Friday, October 31, 2008

eagleburger on palin

john mccain often crows about the endorsement he's received from lawrence eagleburger, who served as secretary of state under george h.w. bush.

eagleburger was on national public radio friday, talking about the possibility of a palin presidency, should something happen to john mccain:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

shiney happy

hyangwon-jeong pavilion, on the gyeongbok palace grounds. built in 1867, seoul, south korea. gyeongbok is korean for shining happiness.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

even more pathetic

the plumber endorses, holds a news conference, and people pay attention.

i'm a seoul man

visiting japan for the first time last year, i was comforted by the fact that i'd been listening to "rapid japanese" on my ipod for weeks prior to the trip and could at the very least engage in a tiny conversation (hello! how are you? i am fine. where is the toilet? how much for the mayonnaise drops?) by the time we arrived this year, my partner rob was fluent enough to negotiate a contract, order a five course dinner, or explain the intricacies of the japanese constitution to a four year old. and read it to him.

we landed in seoul, south korea today with a stark realization: none of us speak a lick of the language. not even rob-san. when we arrived at our unbelievably posh hotel (remote control window curtains, a 700-inch plasma television, and a bed that swallows you whole when you lie down) our friend and company manager tomoki handed out our room keys, smiled and said "okay, see you at 12:45 on thursday."

in other words, you're free, you're on your own, and good luck suckahs!

initially, our hunger threatened to turn us against each other (we could easily have voted someone off the island.) somehow, though, we struggled through the busy streets, and three of us ended up at a korean barbecue. one of about a hundred korean barbecues near our unbelievably posh hotel (seriously, you could stage a decent production of "fiorello" in the bathroom.)

we didn't even know how to call the server over to our table. it didn't seem to matter, as she just laughed at us and basically told us what to order. and how much of it. and it was delicious: strips of pork, beef stew, onions, garlic and mushroom cooked at our table, plus side dishes of spicy cabbage, apple potatoe salad, barbecue crab, and lettuce wraps.

for dessert we went to korean krispy kream. i skipped the black bean filled donut, opting instead for the traditional glazed.

first impressions: it's dirtier than japan, but not as dirty as new york. it's ruder than japan (much ruder) but not as rude as new york. and it's louder than japan, but not as loud as...uh-huh, new york.

and the man behind the counter at the seven-eleven speaks korean, japanese and english. are there any seven-eleven employees in the u.s. who speak three languages, i wonder?


this is why some on the right are so angry.  and this is why some on the left are.  and this.  

in my mind, it's what is wrong with us.  we spend so much time hating the other side, deciding they are so different from us, that some people resort to disgusting behavior.  thus, pushing the moderate folks further away from the center.  

we have common ground.  there is gray area.  we can come together around difficult issues.  there is definitely room for disagreement, and pushing back, and discussion.  but when it's taken too far, we accomplish nothing.  

Monday, October 27, 2008

hold the mayo drops!

the japanese have a frightening love affair with mayonnaise.

their blt's are swimming in it. the pizza options include the popular chili beans, tuna, and mayonnaise pizza. they drink mayo margaritas. they put mayo in their onigiri. and there is, in fact, a restaurant in tokyomayonnaise kitchen – that uses mayo in every one of it's dishes, including the desserts. (the restaurant's been so popular that they've opened a second location, in tachikawa.)

according to the japan mayonnaise and dressing makers association, japanese consumed 1.65 kg of mayonnaise per person in 2006 (down a bit from a peak of 1.90 kg in 2000.) that's almost three and a half pounds of mayo per person. three and a half. pounds.

and then there's this.

at last saturday's disney on classic concert, on the backstage snack table – next to the green tea and the meiji chocolates, behind the pocky and the pretz – was a small tin of mayonnaize drops. mayonnaize drops. mayo flavored candy. candy. mayo candy. candy that tastes like mayonnaise. candy.

i'm not kidding.

they look just like lemon drops and no, i didn't taste one. but i'm bringing a can home in case you're interested.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

battle for the planet of no more

i've been a little lax with the no more blog lately. partly because the flood of conservatives/republicans supporting barack obama (and distancing themselves from john mccain or the mccain campaign) has become, well, overwhelming.

but let's at least add these three four five newbies:
  • william weld, former republican governor of massachusetts.
  • charles fried, former solicitor general for president ronald reagan.
  • ken adleman, lifelong conservative republican and member of former secretary of defense donald rumsfeld's defense policy board.
  • colin powell (i know, better late than never.)
  • larry pressler, former republican senator from south dakota.
remember, the no more blog is there for you to forward to your moderate republican uncle who is on the fence and needs that extra little bit of information to make a decision before november 4th. it's a list of 25 27 former mccain supporters, conservatives, or republicans who have spoken out publicly against john mccain, his running mate, or his campaign, and includes short bios, links, and quotes for each.

japan blog love

i did my fair share of blogging about japan during last year's disney on classic tour. seeing this world through not-so-new eyes is nearly as interesting as seeing it for the first time. i'm fascinated with what i remember about the country and culture, what i missed, and what i saw in 2007 that looks different with a second look.

if you're jonesin' for a totally fresh perspective on this experience, this is danny mcnie's first year with d.o.c. and he's recently started a blog. (and he's got great some great video.)

if you want the viewpoint of the old master, our esteemed conductor, brad kelly (who was instrumental in d.o.c.'s inception) is also a new blogger and it's interesting to get his take on the experience. brad posts some beautiful photos as well.

