Thursday, July 31, 2008

All Those Other Presidents on the Dollar Bills

Barack Obama ignited another brush fire with the following recent comment:

"What they're going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, he's not patriotic enough, he's got a funny name, you know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."

The McCain campaign jumped on with a statement from campaign manager Rick Davis:

"Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck. It's divisive, negative, shameful and wrong."

Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton quickly slipped the race card back into the deck, where it can presumably be played again later if needed:

"Barack Obama in no way believes that the McCain campaign is using race as an issue, but he does believe they're using the same old low-road politics to distract voters from the real issues in this campaign, and those are the issues he'll continue to talk about."

We will point out that only one president appears on the U.S. dollar bill, George Washington. So who could Barack have meant by "all those other presidents?"

There are a number of other countries that issue dollars, and Queen Elizabeth appears on many of these, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, and Fiji. But Queen Elizabeth is not a president.

Or perhaps Barack Obama was thinking of other U.S. Presidents on our paper money: Thomas Jefferson ($2), Abraham Lincoln ($5), Andrew Jackson ($20) and Ulysses S. Grant ($50). You can keep your Washingtons ($1) and Lincolns ($5). We prefer Alexander Hamilton ($10) and Benjamin Franklin ($100), who were never president.

It turns out that George Washington and Barack Obama are related. Their common ancestor is Lawrence Washington, an English wool merchant born around 1500. Lawrence is Obama's great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather on his mother's side. Lawrence was George Washington's great-great-great-great-great grandfather on his father's side. I can see the resemblance.

Win a Night with Hillary?

I got the following email today from Bill Clinton. He's trying to raffle off Hillary to pay down her campaign debt.

During the campaign, Hillary and I didn't have the chance to eat together much because we were usually on the trail in different states. Now that the campaign's over, I'm glad we can share more meals again.

Of all the people I've had the privilege to break bread with, the person I most enjoy is still Hillary.

Now you have a chance to have dinner with her. And if you contribute today to help Hillary retire that pesky campaign debt, you and a guest might be sitting down to dinner with her soon. I think you should go for it and enter today.

Join Hillary for dinner. Make a contribution today.

Trust me on this one. If you're the lucky winner, it will be a night you'll really enjoy and one to remember.

I'm a little intrigued about the phrasing: "Of all the people I've had the privilege to break bread with, the person I most enjoy is still Hillary." Are we just talking about dinner, or does "break bread" perhaps suggest something more? And let me see, I can bring a guest, so would that be a threesome?

More Freelance Ads for John McCain

One Man

Obama: Unqualified Puppet of the DNC

Barack Obama is no Britney Spears or Paris Hilton

The latest add from John McCain titled "Celeb" seems to compare Barack Obama to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. But Senator McCain. We know Britney Spears. We know Paris Hilton. Senator Obama is no Britney Spears, no Paris Hilton.

OK, maybe Barack admits that when he was young man he did a little blow when he could afford it. But John, we also know about those drinking binges all your aviator friends used to fly in for that you fessed to.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Will We or Won't We?

Barack Obama’s speech in Berlin on Thursday, July 24, 2008 asked these seven questions:

(1) Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice?

(2) Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?

(3) Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe?

(4) Will we give meaning to the words “never again” in Darfur?

(5) Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world?

(6) Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law?

(7) Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don’t look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Boston Not Green Enough for Barack Obama

Speaking on Thursday, July 24,2008 in Berlin, Barack Obama said

"As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya. This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands."

Obama drew a large crowd of 200,000. That's an impressive number, but some will point out that just a week or so ago the annual Love Parade techno music festival drew a crowd of 1.5 million in the western German city of Dortmund. Obama's largest audience in the United States was a crowd of 75,000 back in May at a rock concert in Portland, Oregon.

But, let's face it, this speech was not exactly "Ich Bin Ein Berliner" or "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."

John F. Kennedy June 1963 speech.

Ronald Reagan June 1987 speech.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Another Mission Accomplished

Oh boy, Barack Obama is in trouble now. While in Baghdad, he got Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to affirm support for the 16-month troop withdrawal timeline that Obama has proposed.

