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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Taking a long break

So I watched the season finale of Entourage tonight and at the end they announced that the show will return in the summer. The summer! That's at least 7 months. Why on earth would a show need that long for their hiatus? Regular network shows that end in May and start in September take a max of 3 1/2 months off. SEVEN months. It just seems absurd. What are they doing during all that time?

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Feeling my age

I went to the doctor last week, for my semi-annual checkup (I see the endocrinologist twice a year to keep tabs on my thyroid). I told her I was having some stiffness in my right knee and she said, "Well, you're getting arthritis." Wow, those are words that make you feel old. I just celebrated my 46th birthday - hardly over the hill. But last year I got bi-focals, and now this. It's officially downhill from here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

"Dear World"

My friend Stessa sent this to me ~

Dear World:

The United States of America, your quality supplier of ideals of liberty, justice and democracy, would like to apologize for its 2001-2008 service outage.

The technical fault that led to this eight-year service interruption has been located, and the parts responsible for it were replaced Tuesday night, November 4. Early tests of the newly-installed equipment indicate that it is functioning correctly, and we expect it to be fully functional by mid-January.

We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the outage, and we look forward to resuming full service -- and hopefully even to improving it -- in years to come.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.



Thursday, November 27, 2008

Football player wins Rhodes scholarship

I found this story inspiring. He's going to Oxford.

Florida State player wins Rhodes scholarship
November 22, 2008

Florida State safety Myron Rolle won a Rhodes scholarship less than three hours before the Seminoles kicked off in College Park against Maryland.

Rolle was one of seven finalists who interviewed in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday. He then boarded a charter plane and flew to Baltimore to join his teammates.

Rolle is the third Florida State student, and only football player, to win the award in the last four years. NCAA shot put champion Garrett Johnson and Joe O'Shea also won. Rolle, an aspiring neurosurgeon, will now decide between the NFL and an all-expense paid scholarship for two or three years of study at Oxford University in England.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Liberals say "thank you" to Sarah Palin

This one minute video is so funny!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"The world only spins forward"

As always, Anna Quindlen says it right:

One of my favorite Supreme Court cases is Loving v. Virginia, and not just because it has a name that would delight any novelist. It's because it reminds me, when I'm downhearted, of the truth of the sentiment at the end of "Angels in America," Tony Kushner's brilliant play: "The world only spins forward."

Here are the facts of the case, and if they leave you breathless with disbelief and rage it only proves Kushner's point, and mine: Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving got married in Washington, D.C. They went home to Virginia, there to be rousted out of their bed one night by police and charged with a felony. The felony was that Mildred was black and Richard was white and they were therefore guilty of miscegenation, which is a $10 word for bigotry. Virginia, like a number of other states, considered cross-racial matrimony a crime at the time.

It turned out that it wasn't just the state that hated the idea of black people marrying white people. God was onboard, too, according to the trial judge, who wrote, "The fact that He separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix." But the Supreme Court, which eventually heard the case, passed over the Almighty for the Constitution, which luckily has an equal-protection clause. "Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man," the unanimous opinion striking down the couple's conviction said, "fundamental to our very existence and survival."

That was in 1967.

Fast-forward to Election Day 2008, and a flurry of state ballot propositions to outlaw gay marriage, all of which were successful. This is the latest wedge issue of the good-old-days crowd, supplanting abortion and immigration. They really put their backs into it this time around, galvanized by court decisions in three states ruling that it is discriminatory not to extend the right to marry to gay men and lesbians.
[ . . . ]
Opponents will scream that the issue should be put to the people, as it was in Arizona, Florida and California. (Arkansas had a different sort of measure, forbidding unmarried couples from adopting or serving as foster parents. This will undoubtedly have the effect of leaving more kids without stable homes. For shame.) Of course if the issue in Loving had been put to the people, there is no doubt that many would have been delighted to make racial intermarriage a crime. That's why God invented courts.

. . . As for the notion that allowing gay men and lesbians to marry will destroy conventional marriage, I have found heterosexuals perfectly willing to do that themselves.

The last word here goes to an authority on battling connubial bigotry. On the anniversary of the Loving decision last year, the bride wore tolerance. Mildred Loving, mother and grandmother, who once had cops burst into her bedroom because she was sleeping with her own husband, was quoted in a rare public statement saying she believed all Americans, "no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry." She concluded, "That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."