all-in-all, with danny on one end, brad on the other, and me sandwiched in between, it's a japan/d.o.c. full meal deal.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

rehearsal with the mouse

many years ago, in another life, i was lucky enough to be one of several actors in milwaukee, wisconsin to appear in local shopping malls and at public grade school assemblies as al-luminum,” one of two "spokes-characters" for the city of milwaukee's recycling program.

al, a human aluminum can, wore silver high-top sneakers, a large foam “aluminum” can around his torso, floppy silver gloves with three fingers on each hand, and a hat designed to look like a soda can pop-top (the term pop-top alone reveals my age.) my good friend becky spice often appeared alongside me as “can-garoo" – you guessed it, a giant kangaroo. (nothing says reduce, re-use and recycle like a giant kangaroo.)

canga's costume was not only quite warm, but provided little protection from the swarms of fiesty 8-year olds who were much more interested in knocking over the big kangaroo and pulling it's long fuzzy tail than which bin the plastic milk carton went into.

i can recall the panic of becky's muffled cries – "tony! tony! get these kids off me!" – to this day.

considering these rather humble beginnings, i consider it the natural evolution of my theatrical career that yesterday i performed with mickey mouse.

disney on classic 2008, the symphony concert tour i'm part of this fall, made an appearance on friday (four hour-long appearances to be exact) at tokyo disney sea for thousands hundreds of screaming appreciative fans. most exciting about the disney gig: our abbreviated show included appearances by mickey, minnie, and, in fact, tens of other disney characters, including snow white, peter pan, chip and dale, prince charming, aladdin, jasmine, goofy, pluto, and donald duck. this is apparently rather unusual – all these disney characters performing together in one show – and i can tell you several of our cast members were quite, shall we say “taken” with the opportunity. (danny, have you been friended by peter pan yet?)

the strangest part of the entire disney experience was the national-security-like secrecy of it all. absolutely no photos could be taken on the “back-lot” of the disney grounds. upon arriving at the theater, we were informed that the bathroom just down the hall from our dressing room was not ours to use (it was mickey’s bathroom) and we would need to exit the theater through the back door and head down the alley to use another restroom (that didn’t happen, and we ended up having personal “escorts” to mickey's bathroom when he was nowhere in sight.) and there were "disney police" everywhere, kindly making sure we didn't break any of their rules. (we considered inviting mickey into our dressing room, holding him down, taking off his "helmet" and submitting him to intense questioning, but the mouse was never without his own personal disney bodyguard.)

but perhaps the most surreal part of it all was rehearsal on thursday. as i mentioned, we performed a shortened version of our usual concert, there were several changes made for the disney audience, and mickey needed to be worked into the show.

thus, rehearsal with mickey.

and by rehearsal with mickey, i don’t mean rehearsal with the actor who plays mickey (someone we would never see.) i mean rehearsal with mickey.

at no time during rehearsal was mickey not mickey. backstage, he behaved like mickey. hanging around the dressing room – mickey. onstage, he took direction like mickey. he interacted with the conductor, the other performers, the orchestra members, and the stage crew, as mickey. this was not only a rehearsal for mickey, but a performance for the actor playing mickey.

talk about method.

the same was true with the other characters. at one point, when pluto, donald, pan, et. al. were exiting the theater backstage right, waving and…waving, goofy somehow got left behind. the “handlers” had led the other disney-ites around to their dressing room (in the exclusive mickey’s bathroom area) and goofy was abandoned in the wings. alone and confused, he looked in the direction of the dressing rooms, he looked back at us, he loped one way, then the other, and finally, threw his hands up in the air and plopped down on the floor, goofy-like.

when all was said and done, as we were standing on stage during the performance singing “when you wish upon a star” in japanese, with mickey mouse conducting the tokyo philharmonic, i noticed a young girl in the front row with huge tears rolling down her cheeks.

it would be easy to be cold and cynical about it all, if i hadn’t had huge tears welling up in my own eyes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

how can you say no to the fonz?

richie cunningham, the fonz, andy griffith, and even opie wants you to vote for barack obama.

yes. we can.

republicans like to mock obama's big speeches. what would it be like to have a president who can actually inspire us? we've had the opposite for far too long.

here is one of the reasons i support obama for president.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

mitake meal

our mt. mitake hike was preceded by several forms of transportation: commuter train, commuter train, local bus, and a cable car. it was also preceded by one of my favorite japanese meals:

tempura soba

soba, a type of thin japanese noodle made from buckwheat flour, is served either chilled with a dipping sauce, or in a bowl of hot tsuyu (broth) as a noodle soup. the hot broth in this instance is thinner than that used as a dipping sauce for chilled soba. sometimes garnished with sliced scallion and shichimi togarashi (mixed chilli powder) tempura soba is also topped with tempura, usually a large shrimp. yum.

smarter than a third grader?

sarah palin still doesn't know what the vice-president does. seriously.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

mitake boy

the most wonderful thing we saw today while hiking mt. mitake.

Monday, October 20, 2008


it changes daily, and it might very well be over on november 4th. whatever you do between now and election day, don't miss this.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

is there something wrong with being a muslim?

general colin powell gives the correct response to the "obama is a muslim" question:
"But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?"
someone should mention that to diane fanning. over the weekend, barack obama made a campaign stop at a fayetteville, north carolina diner:
Obama arrived at the barbecue joint around 12:30 p.m., where an older and majority white clientele of several dozen were eating lunch after church services. Many patrons applauded as he walked into the diner, but Diane Fanning, 54, began yelling “Socialist, socialist, socialist — get out of here!”