The Bush administration is in a rage as they feel they have been undermined in their ongoing negotiations for an agreement with the Iraqi government about future American military presence and obligations. John McCain keeps reminding anyone who will listen that the only reason Obama can be talking about timetables is because the troop surge McCain advocated is working. And I saw David Gergen on CNN lecturing that Obama has made a serious mistake because we have a tradition in this country that we only have one President at a time. David, please get yourself another banana and go lecture Dick Cheney.

Now we are 18 months into the surge. And it is 6 more months until the new President takes office, which will make it 24 months and counting. And 16 more months to withdrawal will make it 40 months. So all that Obama is saying that we are 60% done. If you add the 46 months of war before that, Obama is saying that we are 81% done. John McCain, on the other hand, says that violence in Iraq is down 80% from 4 years ago and Iraq has now met 15 of 18 benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress, which is 83% done.

Is it wrong to ask the Iraqis to do the last 20% themselves? If you apply the old engineering rule, it takes 20% of the effort to get to 80% done. And 80% of the effort to get the last 20% done. That suggests with 5.5 years behind us, there could be 22 years to go. If you count back to the start of the first Iraq war in 1990, we have 18 years behind us, and 72 years to go. That's starting to get close to the 100 year mark that John McCain mentioned last January would be fine with him.

Of course, I’m remembering that banner that flew above President Bush on the USS Abraham Lincoln back on May 1, 2003. I think we did have the war won then. It’s winning the peace that is so hard.

Monday, July 21, 2008

After School Special

Expect to be in the South End around 10:30pm on a Friday or Saturday night with nothing but time to kill? Between now and August 8 you can catch Rick Park and John Kuntz at the BCA in After School Special. If you've been to the theater in Boston in the last 10 years, you've almost certainly seen one of these two on stage. The play follows the trials and tribulations of a perky teen-age girl who, in order to save the life of her faithful dog, must become wicked popular. Along the way, she outwits the school bully, befriends nerds, defies her sociopathic mother, discovers her true secret identity, and figures out who is killing all the contestants in the high school beauty pageant. At least that is the official synopsis.

And what would you be doing in the South End at that time of night? Earlier in the evening at the BCA you could take in Assassins. This Stephen Sondheim musical attempts to explore the motives of nine individuals from John Wilkes Booth to John Hinckley who have attempted to assassinate an American President. I’m not sure this revival of the 1990off-Broadway hit and 2004 Broadway hit is a good idea. For me, it brings up bad memories of a long and not terribly funny story about Leon Czolgosz and the assassination of President William McKinley in Buffalo, New York that Rick Jenkins used to tell at the Comedy Studio in Harvard Square.

You could also wander down to Harrison Avenue to view the controversial mural by artist Ron English featuring mash-up portraits of Barack Obama and Abraham Lincoln.

What to do? Attending would require crossing over to the other side of the Charles River, 10:30pm is after my bedtime, and I'm not sure I'm ready to be investigated by the Secret Service. OK, I'm game.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Re: Flirting with Zack and Mary

Today I got a letter from John McCain containing a one dollar bill ($1). The letter asked that I send the dollar back along with a contribution of $300 to $400. But I'm wondering why the McCain campaign needs my money if they have got lots of extra dollar bills just lying around that they can mail out to people like me. On the other hand, Barack Obama has sent me nothing. Mary, thank you and please thank John for me.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Mississippi Rising

Caroline Herring played a free gig at Club Passim last night. She says she flew in this afternoon and had to fumble through her purse to find enough loose quarters to pay the $3.50 toll to get through the Ted Williams Tunnel. It was worth every quarter.

Caroline now lives in Atlanta with her husband and two kids, but grew up in Mississippi and then spent some early adult years in Texas. She says that in Mississippi everyone goes around feeling guilty, but in Texas everyone is swelling with pride. She’s got a masters degree in Southern Studies, so we’ll have to accept that as the final word on the subject.

She brings that Mississippi gloom to songs like Paper Gown, a murder ballad about Susan Smith, the woman who back in 1994 drowned her two boys and tried to blame it on a black man.

I’ve been seeing a lot of groups and bands at Club Passim lately, so it was nice to hear a good folk singer with a guitar. Naomi Sommers, the opening act, also fit that bill.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Gospel According to Eve

This past weekend I got out of the city to the left bank suburb of Waltham for a pre-final cut screening of a new independent film.

