affairs

This tip off posted this morning at The New York Times bodes well and provided, for me, some cohesion and explanation for Obama's selections for his national security team.
Yet all three of his choices — Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton as the rival turned secretary of state; Gen. James L. Jones, the former NATO commander, as national security adviser, and Robert M. Gates, the current and future defense secretary — have embraced a sweeping shift of priorities and resources in the national security arena. The shift would create a greatly expanded corps of diplomats and aid workers that, in the vision of the incoming Obama administration, would be engaged in projects around the world aimed at preventing conflicts and rebuilding failed states. However, it is unclear whether the financing would be shifted from the Pentagon; Mr. Obama has also committed to increasing the number of American combat troops. Whether they can make the change — one that Mr. Obama started talking about in the summer of 2007, when his candidacy was a long shot at best — “will be the great foreign policy experiment of the Obama presidency,” one of his senior advisers said recently.
And he's prepared for Limbaugh:
Mr. Obama’s advisers said they were already bracing themselves for the charge from the right that he is investing in social work, even though President Bush repeatedly promised such a shift, starting in a series of speeches in late 2005.
And note this:
Several times during his presidency, Mr. Bush promised to alter that strategy, even creating a “civilian reserve corps” of nation-builders under State Department auspices, but the administration never committed serious funds or personnel to the effort. If Mr. Obama and his team can bring about that kind of shift, it could mark one of the most significant changes in national security strategy in decades and greatly enhance the powers of Mrs. Clinton as secretary of state.
Now - earlier this month, about a week after the election, a Republican Georgia Congressman compared Obama to Hitler because of this policy directive, which Obama had clearly stated during the campaign (never mind that Gates and Bush himself were suggesting the very same thing):

WASHINGTON — A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship.

"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may _ may not, I hope not _ but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."

Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.

"That's exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it's exactly what the Soviet Union did," Broun said. "When he's proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that is as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."

Obama's comments about a national security force came during a speech in Colorado in which he called for expanding the nation's foreign service.

Let's hope tomorrow Georgia does the right thing and does not re-elect that draft dodging, chicken hawk Senator Chambliss.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

NPR Journalists Nearly Killed in Baghdad Assassination Plot


The Thorn Birds

I was watching Thornbirds over the weekend. Lifetime broadcasted the 1983 mini-series I suppose because of the release of Australia over the holiday weekend.

I loved the drama when it came out. I was 17, and my sisters and I came to know the romantic story by heart. I had practically memorized dialogue.

I started to watch on television, then I realized I owned the DVDs and didn't have to sit through the commercials. And there was the documentary I'd been made aware of by IMDB, done in 2003 with Rachel Ward (who still looks gorgeous), Bryan Brown and Richard Chamberlain (who admitted in a memoir the pain of hiding his homosexuality for decades).

Well, then after more internet clicking around I came across this terrific, rather scathing, review of the book in the British paper, The Guardian, by Germaine Greer, called Old Flames. Great thought provoking words, though!

"Old Flames" indeed. And that melody. I stayed until 1:30 last night watching part one. What a performance by Barbara Stanwyck. And I loved the plot.

Those British Men, hmmmmm......

I've always had an affinity for British men, but this was not among the reasons why.  I love British history and the BBC.   Not much of a jump then to appreciate the wit and intelligence and strength of British men.  And they come up with all these interesting euphemisms for sex and hooking up - snogging, rogering, bagging off, making the beast with two backs (that later is from Othello).   

Why do I think this headline funny?   It seems somehow counter-intuitive to learn that Britain is the most promiscuous of industrialized nations.  They can talk and write about it fine (sorry Updike) but to in fact be described as such beggars belief.   (Brits awarded that prize to Updike, figures)
BRITISH men and women are now the most promiscuous of any big western industrial nation, researchers have found. In an international index measuring one-night stands, total numbers of partners and attitudes to casual sex, Britain comes out ahead of Australia, the US, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Germany. 
The researches chalk it up mostly to British women loosening up.  Hmmmm.   