Obama came to the long table where Fanning and other members of a local First Presbyterian church were gathered. He held out his hand to her and asked, “How are you, ma’am?” but she declined to shake his hand.

In an interview, Fanning said, “I still think he’s a closet Muslim.”
with just over three weeks to go until the election, obama is in a diner in fayetteville, north carolina offering his hand to a woman who just called him a socialist, ordered him to "get out of here!" and thinks he's a "closet muslim."

that should tell you something about the man.

powell for obama

what's remarkable about this clip, aside from the endorsement itself, is what colin powell says to, and about, this country and this presidential campaign. it's a gripping speech, a stunning endorsement of obama, and a brutal assessment of not only the mccain campaign but the republican party as a whole. talk about a game changer.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

biden my time

more from the l.a. times endorsement:
(John Mccain's) selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate was, as a short-term political tactic, brilliant. It was also irresponsible, as Palin is the most unqualified vice presidential nominee of a major party in living memory.

Obama's selection also was telling. He might have scored a steeper bump in the polls by making a more dramatic choice than the capable and experienced Joe Biden. But for all the excitement of his own candidacy, Obama has offered more competence than drama.
you want drama? i'll show you drama. here's why joe biden was a brilliant pick for vice-president:


a st. louis crowd of 100,000 to hear barack obama speak.

mccain and the real plumber

forget joe, why isn't anyone asking grampa about his own domestic terrorist, liddy the plumber? oh wait...david letterman did. (you remember david letterman, of the "gotcha media".)

the school of comebacks and snappy retorts

virginia senator jim webb, on sarah palin greeting joe biden at the vice-presidential debate
"Gov. Palin turned around and said, 'Nice to meet you, can I call you Joe?' I was thinking, Joe, what you really outta do is say, 'Yeah, you can call me whatever you want. In two months, you're gonna be calling me Mr. Vice President.'"

on endorsing a candidate for president

michael smerconish, conservative radio talk show host:
"I've decided. My conclusion comes after reading the candidates' memoirs and campaign platforms, attending both party conventions, interviewing both men multiple times, and watching all primary and general election debates. For the first time since registering as a Republican 28 years ago, I'm voting for a Democrat for president."
the chicago tribune:
"On Nov. 4 we're going to elect a president to lead us through a perilous time and restore in us a common sense of national purpose.

The strongest candidate to do that is Sen. Barack Obama. The Tribune is proud to endorse him today for president of the United States. This is the first time the newspaper has endorsed the Democratic Party's nominee for president.

We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready."
the los angeles times:
"The Times without hesitation endorses Barack Obama for president.

The excitement of Obama's early campaign was amplified by (his) newness. But as the presidential race draws to its conclusion, it is Obama's character and temperament that come to the fore. It is his steadiness. His maturity. These are qualities American leadership has sorely lacked for close to a decade.

He is a consensus-builder, a leader...educated and eloquent, sober and exciting, steady and mature. He represents the nation as it is, and as it aspires to be."
the denver post:
"Republicans love to mock Obama's history as a community organizer. But here was a man with no money to offer, no patronage to dispense, no way to punish his opponents. All he could do was to work with people from all walks of life, liberals and conservatives, business people and the unemployed, and bring them together in common cause for a better community. Could there really be better preparation to reunite a worried and divided America to again pursue our "more perfect union"?

As novelist Christopher Buckley said in endorsing Obama, the Illinois senator 'has a first-rate intellect and a first-rate temperament.'

With the help and prayers of the American people, we believe those talents can also make Barack Obama a great president."

Friday, October 17, 2008

the emmy photos: jeff ircink

jeff ircink giving bruce johnson's emmy awards a smooch.

both of bruce johnson's emmy awards are for the children's animated television series "tutenstein." jeff is an actor, playwright, blogger, and closet republican who resides in california for the time being. he is an avid fisherman, a bit of a curmudgeon, and has a massive man-crush on brett favre. in high school jeff was awarded the patty villa award, and could not hold his liquor at newspaper layout parties.

john mccain version 1.0

the john mccain of old made an appearance at the al smith charity dinner thursday night. aside from being pretty damn funny (as was obama) mccain closed out his part of the evening with this lovely bit of graciousness:
"I don't want it getting out of this room, but my opponent is an impressive fellow in many ways. Political opponents can have a little trouble seeing the best in each other. But I've had a few glimpses of this man at his best and I admire his great skill, energy and determination. It's not for nothing, but he's inspired many folks in his own party and beyond. Senator Obama talks about making history and he's made quite a bit of it already.

There was a time when the mere invitation of an African-American citizen to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage and an insult. Today is a world away from the cruelty and prideful bigotry of that time - and good riddance. I can't wish my opponent luck, but I do wish him well."

Thursday, October 16, 2008

the phone rings...

...your mother answers, and she hears this:

it's happening in wisconsin, new mexico, virginia, maine, florida, missouri, north carolina, and elsewhere.

aren't you proud to be a republican?

UPDATE 10/18/08 – mccain is using the same robocall firm that smeared him in 2000.