Eve (Alex Zielke) is at the pinnacle of her career. Intelligent Answers, the internet search company she runs with her best friend Carmen (Korinne Hertz) is flying high. They are sitting on a huge fortune in stock gains that they can cash in just six months, and they are about to launch a new search product called Gospel. But there is not much going on in Eve’s personal life, and she needs to take some time off to care for her ailing mother (not cancer). Rob (Rob Fallon), the freelance writer who comes for an interview, might be the perfect catch.

It’s a serious film, but there are some very funny moments. Nate Connors, in his second feature length film, is a riot as the super-geek Carl. And there is a charming yet bratty adolescent English girl (Holly Payne-Strange) that you would just love to pack off to Hogwarts. The rest of the ensemble cast is wonderful. You will never think about roast pork or stuffed peppers the same way again.

Alex, the lead actress, takes some chances as Eve that remind of Jennifer Jason Leigh in Washington Square (1997) or Olivia De Havilland in The Heiress (1949). And it doesn’t get any easier when it is her own money and not an inheritance in waiting. The actor who plays Rob as a laid back Jesus lookalike is a US Forest Ranger.

The movie was shot on location at two of my favorite places, World’s End in Hingham and the Minuteman Bike Trail at Spy Pond in Arlington. It will be an artifact of how we lived and worked in the early internet age, the dumpy way we looked and dressed, and what passes for a pathetic New England Christmas with anemic snow in the age of global warming. I’ll want a copy of the DVD.

I give it 3 stars, with hope for 4 stars on final cut. (I’ve never given a chick flick 5 stars.) Right now the working title is Everyday Answers and it may be out for the fall 2008 film festival season.

Cast and crew:

Eve: Alex Zielke
Rob: Rob Fallon
Carmen: Korinne Hertz
Carl: Nate Connors
Martin: Fred Robbins
Anya: Janelle Mills
Renee: Liz Robbins
Bertie: Holly Payne-Strange
Karen: Jackie Stachel
Mike: John Ralston Craig
Real Estate Agent: Eve Passeltiner
Dentist: Bob Hannon
Dental Patient: Molly Kimmerling

Co-directors: Rose Carlson and Bob Stachel
Written by: Bob Stachel, Courtney Lamb, and Kathleen Rogers
Produced by: Bob Stachel, Rose Carlson, Jackie Stachel and Mike Decoteau
Edited by: Bob Stachel, Mike Decoteau, and Elton James
Featuring songs by: Linda Sharar

Re: Nation of Whiners - It's Not the Mental Economy Stupid

This from James Carville, longtime Clinton loyalist and Democratic strategist:

How's this for the latest Republican outrage? A few days ago, John McCain's top economic honcho called America "a nation of whiners" and said that we're only in "a mental recession."

Are we all just imagining $4.00 a gallon gas? Were the 438,000 jobs that America lost already this year all just in our heads? Tell John McCain that what you just paid for gas and groceries this week was no figment of your imagination.

Two or Three More Brigades to Afghanistan

Speaking to a town hall meeting today in Albuquerque, New Mexico, John McCain said:

"Senator Obama will tell you we can't win in Afghanistan without losing in Iraq. In fact, he has it exactly backwards. It is precisely the success of the surge in Iraq that shows us the way to succeed in Afghanistan.

"I know how to win wars. And if I'm elected president, I will turn around the war in Afghanistan, just as we have turned around the war in Iraq, with a comprehensive strategy for victory.

"The status quo is not acceptable. Security in Afghanistan has deteriorated, and our enemies are on the offensive. From the moment the next president walks into the Oval Office, he will face critical decisions and crucial decisions about Afghanistan.

"In trying to sound tough, [Obama] has made it harder for the people whose support we most need to provide it. I won't bluster and I won't make idle threats. But understand this, when I am commander in chief, there will be nowhere the terrorists can run and nowhere they can hide. I will get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.”

McCain called for sending three more brigades of troops to Afghanistan. On Monday, Barack Obama called for sending at least two more brigades. A brigade can be up to around 4,000 troops.

Re: Flirting with Zack and Mary

One friend of mine has an answer to the ethical concern about giving money to political campaigns or political parties that might use the money to make negative ads. He just makes his own ads:

Flirting with Zack and Mary

I was walking through Harvard Square on Saturday and was approached by a young man with a clipboard. I’ll call him Zack. He asked if I had a minute for the DNC (Democratic National Committee). Zack was dressed nicer than the usual youngsters in Harvard Square with clipboards, so I said yes. Zack’s pitch was that he wanted $50 or $100 for the DNC to run ads to fight what he said is sure to be one of the nastiest elections in American history.

