Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Welcome Back, Mitt

Once a popular moderate voice, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney began to shed many of his more liberal stances in 2004 as he geared up for a presidential run. Back then, George Bush had illuminated the path to victory for a national Republican-- run hard to the right on divisive issues and pursue 51% of the electorate.

Campaigns start so early that it is easy for candidates to misjudge electoral winds, and those who craft their message based exclusively on what the people want to hear seem to invariably fall into this pitfall. As it happened, the failure of Bush's second term meant Romney badly overplayed his conservative hand in a year Republicans ultimately nominated a moderate voice.

In today's political climate, where Republicans debate their party's direction, Romney-insiders have said he is "troubled" by the politics of VP- nominee Sarah Palin. It seems that Romney realizes that if he's to be successful he must play to his own strengths, which, as a former wildly successful CEO and venture capitalist, are on the economic front.

To that end, he authored an editorial in today's New York Times (that elitist rag so reviled by Governor Palin & co). In it, Romney suggests that what Detroit's big- three automakers need isn't a bailout, but a complete re-structuring that bankruptcy would afford.

His prescription is threefold:

  1. Eliminate their disadvantage relative to foreign competitors through new labor agreements. Romney claims that excessive labor and retirement benefits cost US automakers $2000/car.
  2. Overhaul current management. Romney seeks to end the enmity between labor and management through less salary and more stock for executives, and fewer luxuries and direct communication with workers as well. It's a strategy used by Romney's father (former Michigan governor, George), who turned around American Motors in the '60s.
  3. Invest in the industry's future, with government assistance. The government should increase investment on fuel technology five-fold (to $20bn), and partner with private enterprises to increase R&D for innovation.

It is nice to see Romney advocating solutions, and it makes one think of what would have happened if the economic crisis had come at a different point in the presidential campaign. Regardless, Republicans should look to men and women of his stature and expertise as the party attempts to regain credibility with the American people. That assumes, however, Romney will save his breath for issues that really matter to him and the lives of other Americans.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Will Gets Pwn'd

From ABC's This Week via the Huffington Post:

On ABC's This Week, conservative pundit George Will took up the case against Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal, arguing that it sent confusing signals to capitalists (who apparently might otherwise have pursued lucrative deals in the 1930s market place) and turned a depression into the Great Depression.

Thankfully, Nobel laureate Paul Krugman was around to remind Will of some history -- that the economy improved after the New Deal, and that it was FDR's attempt to balance the budget in 1937 (a move favored now by many conservatives) that then cut into that progress.

You Betcha! Horrifying T-Shirt

If you want four-plus more years of faux- folksy divisive and empty rhetoric (and honestly-- who doesn't?) then Busted tees has your shirt.

We can only imagine the charm, sophistication and prowess that Governor Palin will exude when she's not held back by the elists of the McCain camp, and is paired instead with the ultimate "Real American" (TM).

Quote of the Day 11/17

Bob Hope delivers this classic one- liner in 1940's The Ghost Breakers.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Can They? Pic of the Day 11/14

Following last night's 34-31 overtime win over their rival Patriots, Jets fans are feeling pretty optimistic about their future. Check out the pic a friend of mine emailed out under the subject line:


Alternate Universe Electoral Maps

This is pretty cool. Based on exit polls, the Washington Independent offers a look at how the electoral college would have shaken out if only certain voters counted.

Age 65 & Older:

White voters:



Self- described political moderates:

Registered independents:

College Graduates:

Voters earning under $50k a year:

Voters earning over $50k a year:

Voters who are "worried about economic conditions":

Voters whose "most important issue" was the economy:

Voters whose most important issue was the war in Iraq:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

BC 17 ND 0

I'd be remiss if I let the week slip by without mentioning the annual "Holy War" (or the Chris Meehan Bowl, if you prefer)-- the football game between the only two Catholic schools playing big time college football: Boston College and Notre Dame.

For the 6th straight time, Boston College triumphed, thanks to defensive efforts like this:

The all time series is now even at 9-9.

No word on whether there's any truth to the rumor that the Fighting Irish will change their name to the Fighting Doberman Pincher Genitalia...