UPDATE 10/19/08 republican senators hit mccain for the robocalls. but only because they're in tough re-election battles.  (there's motivation to have some integrity!)

"it's the plumber!"

channeling john mccain's entire campaign...

the plumber guy...jim, jack...whatever

could joe the plumber take hold and turn the mccain campaign around? how about senator obama, i am not george bush? how about the press, hungry for a big story, pushing a mccain comeback line?

by the way: the median expected salary for a typical plumber in the united states is $37,514. in other words, the average plumber, unmarried and without dependants, would get a $500 tax cut under barack obama. ($0 under john mccain.)

UPDATE 10/17/08 – say it ain't so, joe!

commenter jeff is right, mccain was talking about joe buying the small business he works for, and the above example would be for his individual income taxes.

but commenters christine, amy and aaron are also right: joe is not a licensed plumber, his first name is not joe, he's a registered republican, he owes some back taxes, and more than likely, even if he did purchase the plumbing business he works for, he would not have to pay higher taxes under Obama’s plan, and probably would be eligible for a tax cut.

more details here.

UPDATE 10/17/08 9:50 a.m – say it ain't so joe sam!

joe's name, samuel joseph wurzelbacher, is actually spelled incorrectly on his voter registration card (wurzelbacher is mistakenly spelled with an 'o' - worzelbacher.)

wouldn't it be ironic if poor ol' joe the plumber joe the guy who does plumbing work was purged from the voter rolls because of this error and didn't get to vote on november 4th?

getting spanked

from msnbc's first read – barack obama, this morning, at a fundraiser:
“For those of you who are feeling giddy or cocky and think this is all set, I just say one word. I guess it’s two words for you: New Hampshire. You know, I’ve been in these positions before where we were favored and the press starts getting carried away and we end up getting spanked. And so that’s another good lesson that Hillary Clinton taught me.”

the emmy photos: ashley kemp

this is ashley kemp, having a secret moment with christine lahti's emmy.

ashley is a talent scout for a nashville, tennessee modeling and acting school. she has lovely, long brown hair and a wonderful singing voice. she's won many awards in her lifetime, but is reluctant to talk about them. by the way, don't tell christine lahti that ashely took this photo, and don't tell lahti's husband thomas schlamme that ashley snapped a photo with his oscar.

long island smackdown II

polls taken immediately following the final obama/mccain debate showed obama trouncing mccain. the headline on the huffington post tonight: three for three. here are the results of several snap polls taken with undecided or independent voters. the question: who do you think won the debate tonight?
cnnobama 58% / mccain 31%
survey usaobama 56% / mccain 28%
cbsobama 53% / mccain 22%
timeobama 50% / mccain 24%
politicoobama 49% / mccain 46%
from fox news:
Virtually the entire Frank Luntz focus group on Fox News, which was staged tonight in Miami, said that Barack Obama won the debate. Luntz termed it a "clear majority," but not one person raised their hand when asked if they thought McCain won.

Said Luntz: "None had made a decision to support Sen. Obama before the debate, but more than half supported him after the debate. It was a good night for Barack Obama."
and from time's amy sullivan:
In politics it is generally not considered a good sign when voters are laughing at you, not with you. And by the end of the third and last presidential debate, the undecided voters who had gathered in Denver for Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg’s focus group were “audibly snickering” at John McCain’s grimaces, eye-bulging, and repeated references to “Joe the Plumber.”

The group of 50 uncommitted voters should have at least been receptive to McCain—Republicans and Independents outnumbered Democrats in the group by almost 4 to 1, and they started the evening with much warmer responses to McCain than to his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama. But by the time it was all over, so few of them had declared their support for McCain that there weren’t enough for Greenberg to separate them into a post-debate focus group. Meanwhile, the Obama supporters had to assemble in two different rooms to keep their discussion groups manageable.
results deeper within each of these polls show even more interesting results, like before and after favorability ratings. in each case, obama gained by huge margins, and mccain lost significant ground.

we'll see what tracking polls say in the coming days, and it's certainly not time to break out the champagne (or the non-alcoholic sparkling cider) but at this point it doesn't look good for mccain.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

long island smackdown

some quick thoughts on the final presidential debate:

mccain came out stronger than usual. he seemed revved up and prepared for a fight. obama seemed like himself. that said, i thought there was a pretty clear shift right around the ayers/acorn subject. when those didn't seem to ruffle obama, when in fact he discounted both pretty clearly and kept wanting to come back to issues, mccain, i think, never really recovered. he didn't lose it, but he never reached the heights he might have.

then there were mccain's facial reactions to obama's answers. similar to gore's sighing in 2000, they will be played on youtube over and over.

mccain often seems flustered, and confused, throwing out the kitchen sink. obama is much more clear, sometimes to the point of being boring. in this campaign, boring works. when mccain is condescending to obama, the right wing might like it, but i think independants are turned off.

it's just wrapping up, but i wouldn't be surprised to see opinion polls calling this a tie, or giving mccain a slight edge. still, in this environment, that's good for obama. there was no knockout punch.

mccain-san v. obama-san

i will be watching the final presidential debate from a tokyo hotel room this morning (japan is 14 hours ahead of hempstead, n.y.) and then immediately rushing off to a lengthy dress rehearsal (the dresses and the rehearsal will be lengthy) for the 2008 disney on classic tour (eight singers in tuxes and evening gowns, the tokyo philharmonic, and an evening of classic disney music.)

