I can't decide if David Gregory is a good interviewer.
I am writing over a series of ten to twelve texts to a friend on Sunday morning.
I feel like he gets upset with his guests because he thinks he should; never for the right reasons.
Yeah, I'm the asshole who uses semi-colons in text messages.
And I'm watching him interview Jamie Dimon now and all I want is ONE follow-up in which he (Dave G.) asks if Jaime is one of the bankers on WS that would be willing to pay higher capital gains taxes (Dimon is talking in 3rd person, saying things like, 'There are a lot of bankers on Wall Street who would like to pay higher capital gains taxes') or in which he asks WHO on WS the gov't should go after (following Dimon saying that there were, indeed, certain bankers on Wall Street who should *paraphrase* pay the price *end paraphrase*).
I text very quickly on my BlackBerry handheld device.
Oh My God. Davey G. actually accurately corrected Sen. Levin about JPMorgan!
I don't receive a response to any of my texts until mid-afternoon. And then she writes back only:
yea...david gregory looks like a monkey to top it off...
I wait until the following week (because, it turns out, you have to) and then I watch "Meet the Press" again. This time, DG teases a segment with, "What would happen if the election were held today? I'll ask my panel when we come back."
I'm furiously trying to find a sports simile for this. It's not like Charles Barkley (the commentator version, not the power forward or the dude from Weight Watchers) wondering after the first 22 minutes of a Heat-Pacers game who would win if the game ended now. It's not exactly like Rowdy Gaines, curious in the middle of a 400m freestyle at the London Olympic Games, who would come out ahead if they stopped swimming after 250 meters. It's most accurately like boxing. But it's not like any boxing match. It's particularly like the 1974 "Rumble in the Jungle" between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.
I don't mean to compare either candidate to either fighter, just David Gregory's eye-roll inducing question to the situations.
If you would have asked, "What would happen if the fight ended right now?" after round 3, you would answer, Foreman wins. If you would have asked after Round 5, Foreman wins. After round 7, Foreman wins. If you would ask, "What would happen if we ended the fight at two minutes and 45 seconds into round 8?" Foreman wins.
Fifteen seconds later, Ali won the match.
Tease questions like Gregory's are intended to do exactly that, tease. But the supposition that it matters at all what would happen were the election held today is banal and useless. Elections aren't like basketball games in which each team performs to the precision of their abilities for the entire 48 minutes. Nor are they comparable to a mid-distance race in which one guy may be saving himself for the second half, but in which he is not using his opponent’s energy at that opponent's peril.
In elections you have to take hits and you have to know when to hit back and where to hit back and sometimes even why to hit back.
If Obama loses in November, it will most likely be because his team in Chicago hit back too soon, at a time when they should have continued taking the body shots (punches to the abdomen, not the secret service kind of body shots) and didn’t follow the advice I’m sure Homer Simpson would give if he were doing a Sun-Tzu impression: Never fight emotionally.
A more appropriate question is something to the effect of: What punches are left in each candidate's arsenal and when will they be thrown and will they land?
If Romney loses in November, it will most likely be because he feigned at hitting Obama's proverbial gonads with something like a Swift Boat shot. But, the likelihood of Romney pulling that punch is tantamount to Dr. Dre admitting East Coast for Life, Muthafucka! and setting up a new studio in Greenwich, Conn.
Gov. Romney is more capable of making sweet pulp of Obama than was Sen. John McCain because Romney innately lacks the basic human characteristics (probity, empathy, authenticity, restraint from attacking and mocking a homosexual high school student (an incident that will, sadly, be on exactly zero minds in the enclosed booths on November 6)) that McCain embodied when he told a fringe lunatic at a rally that Barack Obama is not, contrary to all logic and obvious empirical turbanical evidence, "an Arab."
This election may be "about the economy" but David Gregory should not be asking about the Romney economic plan. He should be asking about the man implementing the putative plan and why should he be trusted.
Now, back to Meet the Press. And if I text you invective followed by OMG WHO THE F CARES!!!, don't be alarmed because, if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.
I wonder what George Stephanopoulos is up to right now.
“First of all,” a slightly kidding, moderately sardonic and more-or-less pissed-off David Letterman said directly to the camera and more directly to then Republican presidential candidate John McCain, “The road to the White House runs right through me.”
With a floppy Keith Olbermann at his right hand, Letterman was in his stride on a 20-plus minute John McCain Diatribe the night that the senator canceled an appearance on his (Letterman’s) “Late Show” program in September 2008 with the excuse that he (McCain) was rushing to catch a flight to Washington to attempt to avert or minimize (or something) the calamitous financial situation that would prove, quite historically of course, to be less avoidable or controllable than even a humongous government-woven money fire blanket could assuage, let alone the suspension of a faltering presidential campaign.
Whether or not Dave was kidding when he placed himself between a contender and the White House is immaterial. What’s important is that a) it was funny and b) it is true.
The importance of the talk show appearance – particularly on late night talk shows where candidates can exude a bit more edge and personality, and particularly in an election year – cannot be overstated. It can burn or bolster a candidate. It can humanize or demonize, add or detract.
Myriad research has been done on the “Late Night Effect” – which indicates the ability for information and entertainment to temporarily fuse and reach and extended audience by imbuing info and by doing it in a manner easy to grasp – as well as on what makes a good talk show appearance.
One of the more recent studies was explained by Michael Parkin, an associate professor of politics at Oberlin College, who transcribed 84 talk show interviews of politicians from 1994 to 2008.
