Thursday, September 27, 2007

13: That's the Lucky Number

The Yankees win! Last night the worlds best sports team made the post season for the 13th straight year thanks in large part t #13 Alex Rodriquez. Many doubted that we could come back after such a terrible start, but I remember 1978 and knew that if anyone could stage a comeback my Yankees could. The champagne was flowing, Joe Torre was crying and I got my playoff tickets - so all is good in the Yankee Universe today!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Media Manipulation: Clinton Style

I'm a supporter of Barack Obama but have not been a Hillary Hater. Stuff like this will turn me into one however.

Early this summer, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign for president learned that the men’s magazine GQ was working on a story the campaign was sure to hate: an account of infighting in Hillaryland. So Clinton’s aides pulled a page from the book of Hollywood publicists and offered GQ a stark choice: Kill the piece, or lose access to planned celebrity coverboy Bill Clinton. Despite internal protests, GQ editor Jim Nelson met the Clinton campaign’s demands, which had been delivered by Bill Clinton’s spokesman, Jay Carson, several sources familiar with the conversations said.

The campaign’s transaction with GQ opens a curtain on the Clinton campaign’s hard-nosed media strategy, which is far closer in its unromantic view of the press to the campaigns of George W. Bush than to that of Bill Clinton’s free-wheeling 1992 campaign. The spiked GQ story also shows how the Clinton campaign has been able to use its access to the most important commodity in media — celebrity, and in fact two bona fide celebrities — to shape not just what gets written about the candidate, but also what doesn’t.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bush puts Republican principle over the American People (again)

The current fight over the SCHIP program which provides health insurance for children is a perfect example of how Republican Ideologues are tearing out the heart and soul of this nation. President Bush and "conservatives" will reject a bill coming out of Congress because it does not fit in with their grand theory that private business (in this case, those fine folks in the insurance industry) should be given preference over .. well ...just about anything (in this case those pesky kids that need to see a doctor). They believe that if kids have to go without health insurance it's their own fault for being born in a country that doesn't have the sense to elect Representatives that agree with the right wing view of how the world should be run. I simply don't understand how people hang on so tight to theories (which have a poor record of success anyway) and are willing to ignore the great harm it does to the most vulnerable people in the country. This controversy is only one example of how Republican politicians push through their grand theories while the citizens of this once great nation (and people around the world) fall victim to the defenseless actions of stubborn politicians. Oh yeah, thanks again to all the Red voters for eating up this rhetoric over the years and not being able to tell that talk radio, FOX news and Republican politicians are simple carrying water for big business and view the general population as pawns in their private game.

I also want to look at the health care debate from a very broad perspective. The big point is that the Republicans want Americans to have to struggle to buy health insurance because it gives employers power over the employee. Today, the top reason for people staying in a job that is otherwise unsatisfactory is that they need the insurance and cannot risk going without for even a short time. Employers know this and therefore they have no incentive to do much for their workers who are all but enslaved to them because of this. If individuals were free to switch jobs without fear of losing their health care, the workers would have the freedom to move to a better job or demand that employers provide better conditions. The larger debate therefore is really who should have the power - businesses or individuals (not government or individuals as the dishonest right wingers would like us to believe).

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Colin Powell

I used to have a lot of respect for Colin Powell. Unfortunately, a life in the military taught him to blindly follow orders even, as it turned out during his tenure in the GWB Administration, the orders went against U.S. American interests. Freed from his obligation to gloss over the Republican Party's misguided policies, he is now finding his voice. Sadly, it comes years too late to save us from a generation of Republican dominance which has decimated the security, reputation and honor of this nation. But in a recent interview, as detailed by another Republican trying to back peddle from the mess he helped give birth to, Powell tries. (I find the last line in the quote below tragically ironic)

"What is the greatest threat facing us now?" Colin Powell asked. "People will say it's terrorism. But are there any terrorists in the world who can change the American way of life or our political system? No. Can they knock down a building? Yes. Can they kill somebody? Yes. But can they change us? No. Only we can change ourselves.


George W. Bush is many things. He is an embarrassment to this nation. He is the poster boy for the conservative movement that has infected our democracy. And he is an absolute ideologue. Of the many asinine and mean spirited things he said at his press conference the other day (video below), his comment about "Mandela" being dead has managed to piss off even more of the worlds' population. While I despise George W. Bush for his thoughtless and mean spirited assault on people who are not part of his hateful and dishonest movement, I also cannot get past really blaming those who supported him in 2000 and especially 2004. Believe me, I have tried very hard to understand how voters could have missed seeing the damage this man and this movement has brought to our country. I'm finding it hard to forgive them, even to this day, because it was their refusal to put the interests of our country ahead of partisan politics and personal self interest that is ultimately responsible for bringing this once great nation down to the status of laughing stock.