Monday, November 24, 2008

Twilight success inspires teens to direct

This is very good news - not only is Twilight a HUGE success, but the director, Catherine Hardwicke, sees great things ahead:

"I hope not just women but all minorities get enthused and encouraged by it. I look at the (Directors Guild of America) calendar, at the pictures of everyone that had different movies each month, and it's usually 22-29 different directors, and almost every month there's one female and maybe one minority," she said.

"We've been having a lot of events, talking to a lot of fans, and so many kids of course are madly in love with Robert but tons of kids of every kind (and) girls are coming up to me and saying `I want to direct now, I'm writing a screenplay now, you're my inspiration.' I think it's great that people are getting excited."


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pope says Inter-Religious Dialogue 'Not Possible'

This can't be good:

Three weeks after the Vatican hosted an unprecedented conference with Muslim leaders, Pope Benedict has questioned the viability of interfaith dialogue, underscoring his longstanding focus on Europe's Christian roots.

The pope makes his comments in a preface to a book by an Italian conservative politician, Marcello Pera titled Why We Must Declare Ourselves Christians.

The pontiff writes that the book "explains with great clarity... that an inter-religious dialogue in the strict sense of the word is not possible," adding that "a true dialogue is not possible without putting one's faith in parentheses."

Benedict also warns against a European Union constitution that does not underscore the continent's Christian identity. Earlier this month, the Vatican led an interfaith conference in which Muslim leaders were invited.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Don't mess with the Zohan

Watched this on video this week. Pretty raunchy, but also genuinely funny. Larry and I are still giggling over some of the lines. Turns out the movie was written in 2000, but delayed because of 9-11. I guess 7 years is long enough to wait to make a satire about terrorism.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Creating your own melody

Went to a terrific scholar-in-residence program with Ari Goldman from Columbia University (who wrote, among other things, The Search for God at Harvard), at a neighboring synagogue tonight. He told a story about Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, who says that each good deed we perform adds a note to our own personal melody. I liked that imagery a lot.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Our latest paper

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"Requiem for a Maverick"

As usual, Matt Taibbi says exactly what I would say, if I could write as well as he does:

Like millions of Americans, I watched Barack Obama's victory on Election Night in a state of amazement. The only thing that gave me pause was the question of what kind of country this remarkable figure was now inheriting. Some of the luster of Obama's triumph would come off if the American presidency were no longer the Most Powerful Office in the World but simply the top job in a hopelessly broken nation suffering an irreversible decline.

Of all the problems facing this country by the end of the Bush years, the biggest is the absence of a unifying national idea. Since the end of the Cold War, America has been grasping left and right for an identity. We tried being a "world policeman" in Somalia, which didn't work so well. We tried retaining our Cold War outlook by simply replacing communists with terrorists. We created two bubble economies that blew up in our faces, and headed into 2008 a struggling capitalist state with a massive trade deficit and an overtaxed military that suddenly had to ask itself: For the supposed world leader in the community of nations, what exactly is it that we're still good at? Who are we, and what do we represent to the peoples of the Earth here and now — not in 1775 Concord, or 1945 Paris, or 1969, from the surface of the moon?

When Obama took the stage in Grant Park as president-elect, that question was answered. We pulled off an amazing thing here, delivering on our society's most ancient promises, in front of a world that still largely thought of us as the home of Bull Connor's fire hose. This dumbed-down, degraded election process of ours has, in spite of itself and to my own extreme astonishment, brilliantly re-energized the American experiment and restored legitimacy to our status as the world's living symbol of individual freedom. We feel like ourselves again, and the floundering economy and our two stagnating wars now seem like mere logistical problems that will be overcome sooner or later, instead of horrifying symptoms of inevitable empire-decline.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Forgiving Lieberman

It was helpful to read this summary in Time:


Yet Obama wasn't just acting out of bipartisan good will. In supporting Lieberman's continued inclusion in the Democratic caucus, he may have effectively defanged his toughest potential opponent in the Senate Democratic caucus. If Lieberman is anything, as he proved with John McCain, he's loyal — and now he owes Obama a big one.

And then I saw Harry Reid's press conference after the vote:


When asked what his message is to Democrats who are still angry at Lieberman, the Democratic leader responded, "I would defy anyone to be more angry than I was... but I also believe that you look at the problems we face as a nation, is this the time we walk out of here saying, 'Boy did we get even.'?"


Monday, November 17, 2008

"Fix It!"