for all of you still dealing with wednesday night, good news: thursday morning is stunning (at least in tokyo.) in fact, if you stick your head tight into the corner of my window, the view includes a sliver of majestic mount fuji. (couldn't get it in the photo though.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

the emmy photos: roger bean

this is roger bean. he's fondling swoozie kurtz's emmy.

swoozie kurtz has been nominated for nine emmy awards, but she's won only once, for an appearance on carol burnett's short-lived 1990 series "carol and company." roger has not been nominated for an emmy award (yet) but has several l.a. ovation awards, a bowling trophy from a 1977 kenosha bowl-a-thon for muscular dystrophy, and a swimming medal from the sixth grade.

mccain pledges to whip obama

this is going to be john mccain's big comeback week folks, so hold onto your hats.
  • MONDAY: he's unveiling a new economic plan today giving an "i'm hitting reset on my entire campaign" speech (and why not try to completely remake yourself when there's less than three weeks to go until election day and we've endured the longest presidential campaign in history? i say – just in time grampa!)
  • TUESDAY: since mccain will already be in virginia for a huge rally with tina fey sarah palin, he might want to drop by the office of the virginia republican party chairman jeffrey m. frederic and have a little chat. (frederic has been busy telling mccain campaign volunteers how similar barack obama and osama bin laden are.)
  • WEDNESDAY: he's going to whip some obama ass in the debate (or so he says: "i'm going to whip my opponent's you-know-what." considering the hate that's been stirred up by his campaign recently, it's a truly unfortunate choice of words.)
  • THURSDAY: he's gonna grovel at david letterman's feet (which will be a huge deal, of course, following the big debate win on wednesday, remember, when mccain whips obama's ass. and yes, he really said that.)
  • ONGOING: to top it all off, matt drudge is shilling for mccain talking up the fact that there has been some narrowing in the polls. (guess matt didn't see this one.)
and speaking of polls: let's not count our chickens, but no candidate has ever lost with a lead like this since modern polling begain in 1936.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

palin's lies, palin's future

abc news' jake tapper wades his way through sarah palin's blatant lies about the tasergate troopergate report.
Palin spoke on the phone with Alaska reporters about the report. The McCain-Palin campaign only allowed one question per reporter. The journalists came from the Anchorage Daily News, KTVA-Channel 11 and KTUU-Channel 2. No follow-ups were allowed.

"Well, I’m very very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing," Palin said, "any hint of any kind of unethical activity there. Very pleased to be cleared of any of that."

That's just not the case.
and it doesn't get any better.

some thoughts: no one should be taking an obama win for granted. there's still plenty of time for a major shift, or a catastrophic blunder, or an october surprise. but should mccain lose the election, what becomes of palin and her future in national politics?

does she return to relative obscurity, resuming her role as alaska's governor? or does a mccain/palin loss in 2008 only give her momentum? we still actually know very little about her (although certainly more than mccain did when he picked her.) but in a very short time we've learned some rather unpleasant things, seen some unpleasant behavior. many people attending mccain rallies are leaving after palin speaks, not waiting around for the headliner. my guess is she's not going away, no matter what happens on the the fourth of november.

the emmy photos: katy blake

katy blake with the original inspiration: my friend barry's emmy.

friends have started sending me photos of themselves with emmy awards. taunting me, i suppose. "look, here i am with an emmy" or "i have an emmy, do you?" it's funny. i guess they think i'll be jealous or something. huh.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


what i'm doing in japan.

escape from the planet of no more

add conservative author and columnist christopher buckley, the son of william f. buckley jr. (yes, that william f. buckley jr.) to the no more list.

Friday, October 10, 2008

a lawful an unlawful abuse of power

not great news for alaska governor sarah palin:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - For the reasons explained in section IV of this report, I find that governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska stature 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act.
but the report also finds that her firing of the state public safety commissioner was a lawful exercise of her authority.

i wonder if she'll still be making that snl appearance?

UPDATE 8:17 pm – from what i can surmise, the act of firing public safety commissioner walt monegan was lawful. but according to the report, it was just a part of the abuse of power, which was unlawful. cnn is continually reporting that the investigation concludes "no laws were broken," which in fact is not the case. according to the report:
"Compliance with the code of ethics is not optional. It is an individual responsibility imposed by law, and any effort to benefit a personal interest through official action is a violation of that trust. ... The term ‘benefit' is very broadly defined, and includes anything that is to the person's advantage or personal self-interest."
palin has responded to the report through the mccain campaign and her attorney thomas van flein. van flein accuses the independent investigator steve branchflower and democratic senator hollis french, who oversaw the investigation, of using the report in an attempt to "smear the governor by innuendo."

smeared by innuendo. oh sarah. how does it feel? man!

talk about a cool, steady hand at the tiller.

after nearly a week of appearing to encourage such behavior, mccain is now asking his crowds to be "respectful," i.e. to not call obama a terrorist or shout things like "kill him" or "treason" or "off with his head!" (at least in public.) i wish he'd make up his mind.

from time's ana marie cox:
(McCain) just snatched the microphone out the hands of a woman who began her question with, "I'm scared of Barack Obama... he's an Arab terrorist..." *

"No, no ma'am," he interrupted. "He's a decent family man with whom I happen to have some disagreements."
one day the fundamentals of the economy are strong and then he's suspending his campaign to fix the crisis of a lifetime. he releases his new surprise mortgage bailout plan at a debate and then drastically changes it the next day. barack obama is a scary man with questionable associations with terrorists, or he's a decent family man whose accomplishments mccain admires.

that whole campaign must have whiplash it's so erratic.

more from talking points memo.