I asked Zack if he knew about the elections in 2004, 2000, 1992, and 1988, and how he thought this one would be worse. Zack said he had studied those elections in his PoliSci classes at the University of Michigan, and his professor had taught them all about Willie Horton and Swift Boating. But, Zack said, this year would be worse and hadn’t I already seen that in what they just did to General Wesley Clark?

Zack, I asked, isn’t Wesley Clark the guy who just shot off his mouth running down John McCain’s war record? Yes, he said and didn’t I think that Wesley Clark was great to say that? I told him they needed to be very careful with that line. A lot of Democrats have served in the military or have family who have served in the military and they are not going to take kindly to having military service discounted disparaged as a presidential qualification, even if their candidate has other good qualifications to consider.

So Zack came back at me, asking what I thought about the smear being circulated that Barack is a Muslim. Now Zack, I responded, I have not heard the McCain campaign say that. And where is the smear in being a Muslim? Aren’t you smearing Muslims every time you say that is a smear? Well, Zack looked like me might try to make a run for it, but stood his ground and admitted that wasn’t itself a smear. But, he said, the country isn’t ready to vote for a Muslim. I admit I got a little confused at this point as to whether he was trying to tell me that Barack is actually of Muslim heritage but it is a smear to say so.

I could see that I was losing Zack, so I mentioned that I had gone to Michigan Law School and we talked a bit about Ann Arbor and what a great school the University of Michigan is. Then Zack remembered that another nasty thing the Republicans are doing is calling Barack elitist and arrogant. Well he is, I wanted to say, to people who aren’t privileged with Michigan degrees like you and me.

Instead, I asked Zack what he thought about the Barack campaign deciding not to take public financing. Well, Zack said, that was a decision. The Obama campaign is creating our own public finance, he continued, by asking people to give $50 or $100 and that gives them ownership shares in Obama. What, I wanted to ask, are you saying white guys like you and me can own a little piece of Barack Obama? Yes we can, I imagined Zack would answer. But I didn’t quite have the nerve to ask him that.

Well, anyone who turns down $84 million obviously doesn’t need my money, so I won’t be writing a check to the Obama campaign. And I’m not about to give the DNC money so they can run ads against John McCain’s military service. But I did encourage Zack to get out there and register new voters, like my brother is doing in Washington State.

When I got home from Harvard Square, the phone rang. It was a woman, I’ll call her Mary, from the RNC (Republican National Committee). Mary wanted $300 to help get candidates elected at the state, congressional, and presidential level.

Now, I must admit I don’t think too highly of the RNC. They have been writing me for several years asking me why I have abandoned them. And I haven’t ever given the RNC anything. And they hardly ever run candidates here in my district. When they do the guy quite often turns out to have an arrest record or something equally disgraceful. And when a Republican like Bill Weld or Mitt Romney with some experience does come out of Massachusetts, the national Republicans usually shoot him down. So I have abandonment issues.

I tell Mary that for me the Republican Party is just the Presidential election. Mary has a fine southern accent, but she allows how she knows a few people from Massachusetts and understands. And then Mary talks about how Barack Obama frightens her. And how she’s scared he will team up with Hillary at the convention in August. I don’t have the heart to tell Mary that I am not frightened by either. Mary says their negatives together may hold them back, but it could go the other way too. I agree.

So, Mary goes on about how Barack is inexperienced and only in his 40s. I point out that I am in my 40s. Well, Mary says, anyone who is 35 or older can run for President. I think about whether that is an invitation for me to run, but decide to let that pass. Mary tells me that for Presidents we usually think about someone in their 50s or 60s. I tell her I agree, but point out that we don’t have anyone in that age range this time, as Obama is in his 40s and McCain is in his 70s.

Mary then turned to the war. Mary says she hates how many billions of dollars we are pouring into Iraq. Mary says she doesn’t understand what is going on over there, the mindset of setting of car bombs and things. I tell her that I understand - they are going to keep doing that as long as we have soldiers patrolling the streets, and we need to turn things over to the Iraqi government so we can leave.