Get a load of this play, Hillary: A Modern Greek Tragedy With a (Somewhat) Happy Ending At times like these I wish I lived there (another time is the day I get the brochure for ABT's spring season, which was yesterday).

Here's the hook:
Ms. Weiner focuses on Mrs. Clinton as both a heroic and a tragic figure. In this telling Hillary (Mia Barron), when she is still a girl dreaming of an adulthood in which a woman might pursue the presidency, pledges her devotion to Athena. Aphrodite, jealous, makes it her business to thwart Hillary, her principal weapon being the slick, charming Bill Clinton (Darren Pettie).
And this closes the deal:
Bill’s testimony before Kenneth W. Starr’s panel, complete with McDonald’s French fries, is a hilarious dismantling of Mr. Clinton’s real-life explanations.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

On November 29th

Poetry expresses the inexpressible. So, In honor of the anniversary of my mother's death, two years ago today -

Ash Wednesday
T.S. Eliot

Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is
nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessèd face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Lady, three white leopards sat under a juniper-tree
In the cool of the day, having fed to sateity
On my legs my heart my liver and that which had been
In the hollow round of my skull. And God said
Shall these bones live? shall these
Bones live? And that which had been contained
In the bones (which were already dry) said chirping:
Because of the goodness of this Lady
And because of her loveliness, and because
She honours the Virgin in meditation,
We shine with brightness. And I who am here dissembled
Proffer my deeds to oblivion, and my love
To the posterity of the desert and the fruit of the gourd.
It is this which recovers
My guts the strings of my eyes and the indigestible portions
Which the leopards reject. The Lady is withdrawn
In a white gown, to contemplation, in a white gown.
Let the whiteness of bones atone to forgetfulness.
There is no life in them. As I am forgotten
And would be forgotten, so I would forget
Thus devoted, concentrated in purpose. And God said
Prophesy to the wind, to the wind only for only
The wind will listen. And the bones sang chirping
With the burden of the grasshopper, saying

Lady of silences
Calm and distressed
Torn and most whole
Rose of memory
Rose of forgetfulness
Exhausted and life-giving
Worried reposeful
The single Rose
Is now the Garden
Where all loves end
Terminate torment
Of love unsatisfied
The greater torment
Of love satisfied
End of the endless
Journey to no end
Conclusion of all that
Is inconclusible
Speech without word and
Word of no speech
Grace to the Mother
For the Garden
Where all love ends.

Under a juniper-tree the bones sang, scattered and shining
We are glad to be scattered, we did little good to each other,
Under a tree in the cool of day, with the blessing of sand,
Forgetting themselves and each other, united
In the quiet of the desert. This is the land which ye
Shall divide by lot. And neither division nor unity
Matters. This is the land. We have our inheritance.


At the first turning of the second stair
I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitul face of hope and of despair.

At the second turning of the second stair
I left them twisting, turning below;
There were no more faces and the stair was dark,
Damp, jaggèd, like an old man's mouth drivelling, beyond
Or the toothed gullet of an agèd shark.

At the first turning of the third stair
Was a slotted window bellied like the figs's fruit
And beyond the hawthorn blossom and a pasture scene
The broadbacked figure drest in blue and green
Enchanted the maytime with an antique flute.
Blown hair is sweet, brown hair over the mouth blown,
Lilac and brown hair;
Distraction, music of the flute, stops and steps of the mind
over the third stair,
Fading, fading; strength beyond hope and despair
Climbing the third stair.

Lord, I am not worthy
Lord, I am not worthy

but speak the word only.

