Thursday, August 28, 2008

What I Wanted to See

He has the killer instinct. At this point, that's what matters most.

Monday, August 25, 2008


I had made a prediction in the past that I was appalled to see come true tonight, and I feel compelled to write about it immediately. After watching Michelle Obama's speech and its subsequent nauseating over-analysis on CNN, I flipped over the to the good folks at Fox News.

As if the moment had been scripted, Brit Hume called on Charles Krauthammer for his take, and the man uttered some derivation of the word "exotic" about six times in 30 seconds.

Michelle Obama's speech was designed to counteract her husband's "exoticism." I knew... effing KNEW that the right would choose this word as their euphemism of choice. What better way to play the subliminal race card than to conflate Obama's ethnicity with the shocking fact that he has lived in Hawaii and Indonesia?

This offends on so many levels, I don't know where to begin. Besides its insidious bigotry, it also adds a nice dose of xenophobic anti-intellectual ignorance to the mix (part of the reason I love the neocons so much)... as if the fact that a person running for the president has (gasp!) lived abroad is a bad and dangerous thing instead of something that maybe gives him a better perspective. The fact that the right is trying to rebrand Hawai'i (a state, people) into something "exotic" and scary would be hysterical if it wasn't so pathetic.

Watch out for this, people. "Exotic." Obama's "exotic past." His campaign's "exoticism problem." Make no mistake, with its strained anti-intellectualism, the right is far closer to the dreaded Communists than a thousand tweed-wearing college professors in Madison.

Go Obama.

Two Ways of Thinking

I've been looking for a way to package this observation, and I haven't been able to figure it out. What I'm hoping is that by the end of this post, I'll have it.

When it comes to politicians, there are two ways of thinking. Well, there are lots of ways of thinking, but the only way to make a point seem even remotely interesting is to simplify it into two camps. In my case, the two camps are "in vacuum" and "in context."

The easiest example to illustrate what I'm trying to get at is the Monica Lewinsky affair. Using Vacuum Thinking (hey, I just capitalized the words; I'm getting close to the "package"!), I was outraged at the outrage. It was a personal matter. I don't care what happened to whom in the Oval Office or anywhere else. The brutal truth is that philandering has nothing to do with leadership. In fact, a convincing case can be made that the relationship is inversely proportional (the ol' "Hitler didn't smoke, drink or cheat, but Winston Churchill and FDR..." argument). Someone who makes bad personal decisions often makes very good professional ones, and vice versa.

On the other hand, using Context Thinking, I'm more outraged now than I was then. This type of thinking always starts with the words, "As a professional, you should know better than to..." Using this thinking, the act was reckless and damaging beyond comprehension. What you did not only brought you down, but damaged the party that put you in power, and thus everything you're supposedly trying to accomplish... paving the way for the next president to be chosen purely based on the perception of his personal morality, even if he's not fit for the job in any other way. (See what that got us?)

In looking at this year's presidential election, I move between these two ways of thinking in analyzing the candidates. With Obama, it goes to the heart of the American Contradiction when it comes to choosing candidates: You want someone who seems nice, down to earth and truly different from other politicians (Vacuum Thinking), but you also want someone with a killer instinct who understands the political system and is willing to do the dirty work to win (Context Thinking).

With McCain, it’s almost in reverse. I want to believe that his Evangelical Elite pandering is simply him doing what it takes to win (Context), but that once he gets in the Oval Office, he’ll go back to his free-thinking, mostly rational ways (Vacuum). McCain’s campaign recently floated the idea that he would only run for one term. That made him much more attractive in my eyes, because he wouldn’t have to spend his first presidency running for his second term, and he could stand up to his base.

We'll see if the conventions shed any light on this. In the meantime, I find myself in the odd position of reading about how Obama, out of political necessity, has ticked allies off in Chicago during his rapid ascendancy ... and seeing it as something in his favor.

Monday, August 18, 2008


The rewrite is done. Time for some time-released pent-up opinions and observations.

What is a pimiento, really? And who the hell was the first person to think of stuffing it into an olive?

Prediction: There is a group of people somewhere in San Francisco getting set to perform as the first all-iPhone band. Oops, too late.

For the first time in memory, I'm actually dreading a Notre Dame football season.

Apparently, afros are scary, even in cartoons. My son loves the Curious George movie and a cartoon called Lil' Bill, created by Bill Cosby. All of the African and African-American males in those cartoons are bald. All of the females have straightened (usually braided) hair. Why?

Hilarious short skit (no, that's not Jack Black and Sarah Michelle Gellar):

There are a shockingly large number of websites that offer hip-hop dictionaries and translations.

There are shockingly few hip hop terms for "prison."

"Who Killed the Electric Car" is a fascinating movie. Not because it features rich Hollywood celebrities mourning the confiscation their vehicles, but because it shows how an organization can create something successful, and then logically find it in its best interest to make it fail.

If you want a realistic taste of just how difficult it will be to change our energy infrastructure, see "Who Killed the Electric Car."

If you think that's an excuse for doing nothing about it, get real.

The only podcast truly worth your time is This American Life.

The #1 cable channel in terms of viewers is the USA Network. No opinion; just stating a fact.