Larry and I are still giggling about this clip from SNL's prime time show weeks ago.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Plastic surgery below the belt"

This article is horrifying on several levels, but this is the worst:

And if research on another type of female plastic surgery is any indication, that post-op happiness may be short-lived. A 2007 study published in the Annals of Plastic Surgery found that 10 years after women get cosmetic breast implants, a disturbing trend emerges: they are nearly three times as likely to commit suicide as other women. With the even more intimate genital surgery, says Tiefer, the potential long-term consequences are troubling. "[Women] are projecting their anxiety about sexuality onto this one thing: 'If only I could get this fixed, then I would feel confident to be sexual,' " she says. "This is a complicated issue."


Friday, November 14, 2008

Great quote

"We are the species that clamors to be lied to." --Joyce Carol Oates

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Great imagery

Mike Murphy, the Republican political consultant, said this morning on Morning Joe that Palin is like that lone hubcap after a car wreck - rolling down the road all by itself.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Spreading the wealth

I read this piece, from Newsweek's special election issue, on the commuter bus this morning. It makes a good case for why people should calm down about Obama's economic plans.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama, the left, and the right

As usual, I think Digby at Hullabaloo is RIGHT ON:

Walter Isaacson on Fareed Zakaria's show: If you look at the really big issues that you've got to tackle, the four or five big ones, you've got to deal with terrorism, with the financial crisis, with health care, climate change and K-12 education in this country --- you're better off doing it as a coalition reaching out to the other side because that's how transforming policies can be made.

Isn't it pretty to think so? I'm so sorry to intrude on the kumbaaya fantasy where the right graciously accepts Obama's hand in friendship and they all skip off into never-never land together, but the fact is that these changes are more often made by using political power to either win with a partisan mandate or force the other side to capitulate. These people think it's all about "reaching out" and telling your own constituents to take a hike when it's much more about skillfully using the bully pulpit and institutional leverage. (I guess they really think it's possible to solve huge intractable ideological, tribal differences by putting people in a room together and saying "stop the bullshit" --- or maybe in Obama's case, "I hear you." )

I would remind everyone that a (still popular with the GOP base) Republican president tried to pass a bipartisan compromise bill on immigration last year. It had many things in it that the "left" did not like. But they bit their tongues and went along. Who didn't go along? That's right, it was the far right that tanked their own president's bill and they did it with a grassroots campaign that scared the hell out of their political leadership. And they'll do it again.

. . . Considering that the Republican party really has been purged of moderates now, I'd say that the GOP is going to be the much bigger roadblock to compromise than the left. They're more radical than ever. The Republican party is now led by Rush Limbaugh. There's nobody else. And when Obama reaches out his hand to Rush Limbaugh he's going to get it whacked off with a chainsaw, at which point, these villagers (who haven't even considered this political problem) are going to blame Obama for being unable to govern in a bipartisan fashion.

All over television this morning the gasbags seemed convinced that Obama had been elected to stop the left from ruining the country. And when it turns out to actually be his supposedly cooperative new partners in governance --- the right --- that stands in his way, they will blame him for being too far left. It's a trap.

What these people really want is a wizard who can solve all problems without a fight, a leader who gives them tingles down their legs and an historic figure who makes them feel really, really good about themselves for being the agents of America's transformation from country to Nirvana. It's not the left who sees him as an apostle. It's the Village.


Prior elections

These comments got me thinking about how Reagan did in his elections, and I found a great site that shows results with maps and charts. Fun to compare elections (notice that this site uses red for Democrats and blue for Republicans).


Why I'm for Obama

A dear friend who is a Republican asked me this: This may sound disingenuous, but tell me why having Obama in office is going to be so great. I'm surrounded by conservatives who, while they don't come out and say he's the Antichrist, nevertheless are filled with trepidation that he's going to take away their money and their right to bear arms and so on. On the Republican side, we were resigned that Mccain was our guy, the only choice we had, so we voted for him. All the Dems I know (all 3 of you) were very excited about Obama, and I'd just like your perspective.

It's a fair question and one that I've thought about plenty, during the long primary and during the general election. It has a lot to do with what I value and what I think the role of government should be.

First let me say that although I understand concerns of conservatives, like gun control, the truth is that the president is not all powerful and we have three branches of government which provide checks and balances. Certainly Bush spoke about and advocated many things that did not happen because he cannot change laws, only Congress can do that. So some of the concerns and the rhetoric about Obama are sort of silly, IMO, because that's just not the way it works. Even someone like Reagan, who won by huge majorities both times he ran, was unable (or unwilling) to change many things that he had talked about.