UPDATE 9:29 pmjosh marshall questions mccain's motives, seeing him as a man "desperately casting about and losing control of the situation itself."
"McCain... has the countenance of someone who's been forced to tell someone else they're sorry. There's some mix of gritting your teeth and saying something you don't want to say mixed with some sort of shamefacedness. Look at the video. Because while I feel like I intuitively 'get' the gestures I find it hard to quite capture them in words."
read josh's entire post and see the video here.

UPDATE 10:28 pmthe new york times agrees wholeheartedly with the whiplash idea:
"For the past several weeks, as the polls have shown Mr. Obama, the Democratic nominee, gaining increasing ground, Mr. McCain’s traveling road show has veered from message to message and from pumping up hostile crowds to trying to calm them down. Each news cycle seem to bring another tactic as the campaign appears to be trying anything and everything to see what might work."

* CORRECTION 10/12/08 – several sources now say the woman at the mccain rally did not say "arab terrorist," only "arab." watching the video, that seems to be correct. so mccain is responding to someone being called an "arab" by saying "no, no ma'am, he's a decent family man..."

when in doubt, go negative cute!

this made me quite happy.

in what the new york times calls a paint-peeling new ad against barack obama, john mccain goes even more negative! but the best part – and you have to watch the ad for this– at the end of the commercial, playing quietly underneath mccain saying "i'm grumpy mcgrumperson and i approved this message" is what? oh no, what is that? it's a JINGLE!

yes, john mccain now has his own tiny, yet unmistakable melody that will stick in your noodle just like those familiar notes for att, or the little bank of american vibraphone melody, or the yellow pages phone first, or intel inside!

throughout most of the spot, the music is ominous and scary, the images dark and spooky. then, seemingly out of nowhere, it's cute! happy! positive! it's mccain is saying, "see world? those guys are icky and evil! but me? i'm as happy as a teletubby!"

seriously, i watched this ad about five times this morning just to hear the sweet little tune that from this day forward will forever make the think, "john mccain."

UPDATE 10/11/08newsweek finds the ad is "groundless, false, and dubious."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

the new meme, the old mccain

since the economic crisis became the big campaign issue, republican strategists and pundits have been everywhere telling the american public that if mccain loses, it'll be because of the economy. it's been part of their "this is why we could lose" mix for a while now, but the closer we get to election day, the more it shifts to the forefront as the main excuse. i.e. there's no way any republican could win in this economic climate.

i return to a point i made in an earlier post: when you see these two men together on stage, there is no question which brings to mind "change." it would be a totally different story if the republican party had chosen mitt romney or mike huckabee as their candidate.

that mccain often looks like a teetering, erratic, out of touch old man has as much to do with why he might lose as any bad economy. choosing to go 100% negative doesn't help, either. there's a difference between fussy, stubborn old man and mean, vindictive, angry old man. the latter is the one i see on the stump.

in 2000 i seriously considered voting for mccain. i wrote to him, telling him i admired him and thought he might make a good president. i even got a response.

from my limited perspective, i don't know where that john mccain is. this is a completely different man than the one i sent that heartfelt letter to. in fact, if anyone in this race embodies "change," it's mccain. it's just a stunning, and unfortunate change.

火 曜 日

one year ago today, october 9, 2007, i posted this from japan. tomorrow, i spend 14 hours on a plane traveling to tokyo's narita airport, arriving on friday at 4:30 p.m. tokyo time. i'm looking forward to another two months in the land of the rising sun.
(blankets drying in the mountain air, hiking mount mitake, outside of tokyo.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

i'm looking through you

the weekend before the mccain campaign announced that sarah palin's daughter bristol was pregnant, there were rumours swirling around certain parts of the blogosphere about the parentage of another palin: baby trig.

since then, andrew sullivan has been accused of being a major part of circulating those rumours, when in fact he's only been asking for medical records of trig palin's birth, nothing more. not that different, actually, from the transparency sarah palin demanded and got from her opponent while running for mayor of wasilla, alaska:
In her first race for mayor of Wasilla, she demanded the marriage license of her opponent be made public. Why? Because his wife kept her maiden name - and Palin deemed that sufficiently unusual to demand total transparency. If that level of transparency is necessary for the race for Wasilla mayor, why is it "unspeakable" for the vice-presidency of the United States? Is being mayor of Wasilla more significant than possibly being US president?