“I think there is some sort of political value of getting people who might otherwise not be so interested in politics actually interested through this medium,” Parkin said. “It doesn’t just get them interested in a superficial way; it gets them actually interested because they hear about real policies.”
President Barak Obama visited with Jimmy Fallon last month to talk about student loans policy. The information was presented as a slow-jam, backed by The Roots, which is comparable to putting an antibiotic pill in the middle of a glob of peanut butter so that a dog will eat it. But it worked.It works.Kids (meaning 18-25 year olds) pay attention.
So when someone like Ann Coulter goes on Sean Hannity the day after the president’s appearance and says, “I don't know what Obama is gonna do. Is he gonna keep going on silly late night TV shows? With shockingly few viewers by the way,” it doesn’t make much sense. (Shocker.) Coulter claimed that even the lowest rated Fox News Channel show had four times as many glazed-over eyeballs as Fallon. But, even if that were true, it wouldn’t matter.
Not only does Fallon get play over and over and over again on this amazing new medium known only as the internet, but the information is presented in a way that causes familiarity and possibly leads to the desire of wanting to learn more.
And that’s been around for a while.What’s new (and utterly exciting) is the ability of talk shows not just to present information in a digestible form, but to protect us from false information (aka: embellishments, fictions, straight up lies).
From Letterman crapping on McCain’s Save-the-Day Parade, to last night’s “Daily Show with Jon Stewart” in which the host was able to lead a segment with a term straight out of freshman year psych class (without losing half his viewership!) and go on to explain why presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney taking credit for Obama’s achievements with the auto industry is abject rat feces.
What warms my heart late at night as I lie in bed wondering what will happen if the Soviets attack us and we haven’t elected Mitt Romney in time to protect us is that a certain talk show pointed out that, oh yeah, there are no Soviets anymore.
No longer will political spin and demagoguery and “I never said that” be reasonable.
No more will Swiftboating a candidate into shame be possible against the checks and balances of Dave and Jon and Ellen and Conan and Katie and Jimmy…and Jimmy.
Never again will a candidate get away with theatrically suspending his campaign without an acerbic host shouting from behind a desk at a live-feed monitor, “Hey, John, I got a question. You need a ride to the airport?”
How the question came to be printed in the March 25 NewYork Times The Magazine has a number of plausible geneses. In one, three Times employees are standing around a fourth’s cubicle talking about lunch. One talks about ordering a pastrami sandwich from Carnegie. Another talks about if the first even knows what kind of animal pastrami once was. The first says she doesn’t care, it’s delicious. Number three maybe postulates how it’s interesting that that is always a meat-eater’s reason for meat-eating: it’s delicious. While arguments abound for not eating meat, none of the Times employees can, off the tops of their hungry little heads, come up with an argument for why, in this time and country of soybean plenty, consuming animals is ethical. I wondering if anyone can, says the first.
Or: every semester for the past N years, Prof. Peter Singer has posed this question to his introductory ethics classes down at Princeton University. Why is it ethical to eat meat? And since 2012 - N, nary a bushy-tailed sophomore has been able to offer Singer a satisfactory answer. And because he’s not getting any younger and because he’s a fan of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, Singer decided to poll the audience of the New York Times.
Don’t tell us why you like meat, asked the newspaper, why organic trumps local or why your food is yours to choose. Just tell us why it’s ethical to eat meat.
The conundrum is a bunch of pink slime.
Ethical meat-eating defines ethics for animals, rather than reserving use for human-on-human interaction, those that are capable of ought.
We'll get back to that.
First, let's start with what isn't at stake:
I'm guessing the conundrum wasn't posed to argue etymology or semantics.
Neither, I hope, should the intent of the question be to draw out the amateur biologist, masses of liberal-elite, wannabe-intelligentsia Googling exactly "how is animal protein different from plant protein?" because, either, they never learned in or forgot since their second-rate educations in their third-tier universities.
And I don't suppose we want six hundred word answers that quote from "Beyond Good and Evil" as arguments for the abject futility of such questions.
It comes down to the trite: Why should we condone the consumption of other sentient beings if human survival is not dependent on their consumption, and the do-unto-others excuse doesn't apply because a) these sentient beings, if carnivorous, are not conscious enough to be considered moral, or b) the sentient beings we're consuming are not, they themselves, consuming other sentient beings at all. It's a question of drawing lines.
Then, immediately, regrettably, we must take this to: Are you a Pro-Life advocate?
The answer is important because the Abortion Issue is also without absolute ethics (especially if, like Peter Singer, your gondola floats down a utilitarian canal; these issues are simply too LARGE for utilitarianism to handle) and has two sides, defined as clearly, at least, as Tastes Great and Less Filling.
If your answer is yes, I do advocate that life begins at conception and all zygotes are sentient beings conscious and capable of feeling (though not of complex thought on a necessarily human level), you are qualified to believe eating meat is unethical; just as the animals we eat satisfy the two conditions set forth three paragraphs ago, so do (most) zygotes and embryos we evacuate prematurely ex utero.
If you answer no, you are logically obligated to project the sanctity you hold dear for a woman's body and a woman's decisions to a human's body and a human's decisions. This isn't to say "your food is yours to choose." It means that others' food is theirs to choose.
Further, this condition shuts out the lack-of-human-survival-necessity case against meat. The survival of humanity is no more dependent on meat than it is on a woman aborting an embryo. And, if that's incorrect, we have a new standard by which irony is measured, which would be, like this question is, a bunch of pink slime.