Anyway. Just some of the reasons that I like Obama. The race thing is really important to me. I think the symbolism of finally having someone other than a white person as the leader of our country is really powerful. It sends a message to Americans and to other countries. It says we're open to people who are different, we respect them, we recognize that they are more than the color of their skin. That matters to me.

I also think, have always thought, that Obama is really smart. He taught consitutional law. He knows a lot about government and history, and he brings that understanding to his management of our country. We need that now, more than ever, because there are a bunch of serious problems facing the country simultaneously.

Also, he's well-read and well-traveled, he has a broad understanding of the world. I think we need that. I think Bush's approach to foreign countries and foreign leaders damaged America and made us less effective in the world.

He also obviously surrounds himself with good people, people who are smart and experienced and clear-headed. Someone in such an important leadership position needs good advice and needs to have to ability to take that advice and use it. I think that ability will be a big benefit to America's effectiveness, both domestically and abroad.

And he will prioritize the things that are important to me. He will strengthen government agencies like the EPA and HHS, instead of letting them whither and die. He will appoint an Attorney General who will apply the law in the ways that I think it should be. He will support scientific research. He will use his bully pulpit to talk about things that I think are valuable.

And I just like what he says. I like his optimism, I like the way he talks about working together and taking responsibility for our country. What he says is what I believe. Read one of his speeches:

Democratic National Convention speech in 2004

"Yes We Can" speech in New Hampshire, 2008

Speech on race in South Carolina, 2008

Election night speech


Monday, November 10, 2008

Obama to review all Bush executive orders

This is extremely good news!!!

CHICAGO — President-elect Barack Obama is poised to move swiftly to reverse actions that President Bush took using executive authority, and his transition team is reviewing limits on stem-cell research and the expansion of oil and gas drilling, among other issues, members of the team said Sunday.

While Obama prepared to make his first post-election visit to the White House today, his advisers were compiling a list of policies that could be reversed by the executive powers of the new president. The assessment is under way, aides said, but a full list of policies to be overturned will not be announced by Obama until he confers with new members of his cabinet.

"There's a lot that the president can do using his executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I think we'll see the president do that," John Podesta, a top transition leader, said Sunday. "He feels like he has a real mandate for change. We need to get off the course that the Bush administration has set."

Throughout his presidency, Bush has made liberal use of his executive authority, using it to put his stamp on a range of hot-button policy issues.


Joe Scarborough drops the f bomb

Larry actually saw this on TV and told me about it - I had to watch online (2 minute video). Joe was talking about how inappropriate Rahm Emmanuel can be! Pretty funny!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Media treatment of Joe Biden

My friend Stessa sent this - it's not long and it's quite thought-provoking. Below is an excerpt.

Authenticity and access, that's what the campaign press corps craves.

Election scribes claim they long for candidates who venture off-script and are confident enough to reveal themselves on the campaign trail, to say what they really think instead of hiding behind consultant-approved sound bites. (The press, we're told, hates phonies.)

And, of course, the press prizes access to candidates in hopes of uncovering that authenticity, in hopes of tapping the candidate's true personality. The two -- authenticity and access -- are the cornerstones of the press' campaign pursuit.

So when Sen. Joe Biden was tapped as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, it should have been a press dream, right? Biden immediately swung open his doors to the press. And as he's done for years, he showed no hesitation in flashing signs of a caution-be-damned approach on the campaign trail. Forever comfortable in his own skin and representing something of a throwback to the era of garrulous Irish-Catholic pols who loved the art of conversation, Biden seemed to revel in his off-the-cuffs moments with voters and reporters.

And yes, sometimes that meant Biden became tongue-tied and made gaffes and had to walk back comments. But for reporters, Biden's approach sure seemed better than covering the type of play-it-safe candidates they regularly complain about. (I'm picturing Mitt Romney ... )
If anything, grateful reporters should have rewarded Biden's wide-open style (not to mention his generous access), right?

Wrong. Throughout the fall campaign, the press relentlessly painted Biden as a
buffoon and a goof. Rather than reward Biden for being open and honest with voters, the press punished him for weeks on end.

The irony was thick. The media loved pushing the Biden-says-nutty-things narrative. Yet the press whines incessantly about how scripted candidates are and that their interaction with voters out on the trail is phony and contrived. They complain about how the candidates aren't entertaining enough, as if that's their job. Authenticity and access, that's what the campaign press corps craves.

Election scribes claim they long for candidates who venture off-script and are confident enough to reveal themselves on the campaign trail, to say what they really think instead of hiding behind consultant-approved sound bites. (The press, we're told, hates phonies.)

