At night I ride a scorpion
And fight the gnats with blades of grass;
A minute seminarian
Communes me from a demitasse.

--Alvin Krinst, 1989


A Modest Proposal

If Obama wins, the racists and bigots who think it's morally suspect
to be a different color or religion move to another country. Really.
Go away, live elsewhere, hate elsewhere. Nothing here for you anymore.

And that goes for the racists and bigots in the media. Fox will be hiring...


November comes

"November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring."
-  Clyde Watson


Went to the Obama rally today. Pretty far in the back, with two small kids, but it was high energy and fun.

David Sirota has a nice blog piece about it, and I love the image he created.


Two Kinds of People in the World

Those who feel the need to tell you they read the New York Times Book Review.

And those who don't feel such a need.


Separating the "Pro-America" Areas from the "Anti-America" Parts

Joe McCarthy, reborn as the GOP VP for 2008.

Sarah Palin at a fundraiser in North Carolina, Oct. 16, 2008 as reported by Washington Post:

"We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans. Those who are running our factories and teaching our kids and growing our food and are fighting our wars for us. Those who are protecting us in uniform. Those who are protecting the virtues of freedom."

Now, Sarah, would you consider as "Pro America" that part of Alaska which supports the secessionist group to which your husband belonged and which you praised in a speech?


Reminiscence: The New Yorker Contest I Won

In the early 1990's, SAAB ran a regular (yearly?) contest in the New Yorker. A New Yorker artist would create a cartoon and readers were invited to submit captions. In 1993, I entered and won, the top entry of 2000 entries. My prize was a 6 month lease (with insurance) of a new SAAB of my choice, a trip to NYC for two, with a stop at the Liberty Science Center in NJ for the unveiling of SAAB's new model, dinner and a room at the Algonquin hotel, and a tour the next day of the New Yorker magazine.

Here's a photo of the cartoon (below) and one of me with the car (above).


Alaska Independent Party: "My government is my worst enemy"

From Salon:

Oct. 7, 2008 | "My government is my worst enemy. I'm going to fight
them with any means at hand."

This was former revolutionary terrorist Bill Ayers back in his old
Weather Underground days, right? Imagine what Sarah Palin is going to
do with this incendiary quote as she tears into Barack Obama this

Only one problem. The quote is from Joe Vogler, the raging
anti-American who founded the Alaska Independence Party.
Inconveniently for Palin, that's the very same secessionist party
that her husband, Todd, belonged to for seven years and that she sent
a shout-out to as Alaska governor earlier this year. ("Keep up the
good work," Palin told AIP members. "And God bless you.")


Deep Thoughts about First Prez Debate

Never mentioned:

How stretched military is.

The kind of example the preemptive war policy of
Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Kristol et al. has set for other countries, such
as Russia.


The potential need for a military draft.

Thanks Jim Lehrer. I suppose those questions would have been too impolite.

The Day I Decided to Vote for Poppy Bush (ahem)


This was an answering machine message that Glenn Rawson and I created in our apartment back in 1992.

It was spontaneous, unrehearsed, and recorded on an old answering machine.


Straight Talk Express = MIA


September 24, 2008, NYT
McCain Aide's Firm Was Paid by Freddie Mac

WASHINGTON - One of the giant mortgage companies at the heart of the
credit crisis paid $15,000 a month from the end of 2005 through last
month to a firm owned by Senator John McCain's campaign manager,
according to two people with direct knowledge of the arrangement. The
disclosure undercuts a statement by Mr. McCain on Sunday night that
the campaign manager, Rick Davis, had had no involvement with the
company for the last several years.


If A Lie is Repeated Often Enough...

2008, multiple times:

"You're gonna hear a lot about the abusive practice of earmarks in Congress from our good senator here. We championed in Alaska reform of the old earmark process. I told Congress, `Thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge To Nowhere up in Alaska. If our state wanted a bridge, we were gonna build it ourselves." (Lebanon, PA, 9-9-08)


In September [20th], 2006, Sarah Palin showed up in Ketchikan on her gubernatorial campaign and said the bridge was essential for the town's prosperity."



Mark Udall answers my question on You Tube

I got an email invitation to submit a question to Mark Udall, who's running for Senate in Colorado.

Here's my question:


Here's his reply:



Palin's Attack on Community Organizing

Great line heard on Friday, September 5, 2008 Diane Rehm Show:

"Jesus was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was a governor."


Are Palin Supporters Actually Traitors?

Imagine: you're a Republican. You honestly believe that the country
is "at war." You honestly believe that security is the number one
issue when it comes to choosing a leader. You also know that McCain
is a cancer survivor and is 72 years old. How can you make the
security argument *to yourself* let alone proclaiming it to everyone
else? By promoting an argument for a VP that hurts the country's
security, aren't you, in fact, acting as one of America's greatest


The series ending of The Sopranos

Posted to http://coleslawblog.blogspot.com/2007/06/seven-reasons-why-theories-that-tony.html today.

My wife and I just finished the series on Netflix last night. This thread is one of the most thoughtful and intelligent series of posts.