Nelson Mandela is still very much alive despite an embarrassing gaffe by U.S. President George W. Bush, who alluded to the former South African leader's death in an attempt to explain sectarian violence in Iraq. "It's out there. All we can do is reassure people, especially South Africans, that President Mandela is alive," Achmat Dangor, chief executive officer of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, said as Bush's comments received worldwide coverage.
In a speech defending his administration's Iraq policy, Bush said former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's brutality had made it impossible for a unifying leader to emerge and stop the sectarian violence that has engulfed the Middle Eastern nation.
"I heard somebody say, Where's Mandela?' Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas," Bush, who has a reputation for verbal faux pas, said in a press conference in Washington on Thursday.Jailed for 27 years for fighting white minority rule, Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994. He won a Nobel Peace Prize for preaching racial harmony and guiding the nation peacefully into the post-apartheid era.References to his death -- Mandela is now 89 and increasingly frail -- are seen as insensitive in South Africa

Friday, September 21, 2007

Happy Friday!

TGIF >>> WE MADE IT!! Yes, we made it through another week in a year of the decade that will go down in American history as our darkest hour. Let's hope we can all get to a place where we can look back and laugh at the mess. Until then, it's important to see why the USA has so lost it's way. This is from President Bush's press conference yesterday. Remember, George W. Bush didn't make it to the White House on his own smarts. It was a movement that brought and keeps Bush in power. A movement that has no intentions of dying after GWB leaves office. Is this the mentality and attitude we aspire to as a nation? I hope not.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Brett Sommers goes BLANK

Earlier this year Charles Nelson Reilly from the old MATCH GAME show passed away and today Brett Somers did. It was one of my favorite shows growing up so it's a bit sad to see all it's stars beginning to fall. Here's a clip that shows Charles and Brett joking around. They were pretty drunk here as the alcohol flowed freely on the set.

Good Day Sunshine

It's Monday morning of what feels like will be a long week. Starting the day off with a smile often helps. Here's a tune that hopefully will lift your spirits and remind you to appreciate the simple things in life. Have a good week everyone!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Greenspan Spills the Beans

Former Federal reserve Chairman and lifelong Republican Alan Greenspan has a new book out and his honesty is quite revealing. He basically pans the first George Bush for trying to have undue influence on him to effect the 1992 election, says Bush the Younger and his team pushed irresponsible economic policies because of politics and (shocker!) praises the Clinton economic team for their intelligent and long term thinking. Of course, fair minded observers of politics have already come to the same conclusion, but to hear it from one of the most respected economic forces in US History gives great weight to this truth. [Greenspan rates the Presidents from Nixon to GWB]
Many are upset that Greenspan remained quiet while George W. Bush wrecked the economy and I understand that. Loyalty too often takes precedence over the good of the nation in Republican circles. Most commentators on Greenspan's book are focusing on his opinion that Republican deserved to lose in 2006 because they supported Bush's poor economic policies and strayed from conservative ideals. My quibble with that is that I don't think that the "conservative movement" strayed from it's beliefs only in recent years. Rather, as I have argued many times here, the "conservative movement" has always been a fraud- using small government rhetoric to lure unsuspecting voters but never (yes, even RedGod Reagan ran up the deficit to record numbers) actually shrinking anything but the opportunity for non rich Republican interests to get ahead. HERE is an article about the book and below are some of the most noteworthy sections from the article:

In the 500-page book, "The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World," Mr. Greenspan describes the George W. Bush administration as so captive to its own political operation that it paid little attention to fiscal discipline, and he described Mr. Bush’s first two Treasury secretaries, Paul H. O’Neill and John W. Snow, as essentially powerless. Mr. Bush, he writes, was never willing to contain spending or veto bills that drove the country into deeper and deeper deficits, as Congress abandoned rules that required that the cost of tax cuts be offset by savings elsewhere. "The Republicans in Congress lost their way," writes Mr. Greenspan, a self-described libertarian Republican. "They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither. They deserved to lose" in the 2006 election, when they lost control of the House and Senate.