This question is pink slime because it's not a question at all. It's an argument wearing a cheap question Halloween costume. You can't ask a why is meat ethical and then say: but don't tell us why you like meat, or why your cows are raised happy, or why you're a libertarian...or why meat is a family tradition, or why working in the consumer meat industry is your livelihood, or why you burn copies of Charlotte's Web when you're not malevolently tipping slumbering bovines. Just tell us what we want to hear.
The question is at least a fallacy and at most borderline petitio principii.
Fact is: all of the aforementioned, before-the-fact discarded reasons are, by definition, ethical reasons. Now if only we could define ethics.
The word [ethics] itself is sometimes used to refer to the set of rules, principles, or ways of thinking that guide, or claim authority to guide, the actions of a particular group; and sometimes it stands for the systematic study of reasoning about how we ought to act (Singer, "Ethics," 1994; underline added).
This article was reported and written before Mr. Shadid’s death in Syria is how Anthony Shadid’s first article published by the New York Times since his passing starts. Before an asthma attack took his life while on assignment in Syria, Shadid profiled Said Ferjani, the man at the metaphorical helm of the new ruling party in the Tunisian government, who is fighting for the life of a governing system that he believes can combine the ideals of Islam with those of Democracy. The system has one foot in the west and the other in the farther eastern, further Arab world because, quite appropriately, the movement’s roots are in Morocco and Tunisia, geographically contiguous to Western and Arabic lands.
The movement, says Shadid, exports "ideas that see a synthesis of what the most radical Islamists, along with their many critics here and in the West, still deem irreconcilable: faith and democracy."
And why should they, critic or no, believe that faith and democracy can collaborate to govern? Where has it worked? As the scrum of the GOP nomination daily attacks President Barack Obama for his iniquities against the core of America, which is of course (sometimes implicitly, sometimes explicitly) Christianity, it’s hard to argue that it’s worked in the US.
We’re seeing the Obama administration not only segregating faith, but imposing the Government’s will on churches, Rick Santorum said on "Meet the Press," just one instance of many where GOP hopefuls implied that Barack Obama thinks anyone who believes in anything but the empirical (as Obama himself does) has successfully separated her butt from her proverbial rocker.
Unfortunately, the GOP hopefuls are merely politicizing the act of governing. Take the recent issue presented by the White House: church-run organizations required to provide healthcare, including birth control, to their employees. The field on the right claims that this directive indicated that the President is attacking faith in American (by, presumably, not allowing religious organizations to practice their strict practices) which is certainly possible – but what’s more likely is that the President is democratically attempting to move his constituents (US citizens) towards a collectively more healthful situation.
It’s inarguably a mess of a mess and layered in a way that will take more than eight hundred words to peel back, but it exemplifies how Democracy is a practice of logic and Faith is a practice of values. Logic we use to govern; values we use to choose those who govern.
Democracy is devoid of ethos in a sense that it’s only value is logic. Of course, the dozens of hotheaded lawmakers preaching from the House floor on CSPAN-2 will also vein-poppingly suggest (and, nearly without fail, suggest by quoting the US Declaration of Independence) that (US) Democracy’s ethos comprises such lofty ideals as Liberty and Freedom, which is kinda true but more-so it’s misleading; those ultimate ideals are goals that are achieved by the seminal logic.
It’s as misleading that faith and democracy can be reconciled in any system, meaning it’s not true for only Islamic faith and democracy; they are two completely disparate forces at play in two completely disparate levels of societies – the latter in what we want and the former in how we get it.
Sure they are forces that are unavoidably intertwined and necessary for functional societies and sovereign nations – that does not mean that, for example, faith can be used to make policy decisions; that you "feel something in your gut" or your heart or because your theism dictates it is no reason to govern with a certain style or create regulations in a certain directions.
By this argument, President Obama’s decision to move the aforementioned healthcare regulation to the table at this point, in this election year, is bad governing. As Andrew Sullivan said on Hardball last week, and as the Eleventh Draft has suggested previously, putting birth control at the fore-tongue of the national conversation forced Obama’s opponents further to the right. The bearded Sullivan told host Chris Matthews that the conservative outrage gave Rick Santorum ground to hail vitriol at the President, that he was attacking faith in America (how frequently have we heard this platitude) and that the basic principals upon which this country was founded were, at their core, also under attack and that ground buoyed Santorum above Mitt Romney in more than a few national polls. If those polls accurately predict voting, and Santorum gets the Republican nod, things would be looking very bright indeed for the Obama campaign in the general election.
Given, it was only bad governing if Obama made the decision in order to gain the political advantage Sullivan noted. If so, Obama forced democracy and faith into the same field, unnaturally, threatening not just democracy, but, yes, as Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, the pudgy womanizer from Georgia have all claimed with shaky urgency, faith as well.
THIS EPISODE ORIGINALLY AIRED ON 'THE ELEVENTH DRAFT' ON AUGUST 27, 2008.
All that we need to know about the election, we learned from “Guys and Dolls” in the first song, “Fugue for Tinhorns.”
Listen: "I got the horse right here.The name is Paul Revere.And here’s a guy that says, if the weather’s clear, can do.Can do.This guy says the horse can do."
The song goes on to talk about two other horses, Valentine and Epitaph, who can do – or, in less sing-songy language, can’t lose.If these three horses are running in the same race, this is a contradiction.Of course, the reality that has each of them winning the same race is in the future and, therefore, is still not necessarily inaccurate.