And, of course, the press prizes access to candidates in hopes of uncovering that authenticity, in hopes of tapping the candidate's true personality. The two -- authenticity and access -- are the cornerstones of the press' campaign pursuit.

So when Sen. Joe Biden was tapped as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, it should have been a press dream, right? Biden immediately swung open his doors to the press. And as he's done for years, he showed no hesitation in flashing signs of a caution-be-damned approach on the campaign trail. Forever comfortable in his own skin and representing something of a throwback to the era of garrulous Irish-Catholic pols who loved the art of conversation, Biden seemed to revel in his off-the-cuffs moments with voters and reporters.

And yes, sometimes that meant Biden became tongue-tied and made gaffes and had to walk back comments. But for reporters, Biden's approach sure seemed better than covering the type of play-it-safe candidates they regularly complain about. (I'm picturing Mitt Romney ... )
If anything, grateful reporters should have rewarded Biden's wide-open style (not to mention his generous access), right?

Wrong. Throughout the fall campaign, the press relentlessly painted Biden as a
buffoon and a goof. Rather than reward Biden for being open and honest with voters, the press punished him for weeks on end.

The irony was thick. The media loved pushing the Biden-says-nutty-things narrative. Yet the press whines incessantly about how scripted candidates are and that their interaction with voters out on the trail is phony and contrived. They complain about how the candidates aren't entertaining enough, as if that's their job.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Get Your War On

The guy who used to do this comic strip has hooked up with an animator and now it's action packed. This is great - now that Obama's been elected, be very afraid (1 1/2 minute video).


Hockey mom against Sarah Palin

This is late, but I just got the link from my friend Beth in Philly. It's totally worth watching - sung to the tune of Evita. Funny!


Friday, November 07, 2008

"The role of government is to improve people's lives"

Great stuff over at Hullabaloo - this is pretty much my whole philosophy in a nutshell.

It's a funny thing, the public wants you to improve their lives a bit and keep your campaign promises to do so, and they don't really seem that concerned about whether you're moving too far to "the left" or "the right."

In fact, the entire notion of "what kind of a country is America" becomes quickly tautological. This is a centrist country in the sense that the center would be the median ideology of everyone in it. The question becomes where is that center. And it's completely clear that the public agrees with Obama's agenda, which includes investments in public health, education, energy and infrastructure, an end to the war in Iraq, increased diplomacy, reproductive choice, and a more progressive tax code.

If you want to call that a progressive majority, it would be hard to argue with you. But more than anything, it's a recognition on the part of the vast majority of the public that they would rather have a government that improves people's lives instead of one that actively harms it. So while looking at self-described ideology shows that the electorate is in pretty much the same place as it has been, that's a false indicator. People want to stop being screwed, and they intuitively understand that a conservative agenda was doing that repeatedly. They don't want to be ruled by monsters anymore. The best way to show them that you're not a monster is to marginally improve their lives, fulfilling your role as a public servant to the greater good.
[ . . . ]
The role of government is to improve people's lives. Through initiating projects through collective action that the individual cannot do themselves, like building roads and bridges and police and fire departments. Through equalizing opportunity for success through education programs. Through making sure the least of us doesn't slip into grinding poverty with a social safety net, rather than just socialism for the rich and connected. Through making sure that we have a health care system that provides access and treatment as a basic human right. Through defending the nation with diplomacy and international engagement instead of sending in the military at the slightest provocation. Through adhering to a Constitution that has been ignored and mocked the last eight years.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Transition speculation

A friend notified me of this - Newsweek's lists of odds for cabinet posts. Fun.


Surviving to fight another day

This is an interesting perspective from Time, though I read it at my favorite blog, Hullabaloo:

Election night was miserable for the Republicans: they lost the presidency, at least five seats in the Senate, and around 20 seats in the House. They are officially out of power. But considering how bad the damage might have been, the GOP actually had the best night they could realistically hope for under the circumstances.

Looking back at our races to watch, just about all the conservative Republicans in traditionally red territory held seats needed by the GOP to avoid a blowout: Senators Roger Wicker in Mississippi, Mitch McConnell in Kentucky and, probably, Saxby Chambliss in Georgia, along with House members John Shadegg in Arizona, Cynthia Lummis in Wyoming and the Diaz-Balart brothers in Florida. It looks like graft-convicted Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska will somehow retain his seat long enough to get expelled, and his ethically and temperamentally challenged porkmate, Don Young, was reelected as well; Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota survived her McCarthyite rant on Hardball, and Ohio's similarly obnoxious Jean Schmidt once again avoided a well-deserved early retirement. Republicans even ousted four first-term Democrats before they could get entrenched in deep-red districts — not only the clearly doomed Casanova Tim Mahoney of Florida, but Nancy Boyda of Kansas, Dan Cazayoux of Louisiana and Nick Lampson of Texas.