Gore on "Clean" Coal, Drilling, Nuclear

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

50 Things You May Not Know About Your President- Elect

Courtesy of the London Telegraph:

• He collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics

• He was known as "O'Bomber" at high school for his skill at basketball

• His name means "one who is blessed" in Swahili

• His favourite meal is wife Michelle's shrimp linguini

• He won a Grammy in 2006 for the audio version of his memoir, Dreams From My Father

• He is left-handed – the sixth post-war president to be left-handed

• He has read every Harry Potter book

• He owns a set of red boxing gloves autographed by Muhammad Ali

• He worked in a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop as a teenager and now can't stand ice cream

• His favourite snacks are chocolate-peanut protein bars

• He ate dog meat, snake meat, and roasted grasshopper while living in Indonesia

• He can speak Spanish

• While on the campaign trail he refused to watch CNN and had sports channels on instead

• His favourite drink is black forest berry iced tea

• He promised Michelle he would quit smoking before running for president – he didn't

• He kept a pet ape called Tata while in Indonesia

• He can bench press an impressive 200lbs

• He was known as Barry until university when he asked to be addressed by his full name

• His favourite book is Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

• He visited Wokingham, Berks, in 1996 for the stag party of his half-sister's fiancé, but left when a stripper arrived

• His desk in his Senate office once belonged to Robert Kennedy

• He and Michelle made $4.2 million (£2.7 million) last year, with much coming from sales of his books

• His favourite films are Casablanca and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

• He carries a tiny Madonna and child statue and a bracelet belonging to a soldier in Iraq for good luck

• He applied to appear in a black pin-up calendar while at Harvard but was rejected by the all-female committee.

• His favourite music includes Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Bach and The Fugees

• He took Michelle to see the Spike Lee film Do The Right Thing on their first date

• He enjoys playing Scrabble and poker

• He doesn't drink coffee and rarely drinks alcohol

• He would have liked to have been an architect if he were not a politician

• As a teenager he took drugs including marijuana and cocaine

• His daughters' ambitions are to go to Yale before becoming an actress (Malia, 10) and to sing and dance (Sasha, 7)

• He hates the youth trend for trousers which sag beneath the backside

• He repaid his student loan only four years ago after signing his book deal

• His house in Chicago has four fire places

• Daughter Malia's godmother is Jesse Jackson's daughter Santita

• He says his worst habit is constantly checking his BlackBerry

• He uses an Apple Mac laptop

• He drives a Ford Escape Hybrid, having ditched his gas-guzzling Chrysler 300

• He wears $1,500 (£952) Hart Schaffner Marx suits

• He owns four identical pairs of black size 11 shoes

• He has his hair cut once a week by his Chicago barber, Zariff, who charges $21 (£13)

• His favourite fictional television programmes are Mash and The Wire

• He was given the code name "Renegade" by his Secret Service handlers

• He was nicknamed "Bar" by his late grandmother

• He plans to install a basketball court in the White House grounds

• His favourite artist is Pablo Picasso

• His speciality as a cook is chilli

• He has said many of his friends in Indonesia were "street urchins"

• He keeps on his desk a carving of a wooden hand holding an egg, a Kenyan symbol of the fragility of life

• His late father was a senior economist for the Kenyan government

Friday, November 7, 2008

Someone I Recognize

There are certain things that I've come to know in life. Dominicans, on average, can cut the best hair, due to the diversity in hair texture that comes from having such a rich, diverse ethnic background. I know that bus drivers have the capability to multitask at the highest level: they have to drive a two to three ton vehicle that is difficult to navigate, answer an array of questions from riders, keep a tab on who owes what, and be responsive to the stop bell that may ring at any given moment - all at the same time. I know that the best way to keep a parking spot in the midst of a blizzard is to place a lawn chair there - duh. I know that Jamaicans make the best roti wraps and that an Irish girl's freckles will illuminate in the July sun quite radiantly. I know all this and more because I'm a big city boy, and I love it.

Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska made a point this past election season of expounding upon the values of small towns. She would know, as she's from a small town and governed in one. But hers was a cynical Us-Versus-Them point; small town values are true and sincere, as opposed to...