Who walked between the violet and the violet
Whe walked between
The various ranks of varied green
Going in white and blue, in Mary's colour,
Talking of trivial things
In ignorance and knowledge of eternal dolour
Who moved among the others as they walked,
Who then made strong the fountains and made fresh the

Made cool the dry rock and made firm the sand
In blue of larkspur, blue of Mary's colour,
Sovegna vos

Here are the years that walk between, bearing
Away the fiddles and the flutes, restoring
One who moves in the time between sleep and waking,

White light folded, sheathing about her, folded.
The new years walk, restoring
Through a bright cloud of tears, the years, restoring
With a new verse the ancient rhyme. Redeem
The time. Redeem
The unread vision in the higher dream
While jewelled unicorns draw by the gilded hearse.

The silent sister veiled in white and blue
Between the yews, behind the garden god,
Whose flute is breathless, bent her head and signed but
spoke no word

But the fountain sprang up and the bird sang down
Redeem the time, redeem the dream
The token of the word unheard, unspoken

Till the wind shake a thousand whispers from the yew

And after this our exile

If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,
For those who walk in darkness
Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny
the voice

Will the veiled sister pray for
Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose
Those who are torn on the horn between season and season,
time and time, between
Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who
In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray
For children at the gate
Who will not go away and cannot pray:
Pray for those who chose and oppose

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

Will the veiled sister between the slender
Yew trees pray for those who offend her
And are terrified and cannot surrender
And affirm before the world and deny between the rocks
In the last desert before the last blue rocks
The desert in the garden the garden in the desert
Of drouth, spitting from the mouth the withered apple-seed.

O my people.

Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth

This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross
Between blue rocks
But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away
Let the other yew be shaken and reply.

Blessèd sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Really? Hillary?

I've been very uneasy about Senator Clinton taking the post of Secretary of State. Any regular readers of this blog know from the beginning of my antipathy toward the Clinton

Todd Purnam's reporting in Vanity Fair, The Comeback Id, about Clinton's work since leaving the White House raises very serious questions and concerns. None of Clinton's perfidy and selling of access is not surprising (remember this is the guy that renting out the Lincoln bedroom). The idea of having that man any where near power makes it horrifying. I still expect some corrupt disaster to spill forth, after she is installed as Secretary of State.

And there is not much I disagree with that Christopher Hitchens writes here (though he is wrong about God). He notes its apt that Kissinger was so quick to endorse her - not because of his role in Nixon's administration but because his conflicts of interest prevented him from serving as a chair of the 9/11 Commission.
Both President and Sen. Clinton, while in office, made it obvious to foreign powers that they and their relatives were wide open to suggestions from lobbyists and middlemen.
And this:
In matters of foreign policy, it has been proved time and again, the Clintons are devoted to no interest other than their own.
Check it out fully - he has facts to back these assertions up.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Stephen Colbert's Christmas Special is Hillarious

Stephen Colbert's Christmas Special had be crying I was laughing so hard. Maybe you have to be old enough to remember the sort of Christmas specials he is mocking (I am). He announces the special guest by name - so hokey, so what Bing et. al. used to do!

But there other great mocking going on too. It was really funny and should become a classic up there with the Grinch, Charlie and Rudolph.

Here's one funny bit:

Unfortunately, the funniest song was sung by Fiest (whom I'd never heard of, but whatever) as an angel putting a prayer request on hold a la any customer service line. It was hilarious and brillant.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What the Hoover/FDR Transition Can Teach Us

Dan Balz fascinates with this review of the history not just of FDR's New Deal but also of the transition between Hoover and Roosevelt (which was longer since at that time the new president didn't take office until March).

Roosevelt is remembered best for the flurry of action that marked his first 100 days in office, but what transpired between his election and inauguration was equally fateful. How the next president-elect interprets that history could have a profound effect on his entire presidency.

In the fall of 1932, the country was beginning to experience faint signs of recovery. But the election and the transition seemed to stop it in its tracks. Herbert Hoover lacked the standing to rally the country. Roosevelt wanted no part of his predecessor's legacy and stood apart. From November to March, when Roosevelt was finally sworn in, the country entered a period of drift and demoralization. By the time Roosevelt took office, he faced a full-blown crisis.