Democrats did knock off a few fire-breathing right-wing targets: wacky Bill Sali of Idaho, who protested a minimum-wage hike by introducing a bill to repeal the law of gravity; Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado, who once declared gay marriage the greatest threat to America; Tom Feeney of Florida, an escapee from the Abramoff scandal; and Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, who ran ads calling her Christian opponent "godless." They also defeated some impressive Republicans who could have helped lead the party out of the wilderness, like moderate Congressman Christopher Shays of Connecticut, conservative Senator John Sununu of New Hampshire, and pragmatic Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, who had hoped to swim upstream into the governor's office.

Still, it could have been worse. After eight ugly years of AIG, WMDs, Abu Ghraib, Enron, Blackwater, freedom fries, yellowcake, record deficits, Fannie and Freddie and Brownie, Mark Foley and Duke Cunningham and Tom DeLay, the Republican Party should qualify for a bailout. Retiring GOP Congressman Tom Davis memorably declared that if Republicans were a dog food, they'd be pulled off the shelves — and their usually well-funded candidates were badly outspent this cycle. But they've survived to fight for more kibbles in the future.


Trashing Sarah Palin

I got the following from a dear friend, who titled her email "we could have gotten someone more evil than Bush." Now, I didn't like Sarah Palin from the first day, but I have to admit, this feeding frenzy on her is pretty unseemly and the word "evil" is grossly misused. I heard all the stuff below on TV and I agree with those who criticize McCain aides for going out of their way to try and embarrass Palin this way. As for McCain being "offended" by her spending, that sounds absurd. The guy lives like a king. I'm sure he's no stranger to Neiman Marcus and I'm sure his wife, the heiress, doesn't shop at a consignment shop. And even if Sarah Palin did go a bit wild on her shopping trip, that's hardly a serious reflection on her leadership abilities (and it wasn't taxpayer money, it was RNC money). There's plenty of substantial reasons to criticize her, should she reemerge on the national scene. For now, I think we should move on.

If the truth ever comes out, she'll make GWB look like a philanthropist with the taxpayers' money. This is from Newsweek via DailyKos:

NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin's shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain's top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family—clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent "tens of thousands" more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast," and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books. A Palin aide said: "Governor Palin was not directing staffers to put anything on their personal credit cards, and anything that staffers put on their credit cards has been reimbursed, like an expense. Nasty and false accusations following a defeat say more about the person who made them than they do about Governor Palin." McCain himself rarely spoke to Palin during the campaign, and aides kept him in the dark about the details of her spending on clothes because they were sure he would be offended. Palin asked to speak along with McCain at his Arizona concession speech Tuesday night, but campaign strategist Steve Schmidt vetoed the request.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Death wish

Well, if I needed to come back to earth (I really didn't), there's this: I was in my chiropractor's office this evening (he supported Huckabee, which tells you about all you need to know), and he told me that his patients were saying, in essence, there's no need to worry, Obama will be dead soon enough. Welcome to upstate NY. So, does that count as wishful thinking? And these people no doubt consider themselves good Christians. I understand that they're not pleased, but ICK.

My home county in AZ goes big for Obama

I was so happy to see this - even in very Red State Arizona, home to John McCain.


Yea Maffei!

I forgot to mention how thrilled I am that our congressional seat went to a terrific young man, Dan Maffei, who worked for Bill Bradley, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and Charles Rangel. He ran two years ago and almost beat the longtime incumbent, Jim Walsh (the worst of the worst - he essentially inherited the seat from his father, and he voted with Bush about 98% of the time). Then, Walsh announced his retirement a few months ago (off to the private sector to make a killing, I'm sure). A local Republican hatchetman, Dale Sweetland, was thrown on the ballot, and Maffei took him in a rout. I worked for his campaign in 2006 and did a little this year, but he didn't really need the help - the DCCC took him under their wing and it was all but a foregone conclusion, even in this purplish district (blue in the city and red in the 'burbs).

Other races in the county:

Our state assembly rep, Al Stirpe (BEST campaign ad I saw all year) won handily and the state senators (one Republican and one Democrat) held their seats (the county has 2 districts). The judges were mixed - the Dem won the Supreme Court judgeship, but the Republican won the Surrogate Court.