Well, with the election of Barack Obama, I can say that I am truly proud to be an American. Not because we elected a Black man. But because we elected a guy I can identify with. From a big city, with big city values and traditions, highly educated and genuinely intellectual, intensely cosmopolitan and having a perspective that comes from living and working and eating and breathing among an array of people who come from all over the world. In my lifetime, I never thought that America would ever elect a liberal Robert F. Kennedy would recognize. I always thought it was an Alan Sorkin dream, and nothing more, that America would elect a man of the machine. It is my honor to say I was dead wrong.

Big city values are not about being "tolerant" of homosexual people, but it's about recognizing them and saying vaya con dios. Big city values are the ironic relationships between entire groups and individuals: we'll have our prejudices about Puerto Ricans, Asians, Jews, et cetera, but I'll defend Lopez, Tran and Toss to the death if need be. Big city folks value eliticism, because we recognize it as a step up for our kids from where we are now. We don't look at an Ivy League school's acceptance letter and say "No way, son. This is too elitist for you". Our parents cry at the news, look for every opportunity to let the world know their kid's an Ivy Leaguer and, of course, get the decals. Big cities value hard work, social activism and religious observances.

Whether I got the day off of school because it was either MLK Day or "some Jewish holiday" (Rosh Hashanah), my life's enriched by the contributions of people who etched a niche in a place that was accepting but not forgiving; livable but hard. Maybe it is that I am the son of immigrants that I am willing to take solace in a Haitian taxi driver's dream and vision, along with a Nigerian math teacher's upbringing and travels. It's a splendid thing to grow up amidst a mass transit that sucks, a beautiful looking harbor so polluted that it's seriously not a joke to tell someone you gave them water from there, or Black cops who perfectly practice racial profiling. No one ever said life was perfect.

President-Elect Obama traveled to many places before making Chicago his home. He had to play the game to rise, hence the association with Reverend Jeremiah Wright. He registered thousands of residents to vote with liberal people that were even more passionate than him, hence the association with Bill Ayers. He attended top tier schools in some of the worlds finest cities. His liberalism is sharpened because he knows to analyze, then synthesize information in order to come to a conclusion both opponents and the other side can respect. Mr. Obama doesn't apologize for his parts nor their sum. He's strong and deliberate, even in his nuances. He's a city guy, wutchu thought?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What a Difference 4 Years Can Make, Let Alone 40

On August 28, 1968, inside of Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois, what took place came to be known as the “Police Riot.” The day began with 10,000 protestors rallying in a youth festival set to coincide with the Democratic National Convention that summer. Different interest groups were there supporting causes like the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam. Details from the actual day are sketchy at best, but what ensued was a brawl between the mob and the police, tear gas administered into the crowd, and an assault in front of the Hilton Hotel for 17 minutes captured by network television. Hubert H. Humphrey, George McGovern and Eugene McCarthy were still battling to see who would win the nomination for the presidency, in large part because Robert Kennedy had been assassinated in June. The Democratic Party was divided, it was embarrassed, and it was about to be routed three months later in the general election by a former vice president, Richard Nixon.

That year, 1968, was a turbulent year in our nation’s history. There was a lot more bad than good that occurred in the United States. For one, Americans were still thoroughly engaged in the war in Southeast Asia and the Tet Offensive had failed that winter, probably the main reason that LBJ decided not to run as the incumbent in November. Then Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot dead in a Memphis hotel in April, followed by Robert Kennedy two months later in Los Angeles. Rioting, protests and arrests transpired repeatedly throughout the year. It was a revolutionary time.

Four years ago today, I spent the entire night drinking tea and coffee trying to ward off sleep in order to find out who was going to run the country for the next four years. I was in my dorm in the Netherlands doing a semester abroad and because of the time zone difference I passed out at close to 8AM and they were still counting votes in Ohio. When I woke up and turned on my computer I realized that I was going to have to endure another four years of an imperious, yet bungling Bush administration. I had spent the weeks leading up to the election reassuring my newly-made international friends that Americans couldn’t possibly be naïve enough to reelect an imbecile. But it turned out that I was the naïve one; I was the imbecile.