There is the idea of virtue within each of these future horses (even though it cannot be within each of these horses in the future), that virtue being specifically the idea of Victory that will attain fulfillment.Victory is therefore a Form, as Plato would say – e.g. a characteristic of something: a ball, a marble, a rabbit turd are all round.A rabbit turd is a particular that has many Forms.Also according to Plato and his World of Ideas, “Forms are said to be perfect and what particulars strive to be like but fall short of.”
Another way to think of this more simply is as fantasy, defined not as “an unrealistic idea” but as “that which a person wants to happen.”
In the latest issue of Newsweek, Robert Samuelson writes an insightful piece on The Rise of Fantasy Politics.Many, many other writers have covered this topic, citing that both the Obama and McCain plans for the economy are unrealistic and are very unlikely to be implemented.Samuelson takes it a step further.“Elections serve, in civics textbooks, to reach collective decisions about the future,” he writes. “The real world is different. Many campaign proposals are so unrealistic or undesirable that they may never be enacted… All this makes sense only as fantasy politics. Proposals aren't necessarily intended to be adopted. They're selected to win applause and please voters.”
Fantasy and expectation are the core of political campaigning, which makes irony the core of politics.Irony – a situation that is incongruous, often laughably so, with what one expected from reality – is perhaps an unfortunate but also intrinsically necessary consequence of politics.
According to Rod Lurie who wrote The Contender (2000), Napoleon once said there is paucity of great statesmen in the world because in order “to get power you need to display absolute pettiness; to exercise power, you need to show true greatness.”George H. W. Bush was an example of this point in 1988 when he proclaimed, "Read my lips: No new taxes."And a similar philosophy is attributed to Jimmy Carter who, when he was running for governor, told a civil rights leader, “You'll hate the way I run but you’ll love the way I govern.”
While Carter ran explicitly on the dichotomy of campaigning and governing, the entire Obama political message and underlying Form is based implicitly on that same dichotomy.
Hope and Change are ideas that are perpetually in the future and, therefore, are always fantasy.It is impossible to ever reach either of these ideas.We cannot reach Hope because Hope is always something that hasn't occured.Change cannot be reached because at present a Thing is whatever that Thing is; it has no other Form.And, if we look at it from the other side and assume that change is constant, that a Thing is continually changing, Change again is never achieved because it is always occurring. (I know that’s an annoying thing to say, sorry.)
Politicians, John McCain included, have always campaigned on fantasy.Nothing new.Consequentially, the goal of the voter should not be insight and dissection of promises, plans, ideas, etc.The goal of the voter should be to evaluate a candidate as a character, as an individual on a psychoanalytical level in order to ascertain what kind of person he or she is and how they will make their decisions in the future.
Fantasy politics is necessary.At best, Plans change constantly and serve simply as examples that a candidate knows what the fuck he’s doing.We all know that doesn’t mean he’ll do it.
Listen to what Robert Samuelson says again: “Elections serve, in civics textbooks, to reach collective decisions about the future.”More accurately, elections serve to reach a collective decision on how we will make decisions in the future.That’s why it’s so important to understand why John McCain allegedly latches on to the last thing that’s told to him before he makes a choice; that’s why it’s so important to understand why Obama wanted a vice president who would challenge him in the White House.
Who we are is a complex Form from which we cannot hide.
Obama makes no attempt to disguise that he is running on fantasy.He says Hope.He says Change.He says that he has the horse right here and, if you trust him, this horse can do.His ideas may not manifest the particulars that they promise, but they will manifest particulars that are good.
Listen: "I got the horse for ya.The name is Obama.And here’s a guy that says, if it’s Change you love, can do.Can do.This guy says the horse can do.If he says the horse can do…can do…can do…"
There should be a tacit understanding in the halls and offices at 1211 Sixth Ave. that, if you want to keep your job, you vote for Barack Obama over whomever his (ill-equipped) Republican opponent may be come Nov. 6, 2012.While ratings for the cable news channel slipped in 2011, it remains the most-watched of all cable news networks for the tenth year in a row (and #4 of all cable networks, thought not for year 10).
The reason: terror and coercion. The same tactics Nicolae Ceausescu used in the 1970s and 80s to mess with the minds of Romanians, are those used by Fox News to bait and trap, field-dress and wall-mount viewers. (If Glenn Beck compares democrats to Nazis over and over and over, why can’t I cite a more esoteric totalitarian state, perhaps in a more accurate (albeit less rhetorically effective (for various reasons, including the fact that more the demagogues talk about Nazis, the more fearsome Nazis become)) form?) It might stop short of brain-washing, but barely.
“Extremism and conflict make for bad politics but great TV,” David Frum (yes that David Frum) wrote in New York Mag. “The business model of the conservative media is built on two elements: provoking the audience into a fever of indignation (to keep them watching) and fomenting mistrust of all other information sources (so that they never change the channel).”
Without a foreign-born black Muslim in the White House, the ability of a cable news channel to broadcast fear and impending doom and pseudo-nostalgic loss all but evaporates. Sure the ratings for Fox News were down in 2011, but it still remained numero uno of cable news channels, where it has perched for the last ten years, precisely when Americans became marrow-deep, soggy-underpants terrified of anything outside our borders. Which, if I’m not being clear enough, is not a coincidence; there is an explicit art to nurturing and perpetuating fear that Fox News has mastered and President Obama is the network’s most versatile and convincing canvas for this televised exhibit.