Whether things would have been different by Inauguration Day and beyond had Roosevelt cooperated with Hoover is not knowable. But Obama or McCain will be faced with a similar decision about how to approach the transition.


Our President Belongs in Jail

Nothing saddens or horrifies me more than the fact that the US has engaged in torture.

And now from the Washington Post, front page, CIA Tactics Endorsed in Secret Memos.


The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 that explicitly endorsed the agency's use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding against al-Qaeda suspects -- documents prompted by worries among intelligence officials about a possible backlash if details of the program became public.

The classified memos, which have not been previously disclosed, were requested by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet more than a year after the start of the secret interrogations, according to four administration and intelligence officials familiar with the documents. Although Justice Department lawyers, beginning in 2002, had signed off on the agency's interrogation methods, senior CIA officials were troubled that White House policymakers had never endorsed the program in writing.

What will happen after the election?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

First Weekly Video Message

This is so very cool.   The first one.  I hope subsequent ones are a little looser. 

Sarah Palin "One Step Away From Stealing" from McCain Campaign

Wow - here's Evan Thomas and Katie Connolly speaking of how the information about Sarah Palin trickled out:

Conservatives Gear Up For Judicial Fights

I find this disheartening - a group of conservatives are already gearing up to object to Obama's judicial appointments.
Key groups have already amassed $1 million for the cause and plan a concerted fund-raising drive during Mr. Obama’s first months in office. The effort will focus on outreach to members of Congress as well as a public education campaign that is likely to include paid advertising and a grassroots component.

Wendy Long, counsel at the right-leaning Judicial Confirmation Network, distributed a memo this week to groups that plan to be active in the push in which she suggested that post-election polling showed that most Americans favor judicial restraint. And that’s where the conservatives see an opening. The memo also provided a glimpse of the pressure the coalition intends to place on lawmakers.
I am hopeful that Constitutional Law Professor/President-Elect Obama will be up to the job of nominating his nominees in a way that garners broad support. Read his book!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Abigail Adams' Birthday

Today is Abigail Adam's birthday.   The Writer's Almanac today provided some quotes:
"I've always felt that a person's intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting points of view he can entertain simultaneously on the same topic."
I begin to think, that a calm is not desirable in any situation in life.  Every object in beautiful in motion; a ship under sail, trees gentely agitated with the wind, and a fine woman dancing, are three instances in point.  Man was made for action and for bustle.
The first evoked our President-Elect.   The second really resonated and could feel more true after this week of immobility.  

Poetry in Honor of Veteran's Day

In honor of Veteran's Day today - November 11th - the anniversary of the end of World War I (1918), I post two of my favorite poets from that era - Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sasson, whom I came to know through Pat Barker's terrific triology - Regeneration, The Eye in the Door, and The Ghost Road

Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, -
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drowing-down of blinds.

Dreamers by Siegfried Sassoon

Soldiers are citizens of death's grey land,
Drawing no dividend from time's to-morrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win
Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
They think of firelit homes, clean beds and wives.
I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,
And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
And mocked by hopeless longing to regain
Bank-holidays, and pictures shows, and spats,
And going to the office in the train. 

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Cornel West Was Not Always an Obama Fan

Cornel West's appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher last night, and remarked on the campaign and on Obama.
Where the economics of greed, the culture of indifference and the politics of fear have been brought together in such a way that it hides and conceals the plight of poor people and working people. Look what they said about Martin Luther King, Jr. He was "communist." They'd probably say Jesus - Jesus loved the poor - "communist." Amos loved the poor. "Communist." So, in that sense, it's an exciting thing to behold. But, we're in a transitional moment. The real question is, can we generate a commitment to fairness and justice in the face of greed? Can we generate compassion in the face of indifference? And can we generate hope in the face of fear? And that's what Brother Barack is all about. – Cornel West