They messed with us and we had to do something, Mary says. She believes that George Bush did the right thing, and that she thinks John McCain can get this finished. I tell Mary that I had hoped George would bring this to completion after he reelected in 2004. No, Mary says, after what they did to George Bush on 9/11 they weren’t going to give him world peace, but they’ll be afraid of what John McCain will do even though they all hate us over there. I tell her I haven’t known any Iraqis but I have known Iranians, Jordanians, and Saudis and they were good people. She agrees they aren't all bad.

When she presses I say I’m not ready to give to the RNC. So she asks if she should put me down as a fence sitter.

So what am I to do, now that I am an officially declared fence sitter? I am not going to drink the kool-aid. I am willing to be seduced. But Zack just doesn’t do it for me, and a log distance relationship with Mary probably won't work.

Barack Obama on the Cusp

Barack Obama Stands on the Cusp of History:

Here is how Barack Obama envisions his new American majority in a recent fundraising letter:

(1) Bring together Democrats and Independents and Republicans, blacks and whites, Latinos and Asians, Red States and Blue States.
(2) End tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas.
(3) Put a middle class tax cut into the pockets of working families.
(4) Make health care affordable and available for every American.
(5) Crack down on predatory lenders and give relief to the victims of mortgage fraud.
(6) Bring our soldiers home and give them the care and benefits they have earned.
(7) Bring about justice and equality, opportunity and prosperity.
(8) Heal this nation, repair this world.

Barack says we stand on the cusp of history. Certainly his campaign is on a cusp. He has been stuck in the polls for the last few weeks with a steady but slender lead over John McCain. With the election in 16 weeks, this could still go either way.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The New Yorker Too Tasteless for Barack Obama

Obama campaign Spokesman Bill Burton has condemned The New Yorker magazine for its latest cover (shown above):

"The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."

We subscribe to The New Yorker, and we don't agree - we think it is funny. But we are not sure what The New Yorker is up to. We know that editor David Remnick has long been a quiet supporter of the Iraq war and benched Bush administration critic Hendrik Hertzberg for several months in 2002 and 2003. Or he may just be trying to send a message to the Obama campain to lighten up.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Let Them Eat Earrings

Michelle Obama went after the Bush tax rebate at a campaign event Wednesday in Pontiac, Michigan:

"You're getting $600 — what can you do with that? Not to be ungrateful or anything, but maybe it pays down a bill, but it doesn't pay down every bill every month. The short-term quick fix kinda stuff sounds good, and it may even feel good that first month when you get that check, and then you go out and you buy a pair of earrings."

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham was quick to respond:

"I know $600 for a family in South Carolina can get kids ready for school, help with the gas bill and does make a difference for families trying to make ends meet."

We agree with Michelle, we should get the $600 tax rebate every month.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Nation of Whiners

Phil Gramm, former Texas Senator and one-time Presidential candidate, said the following in an interview with the Washington Times:

"You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession. We may have a recession; we haven't had one yet. We have sort of become a nation of whiners. You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline. We've never been more dominant; we've never had more natural advantages than we have today. Misery sells newspapers. Thank God the economy is not as bad as you read in the newspaper every day."

Barack Obama was quick to respond, "America only has one Dr. Phil. When it comes to the economy, we don't need another one. It's not just a figment of your imagination, it's not all in your head."

Phil Gramm has been advising the McCain campaign, and they were also quick to distance themselves. John McCain has issued assurances that he is not considering Phill Gramm for any high level positions:

"I think Senator Gramm would be in serious consideration for ambassador to Belarus, although I'm not sure the citizens of Minsk would welcome that."

We'll give Phil Gramm the last word:

"When I spoke of whiners at my breakfast with the Washington Times on Wednesday, I was talking about American leaders who whine instead of lead. I was talking about leaders who blame speculators and oil companies for high oil prices and yet have no proposal to produce more energy here at home, leaders who think we can't compete with even Mexico and believe that we should build a wall around America and go hide under a rock somewhere. Certain too many members of Congress and the Barack Obama campaign fall into the category of whiners. We don't need whining. We need leadership."

A few comments (OK, we gave Phil the second to last word):

(1) We have become a nation of whiners. It's just not a good platform to campaign on. On the other hand, you can call Belarus a nation of whiners and not lose any votes.