What liberals forget in their indignation and incredulity with Bill O’Reilly, Beck, et alii is that Fox News is not an original thought. It’s more of a Reply All email, the original email being the increasingly sappy reporting by the major news networks during the first Clinton administration, the Send button hit in 1996 by Rupert Murdoch and the saggy jowls of Roger Ailes. The Fox New Channel might not be "fair" or "balanced" but you can't say that it doesn't create an overall cable news world that, taken as a whole, is both.
That's why I'm a fan of Fox News. That's why I watch Fox and Friends every morning. That's why, as former President William J. Clinton recently pointed out, the FNC business model works so well it’s being copied by the left in a kind of fight-fire-with-fire gambit.
“I was just watching MSNBC, and they had a woman that used to work for me and a couple of other people on there, and they were talking about the Republican primary,” Clinton told Esquire. “And I was laughing. I said, ‘Boy, it really has become our version of Fox.’ And I say that because…I think the breaking up of the media, which is otherwise kind of healthy, has contributed to less actual reporting and a louder, more contentious, more divisive public discourse, highlighting conflict, sometimes falsely.”
Not only is conflict highlighted (by “sometimes falsely,” I’m assuming the former commander-in-chief meant either that an actual disagreement didn’t exist in some cases, or, in some cases, one of the two sides (or both) was misrepresented), but every minutia of every story is given the gravitas and urgency of the 1969 moon landing.
Just now I was watching the channel, because it’s Sunday morning and on Sunday mornings I enjoy waking up to pomposity, when the violet-clad anchor turned to the story of a capsized cruise ship which was preceded with a shockingly bright intro-graphic that warned viewers to grab their loved ones and head for the nearest fall-out shelter because we’re on high ALERT.
Ok. Now call grandma back and tell her nevermind, gazillions of gaggles of green mutant zombie geese are not in fact migrating towards her Ft. Meyers condo at Boeing 767-level speeds after all.
It turns out the “ALERT!!!” was a another body found among the wreckage of a ship that rammed a reef over a week ago, which makes me excited to see what kinda hyperbolic fireworks and noise-makers they pull out for the mutant zombie geese when they finally come because trust me they will and it will be because you voted for a radical, turban-toting, communist for US President in 2008 and ruined this country irreparably and forever.
If you work for Fox News, you should vote for him again cause mind-altering goose venom and Obamacare’s obvious inability to abate the impending pandemic are absolutely great for ratings.
Jan 6, 2012: More Jobs Mean Nothing; Fewer Jobs Mean Everything
Jobless numbers were released to the press at 8:30am ET on Friday: lowest unemployment in 3 years, 8.5%; the U.S. added an unexpected 200,000 jobs in December, yanking the percentage of people in the workforce who are out of work down by 0.2% in a month.
Mitt Romney was unimpressed. He said in the debate this week:
“What I blame [Obama] for is having it go on so long and going so deep and having a recover that’s been so tepid. Businesses I’ve talked to all over the country that would have been hiring people are not hiring, and I ask them why, and they say because they look at the polices of this administration and they feel like they’re under attack.”
If Romney were elected President in 2008 – and he came so so close – everyone would have had jobs at Staples by March.
“All of this makes for a reality of a president who has been anti-investment, anti-jobs, anti-business,” Romney went on.
Call me a liberal, leftist, lefty, socialist pansy for writing things like this – but: that makes as much sense as claiming that a mother hates her son if she tries to talk him into taking out loans to get a college education.
Obama hates America so much, must be secretly planning a tactical nuclear strike on Wisconsin. I’m sure of it.
Nov 15, 2011: Obama on Tour
Can’t remember where I heard or saw this, but it amused me, so I wrote it in the trusy BlackBerry.
"I've got some stuff I'd like to try out," Obama said. "I want to see what the reaction is."
President Obama was talking about his anticipation of hitting the road again for The 2012 Campaign of Comedy where, evediently, he tries out his latest and greatest “Mitt’s Momma is soooo Fat…” jokes a Larry’s Lounge of Laughs in Peoria, IL, perfecting his delivery and set list before moving to larger venues in the swing states.
Let the hilarity ensue!
Oct 30, 2011: Entering Hog Heaven
Here’s the BB entry: “Leaving Hog Heaven and ‘eat mor chikin’ commercials...weird morbid thinking about carnivores. What would cannibal ads be?”
Here’s the photo:
Here’s the thought: Does anyone else think it’s weird, like creepy weird, that we anthropomorphize the animals we eat?
Chic-fil-A, a chain of fast-food restaurants that deals exclusively (and deliciously) in chicken, runs an ad campaign in which cows travel around pulling stunts encouraging people to “Eat Mor Chikin,” meaning that they (the cows) have a homosapien self-awareness of the bovidae family being slaughtered by the dozens for American dinner tables, as well as the dexterity to turn on light switches and steer (get it?) parachutes into football stadiums, but oddly lack either the will or ability to fight back in any way other than the bovine equivalent of flash mobs. (They also spell at a first grade-level, for what it’s worth.)
The Hog Heaven sign hangs in a bar called Brother Jimmy’s near Union Square, NYC. There they serve up northern, southern or dry rub ribs, St. Louis style half rack of ribs, rib tips (by the bucket), sliced brisket, Carolina pulled pork (platter or sandwich or wrap) and the Brother Jimmy’s Cuban, which comprises sliced smoked pork, buckboard bacon, gruyere cheese and fried pickles. Oh. And black eyed peas – with bacon.