I found this intriguing because Prof. West was not always a fan of Obama's.   I recalled this piece from February 12th, 2008, which The New York Times printed Seeking Unity, Obama Feels Pull of Racial Divide  (note that this predates Obama's speech on race, which was in March)
Mr. Obama was sharply criticized by African-American academics, media celebrities and policy experts at a conference in Hampton, Va. Among the most often cited was Cornel West, the renowned Princeton scholar. He and others argued that Mr. Obama should speak forcefully about the legacy of racism in the nation and not cast the problems that disproportionately affect blacks as social ills shared by many Americans. “He’s got large numbers of white brothers and sisters who have fears and anxieties,” Dr. West said at the time. “He’s got to speak them in such a way that he holds us at arm’s length; enough to say he loves us, but not too close to scare them away.” 
Mr. Obama was so annoyed by the complaints, one aide recalled, that he asked staff members to invite more than 50 influential African-Americans, including some of his critics, to meet with him, hoping to win them over with the gale force of his charisma.
But his aides cautioned that such a large event would be sure to draw press attention. Instead, they suggested that Mr. Obama establish a smaller advisory council of prominent black figures. In a two-hour telephone call, he not only persuaded Dr. West to serve on the panel, but also convinced him that his rhetorical tightrope — reassuring whites without seeming to abandon blacks — was necessary.
Dr. West recalled the conversation, saying that if Mr. Obama focused on disparities caused by a history of white privilege, “he’d be pegged as a candidate who caters only to the needs of black folks.”
“His campaign is about all folks,” Dr. West said.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Portraits of Obama From His Past

This piece covers new territory for me, and I've read a lot about Obama. I really recommend the whole piece in the British paper, The Guardian, called Obama As We Knew Him...Man and Boy.

Some highlights:
  • Barry was the only one in the class who had bread in his lunch box - the rest of us had traditional Indonesian snacks. There's one called kepan - sticky rice and desiccated coconut which you have to dip in this very strong chilli sauce. It's hot even for us. But Barry was very curious. He tried it and burnt his mouth, and he was saying: 'It's hot, it's hot.' You can see he was always open to learning something new.
  • We'd sit on the sidestep of the library, where a radio would be playing Marvin Gaye and the Eagles, and have these great conversations about life. I recorded one for an English assignment. Rik asked what we thought 'time' was, and Barry replied: 'Time is just a collection of human experiences combined so that they make a long, flowing stream of thought.' He was 14 then, Rik was 16, I was 17, and Barry was definitely matching us.
  • I studied in a creative writing class with him. I remember him submitting a poem called 'Pop' (since published in the New Yorker). It was a penetrating portrait of his grandfather, in which his grandfather asked him what he was going to do with his life.
  • It's like Shakespeare's line: 'Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.' He was the guy who achieved greatness and it clearly took a lot of hard work to do that.
  • To take a break, we went to the coast. Coming back (from Mombasa to Nairobi) we travelled by bus. The driver was going so fast and I was so, so scared. Barack took it all in his stride. I, the Kenyan who should have been used to it, was furious at the driver. But Barack was just like: 'OK, this is the adventure that it is.' He came with this big baggage of tolerance and relaxedness and the ability to just absorb.
  • One of his preoccupations was being a novelist and he had taken the journalism job to facilitate that. He wrote a number of short stories about his experiences, other people's lives and their struggles. I read a couple and I thought they were pretty good. He's a wonderful writer by non-professional standards, but he knew he wasn't up with his heroes.
  • He was resilient and good at turning things around. Always, when things were going badly, Barack would stay up most of the night, trying to figure things out. And by the next day he'd be meeting people and we'd be trying an alternative strategy.
  • The fact that he wants to work for the community, that was his mum. The people's person side of him, that was his mum. Ann and Barry have 'fire', but in the case of Ann, it was tempered by her earthy, motherly nature, whereas with Barry, he's more 'air' and expresses his passion more through his intellect.
  • He had a combination of intellectual acumen, open-mindedness, resistance to stereotypical thinking and conventional presuppositions. He also had a willingness to change his mind when new evidence appeared, confidence in his own moral compass and a maturity that obviously came from some combination of his upbringing and earlier experience.
  • He had a charismatic quality and was very engaging. Other students gravitated towards him and liked him rather than envying him or wanting to compete with him.
  • He had a personal quality which was transcendent and I continued to feel that way about him each time we met. And the quality he demonstrated that I've always been left with more than any other is authenticity. There isn't a fibre of phoniness about this guy.
  • There was another player, Larry Walsh, a relatively conservative Democrat. Barack trumped his four of a kind with a higher four of a kind to take the pot and Walsh threw his cards down. 'Doggone it, Barack,' he said. 'If you were more liberal in your card playing and more conservative in your politics, we'd get along much better.'
  • As Republicans controlled the House it was a monumental task to get legislation passed. Barack could forge relations with others very well. He was very even-keeled, even when bullied on the Senate floor. It frustrated him, but he always kept his cool. His demeanour was: 'I'm going to explain this, I'm not going to get into a fist fight about this.'
  • Like all inquisitive, curious and interesting politicians, he is someone who can scan the horizons of many different issues and can find politics in cultural situations - the sadness of death, the experience of living in a developing country and what that means, or economic hardship in rural middle America. He is someone who has a strong emotional intelligence as well as a strong cognitive intelligence.