Of the presidents he worked with, Mr. Greenspan reserves his highest praise for Bill Clinton, whom he described in his book as a sponge for economic data who maintained "a consistent, disciplined focus on long-term economic growth." It was a presidency marred by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he writes, but he fondly describes his alliance with two of Mr. Clinton’s Treasury secretaries, Robert E. Rubin and Lawrence H. Summers, in battling financial crises in Latin America and then Asia.

By contrast, Mr. Greenspan paints a picture of Mr. Bush as a man driven more by ideology and the desire to fulfill campaign promises made in 2000, incurious about the effects of his economic policy, and an administration incapable of executing policy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Do you mind?

There is a new report out that says that Conservatives and Liberals not only believe different things .. they think differently. I knew this was the case and even remember reading a similar story about it some time ago. Here's how the report summarizes their findings:

Conservatives tend to crave order and structure in their lives, and are more consistent in the way they make decisions. Liberals, by contrast, show a higher tolerance for ambiguity and complexity, and adapt more easily to unexpected circumstances.
I can usually tell if someone is a Republican or a Democrat by talking to them for just a short while. Conservatives tend to speak in absolutes and take well worn steps to forming their opinion while Liberals tend to talk more broadly about subjects and are more diverse in their opinion formulation. Conservatives tend to try to make the world fit their beliefs while liberals seem to react to the situation they find and adapt their beliefs to it.

I believe that much of this difference is inherent but much of it is, in fact, learned. What always infuriated me most about the right wing media is not that they express opinions different than my own. I hate the fact that they teach closed mindedness. Listen closely and you'll notice Rush Limbaugh instructing his audience not only WHAT to think but also HOW to think like a Conservative.

Conservative leaders over the past generation have done a fantastic job of convincing people that inflexibility is a sign of strength. Everywhere today we see this foolish mentality running rampant in our government. Many religions also perpetuate this type of thinking. They teach that they (and only they) know the truth and any wavering from what they say is a sentence to burn in Hell. The modern Conservative movement has successfully merged these two forces to bring us the mess we have to day - bad ideas followed by an unwillingness to change them.

Of course there are many exceptions to these arguments. In fact, I would classify this mental difference a little differently. I see people actually split between 'Ideologues" and "Pragmatists " rather than "Conservatives" or "Liberals". Not that the report is incorrect - at this time in history most Americans who describe themselves as "conservatives" are by their own definition ideologues because they embrace a set of opinions which they feel duty bound to push forward no matter what. For example, Conservatives are willing to tank the budget or take health care away from kids if it mean avoiding tax hikes. They know what they believe in and nothing will sway their opinion.

However, I would argue that radical liberals also have an absolutist mindset. There are some on the left (far fewer and much, much less influential) who think just like a typical self defined "Conservative". I would hypothesize that those who KNOW that 9-11 was an inside job have the same mentality as those who KNOW Saddam Hussein planned those attacks. They believe what they believe and no amount of facts or common sense will sway their mind. They are different politically but the same mentally. (Notice how many people switch from one extreme to another... and how few moderates evolved into radicals?)

Another aspect of this is that we tend to assume that others think like we do. Since Conservatives embrace their opinion with zealotry - they assume that anyone who disagrees is going to be equally as extreme and unwavering in their beliefs. Again, look at the way the right wing demonizes liberals - describing them in ways that I have never seen in my lifetime. Yet, their followers, who are themselves unmovable in their philosophy, are easily convinced that everyone thinks that way. Liberals often get in trouble by assuming that conservatives will come around to their way of thinking. We give those who disagree with us the benefit of the doubt - sometimes with terrible results. Bush has used this beautifully to keep extending the Iraq war by 6 months at a time while Democrats kept hoping that at some point republicans would have to realize that things had to be changed. It didn't happen.

No doubt both mentalities have to be represented in a democracy. The real argument, I suppose, is the proper proportion necessary to have the greatest success in moving us all forward in a humane and productive way. You'll notice that even that idea requires seeing the world in some shades of grey and therefore will be rejected or misunderstood by many.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Monday Morning Roundup

Went to Shea Stadium Saturday for the first time to see the Mets play. It was OK but definitely not the same as going to Yankee Stadium. Not to seem too biased but just about everything is better in the Bronx. The Stadium is nicer, you are closer to the field. The fans are better - Tom Glavine was throwing a perfect game for 6 innings but you would have never known from the fan response. Those who bothered to show up (although the Mets are doing great this year, the stands were at least 1/3 empty) they were not really that much into the game! The concessions - while a little cheaper were harder to find and almost non existent in the stands (Although the personalized "Mets Budweiser" bottles were pretty cool). Basically visiting Shea was like going to a big park to watch a baseball game being played verses going to "The Stadium" where you really become part of the Yankee experience. I'm glad I went but it really just made me appreciate the Yankees so much more.