The implication is that when you exit Brother Jimmy’s Union Square you are leaving the place that swine go in the little piggy afterlife, which is, of course, quite literal, but probably not what the pigs had in mind. Let’s face it, those of us that believe in “heaven” don’t, in all likelihood, imagine our paradisiacal next step as a cannibalistic BBQ joint where people with bones in their lower lips hang out, munching on what used to be our collective right hamstring, trading laughs beneath a sign that reads “Y’ALL NOW LEAVING HUMAN HEAVEN.”
While I haven’t written (or had the time or the energy or the drive to write) I’ve been collecting ideas for topics for the last few months on my BlackBerry as I roam about.I would now like to make an effort to catch up on the those months by listing (sic) the ideas I thumbed into the little device and what a portion of the essay would have been, had I had the parenthetically aforementioned motivators.I’ll try to do these three at a time, over the course of a few days, beginning with the most recent and working my way to October 2011.
Dec 23, 2011: Karl Rove telling Reps to cave and accept the Senate extension of the tax cuts
The latest example of why people who are either a) retarded or b) fucking crazy should be disinvited to the party on Capitol Hill. Rove told Fox News that Republicans in the House needed to accept the two month extension of the payroll tax cut because some in the party had “lost the optics on it.”
Two days earlier, Speaker John Boehner blocked a Senate proposal to extend, even though he earlier backed the prop, because some of the more conservative (a term that is rapidly becoming a word synonymous not with traditional, level-headed, structured as it has been and should be, but with extremist, bull-headed, unstable) members of the GOP vowed to revolt. Call them Tea Party-ers, call them Ultra-Conservatives, call them hard-liners – these people who refuse to rationally negotiate (and sometimes accept things they aren’t too please with; the characteristic that differentiates a negotiation from a browbeating) make me want to keep Barney Frank around for another six years just so he can tell them
Dec 10, 2011: Why do people have trouble drawing lines? Baby not born till it passes the vulva? Kiki and fucking animals? And ACLU Allen Lichtenstein on Atlantic Monthly article?
This was a reminder to write about the limits at which things change, or at which people think things change and their inability to agree on the moment one thing becomes another (not their inability sketch straight lines, as I first thought when I read it a second time, this morning). The birth thing is a frustration with how certain people have trouble distinguishing when a human becomes alive (which is as absurd as an inability to distinguish when someone’s dead, as if there a stages: developmentally dead, mostly dead, dead dead).
And the rather off-putting Kiki thing is my friend Kiki who, when Prop 8 passed in California, said, “Of course it passed; if you allow people of the same gender to marry, when does it end? Can people marry 12 year olds? Family members? Animals?
The latest confounded attempted obfuscation came at the hands of the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been trying to block the creation of something called “veterans courts” at which former military service men and women are tried, convicted, sentenced and rehabilitated outside of the mainstream legal system.The programs have been operating for about two years now and, while there so far are not any definitive success-rate numbers, “by and large, the courts have reported little recidivism,” according to the Atlantic Monthly. The ACLU has tried to block the creation of veterans courts, claiming they’re some sorta form of elitism – because a person who commits a petty crime after spending 12-15 months in brutal, uncivilized, psychologically scarring conditions, fighting for the (ostensible, but still) perpetuity of the American civil system that will, as a thank you, rush them through a criminal court, sentencing them to a 60 days in Folsom without peer support or counseling and therefore initiating a cycle of criminal behavior that will continue until death or the same court just says fuck it and hands down a life sentence – that person is exactly the same as some drunk jackhole who parks his pickup halfway into the candy aisle of the BP.
“We’re not against diversionary programs, but the idea of an entirely different court system based on status doesn’t make sense,” says Allen Lichtenstein, general counsel of the ACLU of Nevada. “Does that mean a police officer who is accused of a crime should have a separate court because of his stress?"
My guess is Mr. Lichtenstein never served win an infantry unit on the front line.
Dec 1, 2011: Obama Should Box Out
Finally: I wrote this note on the subway, heading home from Manhattan, reading GodKnowsWhat. It was reactionary, making the “GodKnowsWhat” part a bit of a problem. Regardless, the sentiment was this:
The game that Obama needs to play in order to win is also one of the most effective gambits of his favorite sport: boxing out you opponents.
The GodKnowsWhat article was talking about Newt Gingrich’s stance on illegal immigrants and how, in order to get that crazy right, fringe vote, he has been curling in on the borderline amnesty (no pun) talk and going harder on the deportation talk.Obama should encourage this; he should box his opponents further and further right.
This is not a defensive move. As anyone who has played even a high school gym class game of basketball knows, boxing out is a brutal display of muscle and brilliant use of momentum and position. In order to win, Obama has to take up more and more real estate on the right; he has to push his opponents, starting now, further and further over into the hands of the Tea Party theocrats (be honest, that’s what they are). Obama will win the 2012 general election precisely because he isn’t liberal enough for the bloody liberals (who were dumb enough to see a black man instead of a candidate in 2008, just as they were to see a young man instead of a candidate in 1960) and the great majority of American citizens aren’t stupid enough to believe that immigrants’ participation in the United States marketplace reduces their economic well-being. I hope.