Some numbers

Not the final tallies, but great stuff:

Obama: 63 million - 52% - 349 EV
McCain: 56 million - 46% - 163 EV

As someone pointed out, our electoral college system leads to this - 6 points difference in popular vote and a blowout in the EV. Also noted: Obama is the first Dem in several decades to get more than 50% of the popular vote, and to win North Carolina. Frankly, I find it hard to believe that 56 million people voted for McCain.

This is bad news

California Proposition 8 - Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry
YES: 5,220,694 52.2%
NO: 4,792,873 47.8%

Other less happy election news:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) kept his seat.

Felon Ted Stevens (AK) kept his seat.

Michele Bachman (MN) kept her seat (the one who told Chris Matthews that Congress should investigate anti-American activity among elected representatives).

Rahm Emanuel Offered White House Chief of Staff

I was JUST thinking about Rahm this morning and wondering why he has been so under the radar during this election.

President-elect Obama has offered the White House chief of staff job to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill. Emanuel, a knowledgeable source tells ABC News, has not yet given his answer. The sharp-tongued, sharp-elbowed, keenly intelligent veteran of the Clinton White House is said to have ambitions to some day be Speaker of the House. But he also has a keen sense of "duty."

Today on "Good Morning America" ABC's
George Stephanopoulos reported Obama likes the fact that Emanuel "knows policy, knows politics, knows Capitol Hill" and has told associates that Emanuel would "have his back."

There is a tentative plan to announce Obama's chief of staff this week.

And here's more cabinet speculation:

A host of names are being bandied about as possible members of an Obama administration.

Paul Volcker, a key economic advisor, who was federal reserve chairman under Ronald Reagan and broke the back of an inflation crisis in the early 1980s, could return briefly to his old post to try and stabilize the economy.

Investor Warren Buffett and Robert Rubin, a former Clinton treasury secretary, could also assume economic posts in an Obama White House.

Rahm Emanuel, an Illinois representative who served in the Clinton White House, is said to have been approached to be Mr. Obama’s chief of staff. Another possibility is Tom Daschle, the former U.S. senator for South Dakota.

Bill Richardson, the New Mexico Governor, and Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts have been tipped for secretary of state, while Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a Republican, is being touted for defence. Mr. Obama is said to want to keep on Robert Gates, the current Defence Secretary, so he can supervise a troop withdrawal from Iraq, but Mr. Gates has apparently said he wants to retire.

Colin Powell, the former Bush secretary of state who endorsed Mr. Obama, could also be given a role as a special envoy in an Obama White house.


Had a great conversation on the commuter bus this morning with an intelligent and thoughtful man who works at the VA (up the block from my campus). He said he's spent the last 7 1/2 years regretting his vote for Bush.

"The color purple rules"

So saith Oprah.

Great words

I love that Obama echoed MLK's words in his speech last night (one of my favorite quotes):

We will overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

It's the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

Watched Obama's speech. I cried.

Hello, Chicago.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America. It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day. It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain. Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him; I congratulate Governor Palin for all that they've achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton ... and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years ... the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady ... Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia ... I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us ...to the new White House. And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother's watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure. To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you've given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe ... the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best -- the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.To my chief strategist David Axelrod ... who's been a partner with me every step of the way.To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics ... you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generations apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didnt do this just to win an election and I know you didnt do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how theyll make the mortgage, or pay their doctors bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who wont agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government cant solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way its been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.
So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, its that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.
Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if Americas beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one thats on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. Shes a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldnt vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that shes seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we cant, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when womens voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we cant, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Watched McCain's speech

He's a class act. Now get off the stage old man.

It's a blow out

Obama's EV count is going to lap McCain's. I never thought these numbers were possible.

Now it feels real

I knew my friend Suzanne was out celebrating, but she called when there was a break in the action. I hadn't realized how much I was waiting to hear from her - it just isn't an election without a chat with her.

Obama is the winner

Talk about shock and awe - I'm shocked and I'm in awe. CNN just declared that Obama is the President Elect. Larry can't believe it either.

Matt is delirious

Matt was excited about voting for the first time, but he's even more excited now that it looks like Obama is going to win. He is so happy to have helped this historic moment occur.

Now the euphoria is on the other foot

This is what I said to a Republican friend of mine. My friend Nancy texted me that the only thing that would make the evening even better is to see Sean Hannity cry.