I tried to watch the MTV awards last night but it was a mess. I have been reading about how they were going to revolutionize the show - but it fell flat. Britney Spears opened the show and was just horrible. Everything else I saw over the next hour or so was almost equally as bad. Back to the drawing board MTV.

We decided to just stay in yesterday and order dinner in. We got the Dominoes "Brooklyn style" pizza. It was great actually and I recommend it.

Big Brother 8 (USA) is winding down and another year of being addicted to the show is finally coming to a close. What's made it more of a nuisance is the fact that they have, for the first time, a live show every night from midnight to 3am on the network Showtime Too. It is simultaneously memorizing and boring ... if that makes any sense. Anyway there is a guy from FSU still left in the house and apparently it's someone I somewhat know. He looks familiar and people back in Tallahassee tell me that he has hung out with us many times. Even though I only barely remember him I'm still rooting for Zach.

The Dolphins lost their first game yesterday. The lack of coverage up here is frustrating but if they have another poor season I may be thankful that they are almost never on TV here in New York. The Yankees are doing well right now and lead the Wild Card race. Keep it up guys!

Summer is hanging on here. It was blazing hot at the Mets game on Saturday and the 80+ degree temps continue. I'm guessing only for another couple weeks though. My sweaters, jackets and hoodies are ready to go.

Have a great week everybody!!!!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Happy Friday!

Although 'Weird Al' Yankovic is mostly known for his silly parodies, you shouldn't doubt that this white boy has mad skillz too.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

We Loved Luci'

Luciano Pavorati has died and the world has certainly lost a legend. I'm not a big opera fan but I do have fond memories of Pavoratti. He was the keystone in the opera trio "The Three Tenors". Their concert was a staple for Public Television fundraisers in the mid and late 90's and it was one of the first programs I had to fund raise for when starting my Public TV career. At that time I REALLY didn't know about opera so I stammered over the names of the other guys, but somehow I knew Pavarotti. If memory serves me right - it was he who I focused on during those first hours on the air, saying his name anytime I wanted to sound knowledgeable about opera. I got to watch the Three Tenors concerts many times over the years and eventually learned all about the other Tenors, but it was Luciano Pavarotti who I always appreciated the most. Not only for his awesome talents, but also for being there with me at the beginning introducing me to the world of opera and to the world of TV Broadcasting.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Seminoles Start Season with a Loss

Why do I bother to stay up and watch FSU anymore? At least last night they staged a strong comeback - which fell short - against Clemson rather than loosing the game at the last minute as usual. With a tough schedule ahead it looks like it could be a long year for FSU Football. We started the season ranked #19 and will surely drop from the top 25 after the loss. A National Championship already seems out of touch and our shot at the ACC crown took a sharp blow with yesterdays loss. Sunday the NFL starts and my Miami Dolphins opens up against the Redskins. I'm hoping that they can provide me some hope and excitement over the next few months. To say the least though, my optimism is limited.

BOONDOCKS: An Iraq War Parable

Well, President Bush was in Iraq yesterday and it appears he is ready to declare victory again but this time start withdrawing some troops. It wouldn't surprise me if did a massive withdrawal to take the heat off the GOP in '08, and then tell the new president (and the nation) that Iraq is in great condition and anything that goes wrong from this point on is not his responsibility. Mission Accomplished!

I remember as a kid reading parables but we don't get much of that as adults but here is one about the lead up to the Iraq War from the TV Cartoon "The Boondocks". In this clip, a few characters pay an unscheduled and unecessaary visit a convenience store (which symbolizes Iraq). Like so many cartoons these days it has very harsh language and violence, but I think that you'll find it an apt comparison of how we all were pulled into this mess.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

SUNDAY FUNNY: Larry Craig, Reenacted

Keith Olberman put together this reenactment of the Sen. Craig bathroom incident. It's pretty amusing. I think it's great, of course, that another hateful right winger has had his karma backlash, but after hearing the audio of his interrogation I do feel like he MAY have been railroaded by the cop. The officer used typical interrogation techniques to get Craig to sign off on something he seemed to disagree with. I sure do hate perverts in the bathroom - even more than undercover cops - but I have little sympathy for either of these toilet loiterers.