Two weeks earlier, I was in Brugge visiting the quaint town in the Flemish section of Belgium. I decided to check out one of the local bars and try some of Belgium’s renowned beers. On a line to get some food, a couple of locals heard me speaking English so they decided to initiate a verbal tirade against me including every disparaging word they could think of about George W. Bush, but that was per usual. Then later at the bar, I met an American girl who was visiting Belgium, but was coming from Paris where she had permanently relocated. Curious as to why someone would come to study in France and decide to just stay in the country for good, I inquired as to the reason. She told me that the conservative trend in the US terrified her. I asked her if she would ever consider moving back and she told me that it was looking really bleak, but the only hope for that was the black man running for senator in the state Illinois. She said that if Barack Obama ever wins the presidency, she would come back to this country. I had heard of Obama because of the convention speech. But in my mind, my thought of randomly meeting this girl again in the US went from improbable to non-existent.

Last night, I fell asleep at approximately 10PM when Obama hadn’t clinched the election; however, he had a commanding lead and it was all but a certainty that he would win. I woke up two hours later at midnight to the booming, rhythmic voice of the new president-elect. CNN was broadcasting his victory speech from Grant Park in Chicago, Illinois. His speech was fabulous as always, but I couldn’t stop thinking of the irony that the same exact spot that had seen the riot that ripped apart the Democratic Party 40 years earlier was hosting the victory speech of the most unifying presidential election for Democrats in 32 years. Not since 1976 had a Democrat won more than 50% of the popular vote in the country. This was an outright slaughter. Only 46 years ago, they had to ratify the 24th amendment to the Constitution to prevent states from disenfranchising black Americans and keep them from voting in elections. Now a black American had won the presidency.

I’m not one of the “Yes We Can”, Ra-Ra Obama disciples. I don’t pretend to know that he will just kick his feet back in his chair in the oval office with a White Sox jersey on and his I-pod on shuffle and fix the country’s many distinct crises of today. What I do know is that yesterday’s result was a significant step for racial relations and a quantum leap in the right direction for the future of government in this country. And even if you’re a skeptic like I am, you have to ask yourself this question, what a difference 4 years can make, let alone 40? Four years ago, I barely knew who Obama was. All I thought I knew was that a black man couldn’t win the presidency. Forty years ago, pioneers for peace like Dr. King were being shot in the street. In January, Barack Obama will become the 44th President of the United States. So how far can we go in the next four years, let alone 40?


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Thoughts and Predictions for Tonight

Here are some thoughts and predictions on the eve of the election:

  • Barack Obama will win big, 364- 174. The swing states he'll carry will be Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. McCain will carry Indiana, Montana and North Dakota.

  • Southern Florida reminds me a lot of South Bend, Indiana with better weather.

  • The Democrats will fall a seat shy of a 60- seat filibuster proof majority.

  • The people of Florida have showed uncommon patience, waiting up to four hours to vote early, with lines wrapped around the block.

  • After Tuesday night, Sarah Palin will mercifully recede from public view for a few months. Soon, though, we'll start to read the inevitable stories of her listening tour or some major speech that she's giving in Iowa or New Hampshire.

  • The words of congratulations and thanks that Barack Obama gives President Bush during his Inauguration on January 20, 2009 will be one for the Awkward Moments Record book.

  • I wish there was a way to see the look on Sean Hannity's face when Chief Justice Roberts gives Obama the Oath of Office ("I Barack Hussein Obama do solemnly swear...")

  • Obama will need to hit the ground running with his legislative agenda, because he'll almost certainly lose seats in 2010. But let's not think about that right now, and just enjoy tonight...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Olbermann gets his (kind of)

Ben Affleck hosted SNL this past weekend and did a pretty funny impression of Keith Olbermann. It's about time they did a send-up of him, check it out below. This time the target of Keith's uncontrollable ire isn't Hillary Clinton or George Bush, but the president of his Condo board:

As a bonus here's the opening featuring John and Cindy McCain and Tina Fey doing Sarah Palin. Mercifully that impression should be retired this week.