sullivan hasn't given up. and strangely enough, has yet to come up with any public record of trig palin's birth.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

the great awkward debate

some thoughts tonight's debate:
  • sparks: for all the pre-debate talk about sparks flying, aggression and taking the gloves off, it was pretty darn boring and kinda awkward. i kept waiting for mccain to slug obama or call him a terrorist.
  • that one: mccain referred to obama as "that one" at one point. not senator obama, or even barack. "that one." does anyone else find that completely, utterly offensive?
  • economics 101: i thought obama explained the economic crisis much more clearly than any candidate has so far. and he answered that man's question about the bailout package, and did it without being condescending, like mccain.
  • it's a right: mccain thinks health care in this country is a "responsibility." obama thinks it is a right.
  • grampa gets lost: mccain looked equal parts burgess meredith as the penguin, dick cheney, richard nixon, and the hunchback of notre dame. didn't it seem like he was just sort of wandering around upstage during a lot of obama's answers? several times he looked like a nursing home patient who'd lost his walker. i'm completely serious.
  • change: barack obama is taller, younger, and has a much prettier smile. john mccain is...well...the penguin. he's got physical issues related to his being tortured as a p.o.w. and that's terrible. but if the topic is "change," and you've got these two men standing on stage together, well..."one of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong."
  • polls: two snap polls immediately after the debate showed obama winning:
    cbs – obama 40%, mccain 26%
    cnn – obama 54%, mccain 30%
  • the handshake: from time magazine:
    "Did you see that moment at the end, when Obama and McCain were working the room with their wives? Obama seemed to move towards McCain, as if he wanted to exchange a few words. McCain pointed to his wife, telling Obama to shake Cindy's hand. McCain then turned away."
    i thought they shook hands right at the end of the when brokaw asked them to not block his teleprompter?
  • gamechanger: it wasn't. for mccain, that is. for obama, i think it solidifies his support, and his image as a strong, thoughtful and stable leader. i bet his poll numbers continue a slow, steady rise. is mccain saving rezko and ayers for the last debate? a last resort?

is it about race? you betcha!

at a campaign rally in new mexico monday, when john mccain asked the crowd, "who is the real barack obama?" a loud shout came from the crowd –"a terrorist!"

a momentary, quizzical look flashes across mccain's face: he's clearly heard the response. but he doesn't sway from his script. he smiles, and goes right on.

this is not the same as a voter asking mccain "how do we beat the bitch?" referring to hillary clinton. during the primaries, mccain, faced with that question, basically answered it without suggesting for a moment that political discourse in our country might be held to a higher standard. today, standing in front of a cheering, angry crowd, mccain let the "terrorist" comment go. and by doing so, owns it.

later in the day at a florida rally, sarah palin continued to do her best to link barack obama to 60's radical bill ayers. in the midst of the event, a voice from the crowd can be heard yelling, "kill him!"

reporters at the event say they could not determine if the attack was meant for ayers, or obama.

more from the washington post's dana milbank:
In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric's questions for her "less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media." At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, "Sit down, boy."
neither mccain nor palin did anything to quell these reactions, they encouraged them. will either respond to these situations? absolutely: with more mud, and lies, and cheerleading.

watching this 72-year old white man, and a cutesy, former t.v. sports reporter rile up crowds with this kind of bile is not only pathetic, it makes me sick to my stomach. this is the woman who is full of "dog gonnits" and "you betchas" and sassy winks and shout-outs. remember, she's "just like me!" this is the war hero who has based his entire campaign on his own integrity, who earlier this year said the american people didn't want this kind of campaign. remind me, which candidate is bringing out the best in people, and which is bringing out the worst?

my friends, the vast majority of american people are good, and smart, and see this as exactly what it is: hatred, anger and sheer desperation.

UPDATE 5:06 p.m. – josh marshall at talking points memo checked in with dana milbank today, to see if he would elaborate on his experience covering the mccain/palin rallies. the crowds aren't reserving their hatred for obama:
"None of this is new, but the degree of intensity is different," Milbank says. "It's taken an uglier turn. I've been doing this for years, and there's never been anything quite like this."

Milbank says that after the Palin attacked the New York Times and Katie Couric in her stump speech yesterday in Florida, he and other reporters were pelted with boos, with some saying things like "screw you" and "fucking liberal media."
today included a supporter at a palin rally yelling "treason!"

news reports said both sides were preparing for an agressive town hall style debate in nashville tonight. we'll see if anyone in the crowd yells "terrorist!" or "kill him!" or "treason!" while it's going on. wonder how mccain would handle that?

(also: the links BT requested are now live in the post.)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

i see your ayers and raise you five keatings

the obama campaign is aggressively hitting john mccain on the keating five scandal with the launch of a "microsite" that will include a 13-minute documentary about the entire affair.

the new website, keating economics: john mccain and the making of a financial crisis, is the obama campaign's swift answer to mccain's eagerness to regurgitate william ayres and tony rezko. this is a move that had been predicted by columnists, pundits, and fellow politicians long ago: if mccain goes after an ayers/rezko/obama connection, obama has every right to bring up keating. the difference being that the ayres/rezko allegations are extremely tenuous. keating five is fact.

the scandal involved a 1989 senate ethics investigation into corruption charges against five united states senators, including mccain, and turned into a major political scandal that was part of the larger savings and loan crisis of the late 80s, early 90s.

the website went live late sunday night with a 30-second "trailer" for a 13-minute documentary, covering mccain's involvement in the keating scandal and the parallels with the current economic crisis, that will begin running monday at noon eastern. the website's message, according to the obama campaign, is that "the failed philosophy and culture of corruption that created the savings and loan crisis are alive in the current crisis, and in john mccain's plans for our economic future."

calamity, perplexity, and failure

the new yorker lays out the case for obama fairly and squarely (as fairly and squarely as a northeast liberal elite publication can) and they come to what is becoming a broken record of a conclusion:
At a moment of economic calamity, international perplexity, political failure, and battered morale, America needs both uplift and realism, both change and steadiness. It needs a leader temperamentally, intellectually, and emotionally attuned to the complexities of our troubled globe. That leader’s name is Barack Obama.
intellectually and emotionally attuned to the complexities of our troubled globe?