What people commented on, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg when he took the podium at 8:44am, was that the day was clear just like the Tuesday ten years ago. From what people can remember. For those few hours of thin daylight before the late morning sun was choked gray by 200,000 tons of steel, 425,000 cubic yards of concrete, 43,600 windows, tumbling horribly, devastatingly toward the earth in downtown Manhattan.
Mayor Bloomberg spoke of the lives lost, aptly quoting Shakespeare: “Let us not measure our sorrow by their worth, for then it will have no end.”
Exactly at 8:46am, the time the first plane hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center in 2001, those at Ground Zero observed a moment of silence. That silence seemed, today, to resound around Manhattan. Streets were closed, tourists were sparse, Grand Central Station was almost laconic.That tangible grayness ten years ago is an emotional grayness that clings to the city today, on the conversations, the memories, to the steps of pedestrians, on each note of“America the Beautiful” from the bells of the Catholic Church on Park Avenue played out at 12:09pm.
The shock and the anger and the abject incredulity are still a little raw, even after a decade.
“I cried thinking about the New Canaan train station filled with cars that would be left unspoken for and I cry now,” one woman wrote on Facebook. Another said, “10 years ago I woke up planning to go to Tower Records on 72nd St after math class to buy the Glitter soundtrack... and then a whole lot of things got put into perspective.” And another, “So searing it seems like it was yesterday – we will never forget.”
I imagine those feelings, for most of us, will never scab and never ameliorate. They can’t. They can’t because we will never have answers satisfactory enough to consummate healing. I, personally, will never get used to the moments of silence.
Looking over the faces of those presents at Ground Zero this morning, taking in that moment of silence, some with heads bowed, some with eyes lids drawn, some staring lugubriously into the inches of air before them, you couldn’t help but wonder what particular memories were going through their minds when they thought about the loss of a friend or family member.
You couldn’t help but wonder if Barack Obama stood tall with the pride of successfully hunting and killing Osama bin Laden.Was he imagining those moments when CIA briefed him and those moments when he had to decide which course of action to take?A decision that, were it the wrong one, would cut back into the wound those who lost at Ground Zero felt, and, were it the right one, would hardly begin to help heal.
And what about President George W. Bush? Why did he look so small, weathered, beaten? Does he think back to that Florida classroom and that children’s book and the moment the agent whispered into his ear that the United States of America was under the largest foreign attack since Pearl Harbor? Does he feel sorrow, anger, regret?
Following the ceremony, the New York Times couldn’t help but comment on the politics of the situation.
“Unlike Mr. Obama, Mr. Bush drew a brief cheer from the crowd before his reading. Applause also followed Mr. Bush as he left the stage,” the Times nodded.
The Times isn’t wrong to bring politics into this.As much as we want to keep it out, to shame those who would stoop to even hinting at using tragedy as demagoguery or gambit, in the basic level that politics is getting people to do what you want (ideally, philosophically what you think is best for them), while the US has in some ways succeed in fighting the terrorist that attacked New York City ten years ago, we’ve done little to change the way people feel about a place know as the Land of the Free.
“More worrying, some experts say, the administration has yet to figure out how to effectively counter Al Qaeda’s propaganda,” according to the Times. “It has failed to prevent a small but growing number of Americans from becoming radicalized, often by listening to online videos by militants like the American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, now in hiding in Yemen.”
What’s heavier and grayer and more dangerous than weapons and arms getting into the wrong hands in Korengal Valley, is that.It’s that the Idea that propelled those planes into those towers is still out there.It’s that the people are still afraid.It’s that the bright blue sky this morning is not the only thing that’s the same as it was ten years ago.
It’s more than disheartening to admit that I am my generation. I have difficulty writing and researching without the immediate, ever-present crutch of an internet connection (high speed; the browser on my mobile phone is as infuriating as sitting twenty minutes at a diner on Sunday morning without being offered a coffee (1)). It’s because I’m ill-prepared, as again are many of us. Were we to take John Steinbeck’s Rocinante out for a spin today, it’s likely we’d run out of supplies or patience by Buffalo, N.Y., I’d imagine at the point Customs refused to let our large blue poodle pass, or divagate from the point entirely and wind up in Nova Scotia or, heaven forbid, Tulum.
The on-the-fly researching accomplice of the internet is both the reason for and the cause of my often labyrinthical divergence – much like the surfeit of entertainment options is the reason for and cause of the waning collective attention span. e.g. Since the last paragraph, I’ve spent a good quarter-hour snooping around for the meaning of (the etymology being quite clear) Rocinante; although I’ve said the term in my head many times (never pronouncing it correctly, I’m sure) I realized I didn’t know exactly what it meant or why Mr. Quixote chose such a name for his horse. (2)
One author – and I can’t, ironically or not, be bothered with the internet enough to search for who – once said that he wrote exclusively without a web connection because the damned thing was always taking him to places he didn’t want to be.
This author was someone old. Someone like John Updike or Norman Mailer or someone like that, but not like Burroughs or Bellow or Roth – although, thinking about it, it could have been Roth. It really doesn’t matter. I cannot write without a connection to everything else; perhaps because my mind requires Tarzan vines with which to swing from topic to topic and is otherwise fallow of a sprout of inspiration.
But there’s more. There’s the job that pays me (3). But that’s my weakness for letting it consume me or not being good enough at it to be able to consummate tasks required without utter and constant concentration. Kafka, among others who were not of some sort of professorial vocation that gave them the unique luxury of time to do their work like a waitress who is really an actress, were rumored to have overcome such trite inconveniences.