Happy birthday to me

My friend Kate called me to say what a nice early BD present this is. She is so right!

The Democratic Party Party

I'm supposed to go over to the Holiday Inn for the "double party," as my friend Erin called it, once the kids were settled in bed, but I'm just so tired. Not sure where all my energy went, maybe it's the relief! So I'm watching CNN and reading 2 or 3 websites simultaneously, in the comfort of my dining room.

The bluest states (top 20)

Larry and I were discussing which states are the "bluest" this a.m., so I looked it up. I figured NY was up there, which it is, and I knew Massachusetts was #1. This ranking is based on the 2004 presidential election (it'll be interesting to see if the ranking changes this time around):

1. Massachusetts
2. Vermont
3. Rhode Island
4. New York
5. Maryland
6. Connecticut
7. Maine
8. Illinois
9. Hawaii
10. California
11. Washington
12. New Jersey
13. Delaware
14. Oregon
15. Minnesota
16. Michigan
17. Wisconsin
18. Pennsylvania
19. New Hampshire
20. Iowa



This is what passes as a line in the 'burbs of Syracuse.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The best is bad

This market analyst, Howard Davidowitz, on NPR this morning was certainly singing a sad tune. He said that Americans' standard of living "will never be the same" and he said that he hoped for the best, which would be very bad. Discouraging.


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Apathy makes me sick!!!

I was feeling really discouraged this morning. Hanging with some friends on Saturday night, one woman, who is especially bright and capable, dismissed our nascent conversation about the election, saying, in essence "politics are stupid." I wanted to grab her by the collar and scream at her: "Don't you know that your government directly affects your life?!"

Then at the synagogue on Sunday morning, another woman dismissed "politics" with a sneer, saying she didn't know who to vote for because she "didn't believe either of them."

I'd rather have an argument with the most rabid Republican than deal with this apathy. It REALLY bothers me. If you don't care, if you can't be bothered for figure out who you want to represent you, then do us ALL a favor, and don't vote. But don't live in America, don't enjoy the benefits of democracy, and don't LAUD the beauty of democracy, if you can't be bothered to care, to educate yourself, or to have an opinion.

A new hope

Then I talked to my friend Mary, who lives in Virginia. Things are HOPPING there. People are SO motivated. There are lines around the block to vote. She couldn't find a slot at the local precinct office on election day because there were so many volunteers. She personally knows lifelong Republicans who are voting for Obama. I felt a LOT better after talking to her.


Saturday, November 01, 2008


The first of the High School Musical movies to be shown in theaters. My friend, Dawn, talked me into taking Alana, along with her and her 6 year old daughter, Nikki. The theater was surprisingly empty at the 2:15 show. The music was definitely catchy and the stars are easy on the eyes, but it's SO saccharine, and I have a pretty high tolerance for saccharine. It's essentially the very same plot as the first movie, with different songs. The movies are set in Albuquerque, NM, which I didn't know before. Nikki cried when Troy was sad about Gabriella - yikes! Thankfully, Alana wasn't moved that much.


The Ron Clark Academy Rap

Not sure how I missed this totally viral video of the debate team from this Atlanta school (see the movie) rapping about the election at the Coca Cola Leadership Summit. They created the song as a parody of TI's "Whatever You Like." Here's the lyrics:

Obama on the left
McCain on the right
We can talk politics all night
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah
Democratic leftRepublican right
November 4th we decide
And you can vote however you like
You can vote however you like, yeah

(McCain supporters)
McCain's the best candidate
With Palin as his running mate
They'll fight for gun rights, pro life,
The conservative right
Our future is bright
Better economy in site
And all the world will feel our military might

(Obama supporters)
But McCain and Bush are real close right
They vote alike and keep it tight
Obama's new, he's younger too
The Middle Class he will help you
He'll bring a change, he's got the brains
McCain and Bush are just the same
You are to blame,
Iraq's a shame
Four more years would be insane

Lower your Taxes - you know Obama won't!
PROTECT THE LOWER CLASS - you know McCain won't!
Have enough experience - you know that they don't
STOP GLOBAL WARMING - you know that you won't
I want Obama -- FORGET OBAMA
Stick with McCain and you're going to have some drama
We need it
He'll be it
We'll do it
Let's move it


I'm talking big pipe lines, and low gas prices
Below $2.00 that would be nice
But to do it right we gotta start today
Finding renewable ways that are here to stay

I want Obama -- FORGET OBAMA,
Stick wit McCain you gonna have some drama
Iran he will attack
We gotta vote Barack!