Don Draper's Guide to Picking Up Women

For me, this was the funniest segment on Saturday Night Live this weekend: 

And you can now buy a t-shirt too!. 

Friday, October 24, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Palin's Russian Fans Write Her a Love Song

This is hilarious - "I want to fly into your airspace"  The mispellings are cute.  The wonderful thing about the internet is how small it makes the world.   It's wonderful piece of fun.  Check it out (they look like pasty Brits! and are just about as funny).

Opie Endorses Obama (along with the Fonz and Sheriff Andy Taylor)

It's how far in the memory the gestures and inflections of these beloved characters are - Ron Howard as Opie and then Cunningham. The Fonz talking about Palin is priceless.  

Check it out: 

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Monday, October 20, 2008

Best Electoral College Analysis Out There

I just spent 3 hours looking for this web site. Shame on me for not bookmarking it, or posting this when I found it in September. IT IS GREAT.

Check it out: 3BlueDudes.

It's basically a summary of all the news sites' analysis of the electoral college. The page is very helpful to get a sense of where things stand in the Electoral College.

As of today - the average shows Obama at 313 and McCain at 166 and 59 electoral votes in toss up.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Lines from William Blake's Auguries of Innocence really resonate:

It opens:
TO see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

And concludes:

Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born, 120
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night.
We are led to believe a lie 125
When we see not thro’ the eye,
Which was born in a night to perish in a night,
When the soul slept in beams of light.
God appears, and God is light,
To those poor souls who dwell in night; 130
But does a human form display
To those who dwell in realms of day.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ryan Lizza on Joe Biden

In this week's New Yorker Ryan Lizza profiles Biden breifly.