I'm ambivalent about what happened, but I'm pretty sure that's the intended ending. Like a great painting, no one can say what it finally means. ("Starry Night" is about insanity in the country--would be an example of how some art defies final interpretations.)

My own intuition (and that's all it is) is that the tension and apprehension that comes with being a Soprano is the lot of this family. Tony will always be watching the door, the stranger, etc. Carmela will always be spouting homilies out of denial. In this regard, I suppose I read the show as CrimeNotes does. As an anti-genre series that wants to use the mafia to bring out the ennui and anxiety of trying to make it in America.

I'll add one final thought for a pet theory which I was convinced of just as the show ended. The FBI Arrest Theory. Here goes: the show is realist. It mirrors real world events. In the real world, the mob in the NYC and NJ area was largely fractured and then disassembled by the FBI. Times are changing--the lawyer says something to Tony about "this day coming" and Meadow's boyfriends revelation that one can make 170k/year doing criminal work just shows that the culture is now rewarding attorneys more than mobsters. White collar crime is the big fish, now--and Tony, Junior, etc. are all becoming dinosaurs before the viewers eyes. The end of a family, so to speak, mostly caused by the history rather than gunfire.

Again, my central point is not to take a firm stand on the ending, but to argue that the ambiguity of the ending is endemic to all great works of art. Thus, there must be a multiplicity of possibilities, always possible for the different ways different people would construe the various pieces of evidence on which they need/choose to focus. This is the arc and message (if you can call it that) of the entire series. Day to day life. That's the end.


Kristol and the Cone of Silence

To the Public Editor:

Re: Showdown at Saddleback By WILLIAM KRISTOL, published: August 17, 2008

The correction offered about Kristol's baseless assertion that there was no basis for the Obama campaigns assertion that McCain was not in a "cone of silence" did not explain why Kristol took his position.

The Times, I'm sure you know, wrote:

Correction: August 19, 2008:
In some editions of his column on Monday about the presidential forum at Saddleback Church in California, William Kristol said that there seemed to be no basis for charges that John McCain was not in a “cone of silence” during Barack Obama’s interview with the Rev. Rick Warren, and could therefore have heard questions posed first to Senator Obama. Senator McCain was in a motorcade for part of Senator Obama’s interview. A statement from his campaign said that he “never heard or saw any of Senator Obama’s appearance.”

Kristol has a history of stating, as fact, what he *wishes* to be true without full information. But when he's caught making a groundless assertion, he rarely owns his mistake.

It would be nice if the Times would issue corrections that fully own the mistakes made by its employees, if their employees are not going to own them, themselves. (Why are such people employed by the Times, anyway?)


My Funny Kid, Nicholas, 4 1/2 Years Old

August 30, 2008

Nick: [Skipping around] Can I watch PBS kids?
Dave: Nick, it looks like you want to run and play.
Nick: I'm running to the TV!

August 27, 2008:

Margaret: Nick, do you think you'd want to be President when you grow up?
Nick: No I don't want to be President.
Margaret: Why not?
Nick: Well, maybe after I lost my job as a train conductor.

Hillary Hails McCain's VP Pick? Huh?

Boy I wish Molly Ivin's was still around.

Consider Hillary's first words about the selection of Palin for VP:


Statement from Sen. Hillary Clinton on Sen. McCain's VP selection
“We should all be proud of Governor Sarah Palin's historic nomination, and I congratulate her and Senator McCain. While their policies would take America in the wrong direction, Governor Palin will add an important new voice to the debate.”

I really have to wonder why we "should all be proud." It's not just Palin's policies that are wrong for the country--she's also completely unqualified to be Presdient.

Should we have been proud of the pick of Dan Quayle as pick for VP by Bush I? If you say "no" to that, then why would we be proud of Palin? It simply cannot be because she's an unqualifed woman.

See Gail Collins' on this last point: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/30/opinion/30collins-.html?ref=todayspaper

We need Molly Ivin's more than ever to comment on this one.



McCain Merchandise for Students Includes Free Misspelling

Student's For McCain! I guess this is McCain asking in his own special way: "Is our children learning?"

See it here: http://store.johnmccain.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=PNR2879


McCain: Compensate Me with the Presidency

McCain is the true affirmative action candidate. His campaign is predicated on people voting for him out of pity. Because he was a POW. His argument is, "I suffered, so compensate me by making me President." He wants preferential treatment as a sufferer.

My question is: didn't he get enough from his beer baroness heiress? Why does he need more compensation? There IS NO compensation for that kind of suffering, and millions of Americans already know this.

He's a man-child, never healed, angry inside.


Ben Stein and the New York Times

Letter I wrote to the NYTimes public editor.

Maybe the Times should hire Ann Coulter, next.

Dear Mr. Hoyt,

It's hard enough to get people to think moderately and critically without one the the Times regular business columnists asserting that science leads to genocide.

There's a piece in the National Review, here.

Stein: When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers [i.e. biologist P.Z. Myers], talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.

Crouch: That’s right.

Stein: …Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.

Crouch: Good word, good word.

So, I suppose the question is, does Mr. Stein use science in his economics or is it pure alchemy, astrology, and wishful thinking?

Help us understand how Mr. Stein is Fit to Print?