Sunday, April 27, 2008

What Would Abe Say?

Sen. Hillary Clinton has challenged Sen. Barack Obama to a series of "Lincoln-Douglas"-style debates. Those debates, held in several Illinois towns in 1850 between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas for a U.S. Senate seat, became famous for their substance (slavery was the dominant issue; no record of any questions about lapel pins), their civility (there was no moderator) and their simple word count. (Each candidate spoke cumulatively for 90 minutes.)

I think Obama should agree to the proposal immediately, upon one condition: that Clinton actually starts acting like Lincoln. You know, dignified, respectful, scrupulously fairminded.

You want to debate like Lincoln?
Campaign like Lincoln.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

"ABC." Stands For...

"Attack Barack Completely." Or, issues that have (A)lready (B)een (C)hewed (over.) American Broadcasting Company? Nah, a new low in American broadcasting history.

Alas, ABC's Philadelphia debate ended up telling voters a lot more about Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos than it did about Obama or Clinton. Will Obama wear a flag lapel pin once again? Does his former pastor love America as much as he does? Yeah, those are the burning issues that keep anxious Americans up at night.

This anxious American is only sorry he stayed up as late as he did last night, watching two men I used to respect tarnish themselves and a proud network. Somewhere, Peter Jennings is shaking his head.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Who You Callin' Condescending?

In attacking Barack Obama's "small town" comments with the zeal of a hungry horsefly on a pile of hot, stinking you-know-what, Hillary Clinton -- as usual -- reveals more of herself than she does of Obama.

Both Clinton and McCain, in the attacks on Obama, cite his comments as proof that he is "elitist" and "out of touch" with working people. That he is condescending to them.

How, by telling the truth?

And, in truth, Obama's comments ("inartful," as even he agrees) were easy to manipulate by his opponents. But it doesn't make them any less accurate. The real problem is, one must read in them a slight degree of nuance. As in, it is not that there is anything wrong with religion or guns, for instance, but rather that those things have been used as wedge issues time after time by those in both parties (but mostly Republicans) where the only (and usually intended) effect is to distract from larger economic issues.

Ever read "What's the Matter with Kansas?"

Obama apparently believes that people -- blue collar and otherwise -- are fundamentally intelligent enough to see and understand what's been done to them. Clinton and McCain clearly do not. Better to stoop down low and rant that Obama is being an elitist and belittling some hard working Americans' religion and their love of hunting. They not only know better, they're the ones being condescending.

We are soon to be done with eight years of an imbecile of a president who once famously said about himself, "I don't do nuance."

How deflating to realize that two of the three candidates to replace that man don't do nuance, either.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Call him Senator John McConfused.
No, not about his now near-daily flubs about who's who (Sunni, Shiite) and who's
training Al-Qaeda (Al-Qaeda) and who's not (Iran).

No, it's bigger than that.
In his opening paen to Petraeus, John McCain once more observed that withdrawing now from Iraq would constitute a "moral and political failure in leadership."

Quick, Senator (and no coaching from Joe Lieberman!): then what does getting into the biggest foreign policy debacle in U.S. history constitute?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Where $390,000 is Minimum Wage

Tomorrow (April 8) is the Boston Red Sox Home Opener. Fenway Park will look clean and fresh and new corporate logos will have sprouted on available wall space over the winter like mushrooms. Happens ever year now. This is a very corporate-savvy, market-driven ownership group in Boston. Nothing wrong with that. Helps pays the bills. And the bills are gigantic.

The average major league salary this year rose above $3 million for the first time. The Yankees' Alex Rodriguez alone will make $28 million for the season. That's more than several teams' entire payrolls. (The major league minimum salary is $390,000.)Ted Williams, perhaps the greatest hitter ever to play the game, topped out at just over $100,000. A decade or so before he died, Williams was asked, considering the player salaries of today, how much he would ask for were he playing now with his record. "There isn't enough money," harumphed Teddy Ballgame.

Indeed, the stars of Williams' era, often considered baseball's golden age, played for mere fractions of what even today's mediocre players make. Players like Frank Robinson, Duke Snider, Whitey Ford and Harmon Killebrew. Each one is a Hall of Famer. Not one of them ever made a million dollars playing baseball. And yet, in a wonderful new book of interviews collected by former Baseball Commissioner Faye Vincent, the pure love of the game is echoed in tones of joy rarely heard from today's crop of ballplayer millionaires.

The book is called, "We Would Have Played For Nothing."
Word is the owners are at work on a companion volume tentatively titled, "Now You Tell Us!"

Sunday, April 6, 2008

R.I.P., N.R.A.

Well, its biggest booster, anyway.
May Charlton Heston rest in peace.
And I guess we can now take his gun, too.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Raise Your Hand If... give a sh*t who is, isn't, may, or may not be in NATO. Or who is or isn't onboard with a missile defense shield in Europe.

On the same day that President Bush prepared to huddle by the Black Sea with Russian President Vladimir Putin, figures were released in Washington that only further blackened the economic cloud in our own country.

How about a shield for Americans from the widespread fallout of a recession that is sure to get worse?

80,000 more U.S. jobs were lost in March -- the most in five years -- driving the national unemployment rate up to 5.1 percent. The economy has now lost 232,000 jobs in just the first three months of 2008.

And we're worried about who to extend the NATO franchise to?
We're worried about mystery missiles somehow, someday, some way falling somewhere in Europe?

Like you, and me, and your neighbor don't have enough to worry about with the insecurity of our jobs, and the stew of stress bubbling all around our mortgages, our healthcare (if we have it), our shrinking spending power and our kids' diminished futures.

Nato? Missile shields? Are you kidding me?
Like I said, raise your hand if you give a sh*t.

You can put your hand down now, Mr. President.