(2) Misery isn't selling enough newspapers. The newspaper industry is under assault by the internet, and is losing. On the other hand, if the country elects Barack Obama, the newspapers are sure to start singing a happier tune.

(3) I'm reminded of a wonderful Phil Gramm quote from his 1984 Sentate campaign, "Has anyone ever noticed that we live in the only country in the world where all the poor people are fat?" I don't know if Phil has noticed that Americans are getting fatter. That must mean we are getting poorer.

(4) Barack Obama is no whiner. Neither is Hillary Clinton (OK, she has whined occassionally, but consider the provocations). John Edwards is a whiner. Ron Paul is a big whiner. John McCain is a little bit of a whiner.

Speaking English an Embarassment to Barack Obama

Speaking at campaign rally in Georgia earlier this week, Barack Obama said:

"I don't understand when people are going around saying, 'We need to have English only.' They want to pass a law 'We want English only.' Now I agree that immigrants should learn English. I agree with that.

"But understand this. Instead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English. They'll learn English. You need to make sure your child can speak Spanish. You should be thinking about how can your child become bilingual. We should have every child speaking more than one language.

It's embarrassing when Europeans come over here, they all speak English, they speak French, they speak German. And then we go over to Europe and all we can say is merci beaucoup, right?"

News flash, Barack. Not all Europeans can speak English. I met two young Swedish tourists on Mount Hood in Oregon last summer. They wanted me to take a picture of the two of them with their camera, and didn't speak a word of English. They didn't speak a word of Spanish either. Somehow, though, they were able to communicate what they wanted and the picture got taken. And no one was embarassed.

If you are going to teach children a second language, why not the computer programming language C#? If English is the first language of commerce, that's fast becoming the second language of commerce.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Barack Obama Too Condescending for Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson, the black minister and civil rights leader, got a little racy in speaking this past Sunday in a pre-interview conversation on Fox News, saying about Barack Obama, "I want to cut his nuts off."

He also said that Barack is "talking down to black people." Here's a news flash, Jesse. Barack talks down to white people too. He needs to get over that if he wants to be President, but your prescription is a bit extreme.

Jackson was apparently reacting to Barack's Father's Day message, in which Barack encouraged black males to be better fathers, and to Barack's recent offer to increase funding for faith-based initiatives. Jackson later explained:

"For any harm or hurt that this hot mic private conversation may have caused, I apologize. My support for Senator Obama's campaign is wide, deep and unequivocal. I cherish this redemptive and historical moment.

"My appeal was for the moral content of his message to not only deal with the personal and moral responsibility of black males, but to deal with the collective moral responsibility of government and the public policy which would be a corrective action for the lack of good choices that often led to their irresponsibility.

"That was the context of my private conversation and it does not reflect any disparagement on my part for the historic event in which we are involved or my pride in Senator Barack Obama, who is leading it, whom I have supported by crisscrossing this nation in every level of media and audience from the beginning in absolute terms."

Meanwhile, Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., expressed his disappointment about his father's "reckless statements":

"His divisive and demeaning comments about the presumptive Democratic nominee — and I believe the next president of the United States — contradict his inspiring and courageous career."

Editor's note: some sources have the quote as "I want to cut his nuts out."

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

John McCain Not Hero Enough for Wesley Clark

General Wesley Clark, former presidential candidate and sometime advisor to Barack Obama had the following to say a week ago on CBS when asked about John McCain's experience to be President:

"He hasn't held executive responsibility. ... He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. ... I don't think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president."

Reaction from the McCain campaign was swift: "If Barack Obama's campaign wants to question John McCain's military service, that's their right. But let's please drop the pretense that Barack Obama stands for a new type of politics. The reality is, he's proving to be a typical politician who is willing to say anything to get elected, including allowing his campaign surrogates to demean and attack John McCain's military service record."

Earlier in the interview Gen. Clark had said:

"I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces as a prisoner of war."

But not hero enough to be President of the United States. We sympathize. John McCain's lack of executive experience would be a problem against most opponents, although Barack Obama has even less. We see McCain's military experience as a factor to be considered but not the decisive factor.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Thursday Nights at the Movies

The outdoor Somerville movie festival schedule for 2008:

July 10The Lost BoysSeven Hills Park
July 17Mean GirlsSeven Hills Park
July 24Bee MovieSeven Hills Park
July 31Citizen KaneSeven Hills Park
August 7Spiderman 3Conway Park
August 14HairsprayFoss Park
August 21We Are MarshallProspect Hill Park
August 28EnchantedHodgkins Park
September 4Viewer’s ChoiceSeven Hills Park

The City of Somerville says movies will be shown outdoors on Thursday evenings beginning at dusk (approximately 8pm). In the event of inclement weather, movie screenings will be canceled.