yoo betcha! (wink)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

the maverick myth

while the mccain campaign launches headlong into 100% negative campaigning for the next 30 days – attempting once again to find an indelible link between 60's radical william ayers and barack obama (something even the new york times had a hard time coming up with, concluding "the two men do not appear to have been close") – a new rolling stone article debunks mccain's maverick title by, get this, actually talking to people who know him:
"(The maverick title is) a myth McCain has cultivated throughout his decades in Washington. But during the course of this year's campaign, the mask has slipped. 'Let's face it,' says Larry Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel who served as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. 'John McCain made his reputation on the fact that he doesn't bend his principles for politics. That's just not true.' "
the article, which reads like historical biography, digs way, way deep into mccain's past and includes fascinating and extremely telling details of his time as a prisoner of war, his failed first marriage, his wealthy second wife, the keating five scandal, and his hot-headed temperament.

it's a must read.

don't throw your back out

tonight, cnn's new "beyond the politics" included a discussion of how the rest of the world views the united states of america. host bill bennet claimed opinion polls show "lots of countries in western europe aren't so sure" about us, but the highest opinion of america can be found in "certain african countries." quoting bill frist and daniel patrick moynihan, bennet said, "people who receive american generosity know what kind of country this is."

the discussion then shifted to the premise that the united states is at it's core a fundamentally moral while at the same time an incredibly humble country. neoconservative david gelernter had this to say about the u.s. being non-self-congratulatory:
"the fact is we do not brag. i mean, i think that's one of the reasons we are so poorly understood in the world. since when do we get up and claim credit for what we have done in iraq? we don't go around the world saying 'look at us, we have invested our army and our wealth in bringing democracy to this far-away arab country.' we don't say that. nor have we said it about afghanistan. i mean, you do need a bit of patting yourself on the shoulder – you gotta teach your children what your principles are."
so ultimately, the world should be thanking us for what we've done in iraq.

if in 20 years iraq has become strong, stable democracy and other middle eastern countries are following suit, perhaps history will judge the current war and the current administration differently. perhaps.

to suggest, however, that we are a humble country for not taking credit for an end result we might possibly reach far off into the future seems to me to be the epitome of arrogance. gelernter has already written the history book, given himself credit for democracy in iraq, and is at risk of throwing his back out "patting himself on the shoulder" for his own modesty.

let me also say that both gelernter and host bill bennet could stand to spend some time on a treadmill.

o.j. simpson found guilty

o.j. simpson was found guilty this morning on 12 counts of first degree kidnapping, burglery, armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon.

a sentencing date of december 5th has been set. simpson will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

it was 13 years ago to the day that a los angeles jury acquitted him of the murders of his ex-wife nicole brown simpson and her friend ronald goldman.

how do you feel about this? didn't opinions about the original murder trial fall mainly along racial lines? do you remember the trial? johnny cochran. that surfer guy with the hair who now shows up on entertainment shows. marsha whats-her-name. the gloves.

it was all 13 years ago. and in 30 days or so, we may elect our countries first african-american president. does this mean...what? we've come a long way?

when this verdict was read in a las vegas courtroom tonight, simpson shifted and looked up with a bit of a smirk. sort of a knowing smirk.

what was he thinking?

Friday, October 3, 2008

the moment

the moment of the debate that provided a clear "shift" for me was when joe biden talked about his family history, almost as much for what joe biden said as for what sarah palin failed to say. this was her opportunity, i think, to show some class, some compassion, some empathy. instead she went right back to her notecards.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

best supporting actress

tonight, sarah palin wins some award, somewhere, for best supporting actress.

pundits will say nobody won the vice-presidential debate. folks who were cheering for palin will think she won, or at least didn't lose, and supporters of obama/biden will think biden won hands down.

she sure is folksy. for me (and get your surprised face ready) she actually didn't do as well as i thought she might. i honestly expected a knockout punch somewhere.

in reality, i thought she was condescending, far too cute, got several facts wrong – facts that i knew were wrong as i was watching the debate, not something i had to look up on – and didn't answer question after question. there was, however, attack line after attack line. all sounding, to me, incredibly rehearsed.

which brings me to my initial point: i didn't buy it. and i don't buy her.

as an actor, i think there is a threshold you pass when rehearsing, or performing a role. the moment when the lines, the words, no longer belong to the playwright but to you, the actor inhabiting the role. i think i've only been there maybe twice in my life. i don't know if it made any difference to my performance. i would hope. i know it felt different to me.

i also know, when i'm in an audience, i feel it. i feel when an actor is – not "phoning it in", that's a different thing – but when an actor is acting. instead of being.

i think sarah palin was a good little actress tonight. i think she knew her lines (even though she may not have had her notecards in exactly the right order) and she delivered most of them fairly well. but i don't think she understands a lick of what she says. unless she's talking about her family, her home life, her experiences in alaska, or her personal beliefs (i.e. when she talks about her abortion stance or her faith, she is sincere, honest, and passionate. when she talks about anything she really knows, she looks like a real person and i get it.)

but the lines they've crammed into her head about foreign policy, the economy, john mccain's record, iraq, iran, and the rest...are just that – lines crammed into her head.

the problem is this: plenty of crappy actors win standing ovations, glowing reviews, high-paying jobs, and awards all the time. and you wouldn't want any of them to be the vice-president of the united states either.