There’s also the interior design (which at this moment hits a little close to “the job that pays me”). There’s the apartment without the internet connection that is also without desk, something that I didn’t think I’d miss until, as I am right now, I sat hunched over a coffee table and keyboard not realizing how much pain my lumbar was in until well into the second hour of hunch.
I left the desk in Los Angeles.I sold it, more accurately; but it stayed there all the same.
The desk was good. Like Hemmingway good. Not like something Earnest Hemmingway would sit at to write (I always imagine he wrote longhand in well lighted cafes, for obvious reasons) but something that he would call good if he were describing the room in which I use to sit to write. viz. (were Earnest H. to have actually written about my Los Angeles living room) I opened the door to the apartment and looked around at the furniture placed throughout the room in a deliberate pattern.There was a couch, half over a large sisal rug and a bookshelf against the far wall. Next to the end table was an old stained maple desk. It was good desk (4).
The desk is replaced by an older back that aches more than it should from hunching for two hours.It’s that, and the spotty connection and the other thing.
I’ve realized this little nugget is, just as dishearteningly as the generation note, more personal and less pithy than I prefer to write. And, in that case anyway, I probably shouldn’t post it. It’s not worthy of publishing, honestly, at any level. But the entire design of this exercise is that nothing is and everything is worthy.Like another now dead author once said in an interview, I'm not trying to hide my gaucheries.
1) I also refuse to capitalize internet or web for the same reasons I’d never capitalize earth or community.
We would spend hours arguing the finer and broader points of global warming, from a single flap of a butterfly’s wings to the ontological basics. To maintain and advance the argument, it was obviously necessary that one of us took and obstinately sometimes against better logic stood by the opposite side of the others.
As my friends and I sat in the Upper East Side condo years ago, I didn’t exactly understand why we did this and why we had to until I read a sentence in Michael Lewis’ “The Big Short.”
Lewis wrote about a investment fund manager named Mike Burry who was the first person to ask Wall Street to create credit default swaps on mortgage backed bonds so that he could but the CDSs and bet against the bonds.Burry came to the idea after realizing the loans lower middle class Americans were receiving bordered, if not completely dove head-first into fraud.Burry was a value investor, usually long stocks and so when he decided to short bonds, the people that gave him hundreds of millions of dollars to fuck around with started to ask him to please explain himself.
"I hated discussing ideas with investors,” he said, “because I then become a Defender of the Idea, and that influences your thought process.”
What he was saying was, once he has to defend a position, it is no longer this is the best idea; it is if I don’t make this the best idea, I lose.
This was the same social trend within our global warming debate, as it’s the same social trend in politics and in punditry.No matter how unsound your argument is, you will go at great lengths to make it appear sound once you become its Defender, even if that argument isn’t specific, even if that argument is always fighting against someone.
I heard this mind-bending argument roll out in a three-way converfuck on Fox & Friends this morning:
a)Companies are going where there are cheaper labor costs. b)Three big tech companies have operations overseas: Apple, Google, Facebook. c)The CEOs of these companies have met with the US President, therefore: d)The CEOs of these companies must have advised the President at one point or another, so: e)The President doesn’t listen to what his top CEO advisers say f)The CEOs can’t convince the government/President to keep jobs here. g)The US President does not want Americans to have jobs.
At the end of this clearly scripted pile of horse diarrhea, the moderator for Fox & Friends closed with, “Good debate,” which is like telling your right hand “Good game” after jerking off into your football helmet.
I can’t even count how many logical fallacies there are in that argument; I find a new one each time I read through.The big glaring-ass ones are: Affirming the consequent that companies are going overseas for cheaper labor, denying the antecedent that the CEOs gave the President advice (and a specific advice) simply because they met with him; and, the non sequitur that a United States President would chose to explicitly injure the economy he leads.
Now, I’ve heard a number of people claim that they’re not partisan one way or the other. They are issues people. They vote based on a candidate’s promise to lower taxes or criminalize abortions or withdraw troops.Fact is that, once in office, once with all information in hand, any candidate might slide back on any issue, which means you can’t always trust the arguments, promises and issues of candidates running for US president.
Rather than issues (or, I’ll allow along with issues; if we elect someone who promises everyone a pony and then actually delivers, eh, might have trouble), perhaps it’s more important to base our individual votes on the character and intelligence of the candidate, rather than simply saying she is for gay marriage, so she’s the best candidate.*
Bill Clinton said something last week that was taken a bit lightly, a bit as though he were joking, but what he said, while it evoked giggles, is not short on truth or utility.
“Huntsman hasn't said what he's for yet, but I just kind of like him,” said Clinton in Colorado prompting a round of laughter. “He looks authentic – he looks like a real guy. I mean, a real human being. I like his family. I like his kind of iconoclastic way. And he was a pretty good governor. And he wasn't a right-wing ideologue.”
Clinton wasn’t being sardonic. He meant what he said: he just has a good feeling about this Huntsman guy.
So do I.If I were forced to vote now and select a GOP candidate, it would be Jon Huntsman.I actually know that he is moderate on gay marriage and sides more with those who say humans have some sort of effect on climate change, but more than that: he just seems a good guy.
Of course, four years ago John Edwards seemed like a good guy and then he started screwing anything holding a Flipcam.So…you know…
*This qualifies not just for POTUS, but for any elected official, although we don’t have access or time for any elected official as we have for the president. (Also: I realize that we derive character and intelligence by hearing someone speak or watching her act and handle important policies and issues; it’s true that there is no duality.)