Of interest to me were these excerpts -
not long after Biden ended his own Presidential campaign, Obama approached him to ask for his support in the remaining primaries. Biden is close to Bill and Hillary Clinton (she once told him, “I think you and Bill were separated at birth”), and he said that he would stay neutral until the nomination was settled. “If you win, I’ll do anything you ask me to do,” Biden told Obama. Obama replied, “Be careful, because I may ask you a lot.” They had another conversation in February, and Obama continued to cajole him. “The only question I have is not whether I want you in this Administration,” Obama told Biden. “It’s which job you’d like best.”During the primaries, which continued until June, Obama and Biden spoke about twice a week. “He’d call not so much to ask for advice as to bounce things off me,”
I like this, which demonstrates Obama's interest in pragmatism and how to get things done:
The conversation in Minneapolis ranged from foreign policy and possible appointments to the federal courts to the legislative strategy that would be needed to pass an Obama agenda. Obama wanted to know how Biden had managed his signature achievements—such as the 1994 crime bill, which added a hundred thousand federally funded police officers to city streets.
And then this (emphasis mine)
he official story behind Obama’s Vice-Presidential choice is that Obama was won over by Biden’s ability to get support from Republicans in the Senate. In Biden’s telling, Obama liked his sense of empathy, a trait that Obama shares, to judge by the finely sketched characters in “Dreams from My Father,” his 1995 memoir. Biden told me that Senator Mike Mansfield, of Montana—who persuaded him to stay in the Senate in 1973, when he was distraught over the deaths of his wife and child—taught him that, no matter how reprehensible another senator’s views, his job was to figure out what was good in that person, what voters back home saw in him. It may be a sentimental view of how senators treated each other in an earlier age, but Biden suggested to me that when he repeated that to Obama it helped to bring them closer—and he said that he and Obama would bring that approach to Washington.
And the reason Biden is long beloved by me:
As a longtime chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Biden was at the center of many of the hard-fought debates of the culture wars, and many conservatives still resent him for leading the fight against Robert Bork, Ronald Reagan’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Bork, a strict constructionist, expressed his views freely, and Biden had little trouble using Bork’s past opinions to embarrass him.
This is also helpful:
By 2002, Biden’s brand of liberal interventionism was the consensus view among foreign-policy élites in the Democratic Party. During the 2002 Senate debate over the Iraq-war resolution, Biden occupied the political space between Bush Administration unilateralists and antiwar Democrats. He pressed for a resolution that would have allowed the President to use force only to disarm Iraq. (In the end, Biden’s proposal was undermined by Democrats who supported Bush’s version of the war resolution.)
Biden's Brief can be read in full here.

Why I Love Dancing With the Stars

Here is just one reason.  Last night's show featured the seven Vivancos brothers from Spain:  

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Howard Wolfson Declares Race Over

Wolfson writes:
Perpetually fretting Democrats will not want to accept it. The campaigns themselves can't afford to believe it. Many journalists know it but can't say it. And there will certainly be some twists and turns along the way. But take it to a well capitalized bank: Bill Ayers isn't going to save John McCain. The race is over.
He says Bill Ayers attacks won't work (I'm not so sure). Wolfson calls such attacks smallball. And concludes with the big picture:

Just as President Bush's failures in Iraq undermined his party's historic advantage on national security issues, the financial calamity has shown the ruinous implications of the Republican mania for deregulation and slavish devotion to totally unfettered markets.

Republicans and Democrats have been arguing over the proper role of government for a century. In 1980 voters sided with Ronald Reagan and Republicans that government had become too big and intrusive. Then the economy worked in the Republicans' favor. Today the pendulum has swung in our direction. Republican philosophies have been discredited by events. Voters understand this. This is a big election about big issues. McCain's smallball will not work. This race will not be decided by lipsticked pigs. And John McCain can not escape that reality. The only unknowns are the size of the margin and the breadth of the Democratic advantage in the next Congress.

We shall see. I'm not as confident.

Sarah Palin Debate Flow Chart

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Spots of Time

"One of my fascinations about my own life is that every now and then I see a thing that unravels as if an artist had made it. It has a beautiful design and shape and rhythm. I don't go as far as some of my friends, who think that their whole life has been one great design. When I look back on my life I don't see it as a design to an end. What I do see is that in my life there have been a fair number of moments which appear almost as if an artist had made them. Wordsworth, who affected me a great deal, had this theory about what he calls 'spots of time' that seem almost divinely shaped,"

Sunday, August 31, 2008

CNN's Fun Factoids

Shortest convention - 6 hours in Baltimore in 1872

Longest convention - 17 days in 1924

Youngest nominee - William Jennings Bryan was 36 when nominated in 1896

First African American to get delegate vote - Frederick Douglass got 1 vote in 1888.

First Democratic convention - 1832 nominated Andrew Jackson for his second term

City with most conventions - Chicago, 25 in all.