The Viewer’s Choice on September 4 will be one of the following: Finding Nemo, Notorious!, The Bourne Identity, and Finding Neverland.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Would Pinheads Prevent the Birth of Barack Obama?

Hello. Did Zippy just suggest that he would go back in time to prevent the birth of Barack Obama? No, he said that about John McCain. (Click on comic strip for bigger version if not readable.)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Red Molly Rising

Red Molly performed at Club Passim last night. This trio performed bluegrass-style to a single microphone. Between the Dobro and the banjo and the harmonies, the only risk is getting too much of a good thing.

The group came together around a campfire at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival 4 years ago. Their latest album Love and Other Tragedies consists of traditional covers and originals. They have reached at #15 of the Americana Chart, #3 on the Roots Music Report's Folk Top 50, and #1 on Folk DJ. I suppose that tells you that Roots is a subgenre of Americana and Folk is a subgenre of Roots.

In the audience we met another bluegrass artist Amy Black, who has a show coming up at Bull Run in Shirley on 9/26/2008.

Fourth of July Cannon Fire on Cambridge Common

Blade Runner Alert

It's not just your imagination if you've seen Deckard lurking about Harvard Sqaure. Blade Runner: Final Cut is playing at the Brattle Theater today through Tuesday, July 11 at 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm, 7:30 pm, and 10:00 pm.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Re: Obama Not Black Enough for Ralph Nader?

Turnabout is fair play. Ralph Nader’s parents were Arabs, Maronites from Lebanon, and taught him Arab as well as English. That’s the same heritage as Jerusalem-born Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Robert Kennedy in 1968 for RFK’s support of Israel and who Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz recently described as giving the United States our first taste of Middle Eastern terrorism. So by Nader’s logic, Nader should stop talking about protecting American consumers and spend his campaign candidly talking about the plight of the downtrodden in the Middle East.

But if Ralph Nader is right, the Obama campaign might reconsider the limits of a strategy of appealing just to whites in the power class and liberal intelligentsia. That leaves out a large section of white middle America that doesn’t feel any personal guilt to the past sins of a power structure from which they are not descended, and who may be living in socio-economic circumstances that suggest no special racial advantage. That may well explain why Barack Obama has spent this past month clinging in the polls to a narrow lead and having the same sort of trouble breaking though to majority numbers that was predicted for Hillary Clinton.

Obama Not Black Enough for Ralph Nader?

In an interview with the Rocky Mountain News last week, quadrennial presidential candidate and Gore spoiler Ralph Nader seemed to suggest that Barack Obama is not black enough for his taste and is trying to talk white to appeal to white guilt:

“There’s only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He’s half African-American. Whether that will make any difference, I don’t know. I haven’t heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What’s keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn’t want to appear like Jesse Jackson? We'll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards.

"I mean, first of all, the number one thing that a black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor, especially in the inner cities and the rural areas, and have a very detailed platform about how the poor is going to be defended by the law, is going to be protected by the law, and is going to be liberated by the law. Haven't heard a thing.

“He wants to show that he is not a threatening . . . another politically threatening African-American politician. He wants to appeal to white guilt. You appeal to white guilt not by coming on as black is beautiful, black is powerful. Basically he's coming on as someone who is not going to threaten the white power structure, whether it's corporate or whether it's simply oligarchic. And they love it. Whites just eat it up."

Nader later added to these remarks:

“What difference it should make is that he would be more sensitive and determined to bring elevated visibility and concrete programs to deal with these issues. Wouldn’t a woman president be expected to be more responsive to women’s rights? It’s just more natural. Obama obviously made a tactical decision that he’s not going to campaign politically as Jesse Jackson did. He wants to come across that he’s not politically threatening to the white power class and the liberal intelligentsia. It’s been a brilliant tactic.”

All this earned Nader the usual denunciations. But is it really racist to compare Barack Obama to Jesse Jackson? That’s also the offense Bill Clinton was accused of committing back after the South Carolina primary.