Friday, October 31, 2008

Rachel Maddow is My Darling, But Once Upon a Time She was Wrong

This is from March in a conversation with blatherwatch. The interesting thing about her comments is that her criticisms of what Democrats usually do to blow elections are correct. That Obama avoided these .... My word choice suggests sidestepping, as if avoiding a speeding car. What Obama did was more like what a matador does. He didn't just step aside, he held his ground and diverted the attacks. He fought back, maddening the bull it would seem, who charged again and bled again. He was more than he seemed to be, tougher and smarter and more than a vain hope.

Rachel Maddow: "McCain will win."

"McCain is going to win. ... Unless something really drastic happens on the Democratic side, I think McCain sails to a big 51% win."

Rachel Maddow (KPTK m-f, 3-5p ) is not optimistic about Democrats in November. Maddow_40207_ipod4_2_3She spoke with BlatherWatch Tuesday.

She says it's a matter of Democrats' "campaign malpractice."

"[McCain) will enthusiastically embrace not only Bush -- but Cheney, and run as a bellicose, warmongering adult. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama will have firmly established themselves in the mind of the electorate as squabbling kids who don't deserve the office."

The Air America Talk host and MSNBC analyst admits being a cynic about elections; and November's a long way off, but, she says, "John McCain has had a long career being tongue-kissed by the press, and there's no signs of that abating. The stuff he's getting a free ride on are unconscionable. [The Democrats] are letting John McCain win -- it's campaign malpractice."

We talked to Maddow directly after Obama's big defensive speech on race.

Did the speech help him? It was too early to know when we spoke, but Maddow says, "It aimed high, that's great." Despite it was a difficult topic that makes people uncomfortable, he resisted, she says, "making a Mitt Romney lowest common denominator pablum speech."

He said America is still segregated in a number of ways, says Maddow. "White people and black people say things in their own communities they don't say to each other. And there's a whole lot of anger on both sides and the anger is understandable. That's got us into this rut -- this racially divided rut we can't get out of if we keep talking about it in the same old way."

It was ambitious, she says. But by presenting a nuanced view of race, and not pandering, or patronizing, he asked a lot of the American people.

We wondered if the speech effective with average voters? Maddow asks, "Are we really as capable of absorbing the nuance, complexity and difficult truths as this speech implies Obama thinks we are?"

Obama's negatives were over 50% for the first time in the polls after his pastor problems emerged. Maddow: "If he's able to tamp that down, or bring his positives back up again to counteract those negatives I guess we'll see it."

But, she says, this train wreck could have been avoided. "This is worth talking about as a political blunder. Just in terms of the Obama campaign not having adequately inoculated against this controversy... because they knew it was coming."

It's amazing to me that this got out though Bryan Ross on ABC News. We know how he got this stuff: the sermons were for sale! If you're running for president, and you know your pastor is controversial, and his sermons are for sale, you better be the one who buys them, not ABC."

While the kiddies are squalling, making new messes and providing fresh footage for Republican attack ads, McCain has "... lobbyists running his campaign; was one of the Keating 5; he's incoherent on everything from the economy to the war, which is his signature issue," says Maddow. "His best friend is Joe Lieberman!"

Although Obama has shown his electability by how well as he's done in the primaries, she says Barack has never demonstrated an ability to survive a contest with a Republican "and all the slime and lies" that go with one.

"Hillary's actively presaging some of that -- she's gone after him in a very Republican way. But he's not doing great at defending himself."

They'll continue as they have now for more than a month more, she says. "John McCain is being romanced by the press and can get away with anything. They won't have an appetite for hitting him that's any stronger than their appetite for hitting each other."

Maddow says there are a million reasons McCain should be beatable, but he now has the power of the Republican electoral machine behind him.
"The Democrats apparently don't have one of those machines, so even if he were Alfred E . Neuman, he wins."

101 Reasons McCain Should Win (Even If He Doesn't)

I can't think of any, but it's more fun not thinking of 101.

From Firedoglake Via Daily Kos

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Students Are Writing All Snug at Their Desks

A little after 8 p.m. in the lab where my basic journalism class is lodged. I've given out a meeting transcript, and the young'uns are crafting a meeting story. It's the old stand-by you've seen in so many guises in so many journalism classes: the meeting where the majority want to censor books.

One hopes that the students avoid the obvious mistake: editorializing to please teacher, who clearly never met a book he didn't like. Or like around, anyway. That is my idea of a fine retirement, digging into all those books I swore I would get to someday. But -- happiness? sadness? -- I'm sufficiently forget that I could just as well spend my days rereading all the books I read before, finding a newness from the perspective of my oldness.

Now, however, one does not think about retirement. One is filled with gratitude that there are students out there tip-tapping their way through the tangles of disagreement so lovingly balanced in this artificial exercise. I'd give them all A's if I could. But I can't and not because it would be a cheat to do so. It would be an ugly thing to do just for love and money.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Colin Powell Talked About It. I Found It at Huffington Post.

This is the picture of Elsheba Khan, taken by Platon for the New Yorker. It's from a slide show.

La Salon is Fini

After a raucous evening as with the day after a natural disaster, you awake among the debris.

The difference is that some of the salon debris is edible, so one cleans and grazes, grazes and cleans.

(One does not empty the dregs of the party glasses into one glass and drink it down. One is not a skinflint or a boozer in denial.)

I believe the salon was something of a success, not perhaps too far distant from a triumph, there somewhere in the shadow of the stupendous. More of that later in the week.

Back to the ruins of the night.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

John Keats, Political Counselor

Speaking (I guess) maybe about philosophy -- or it could be poetry -- he refers to:

Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason

So now I apply it to myself and this political season. If you believe that pollsters are applying the right screens -- likelihood of voting; ratio of Dems to Repubs to Indies among those who are likely to vote; likelihood that at least some of those who say one thing will, in fact, do another -- then, sure, barring some cataclysmic event from outside the natural motion of the campaign during the next two weeks BH Obama wins.

But I am not confident about all these variables, particularly the last one. So I speculate, analyze, try to tease out the "logic" of the illogical and derive my own vector of outcome. Keats was right. Thinking will not make it so. Time to watch and wait. Or to write a check and volunteer, of course. If it is to come, it will come. Ripeness is all.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Moment of Clarity

It's Joe the Plumber's Helper.

There's what they call Downstream Risk in jumping to conclusions.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Joe the Plumber Must Work Very Hard. Or He Gets Big Tips. From the Ladies.

Because says:

The median expected salary for a typical Plumber I in the United States is $37,514. This basic market pricing report was prepared using our Certified Compensation Professionals' analysis of survey data collected from thousands of HR departments at employers of all sizes, industries and geographies.

Data as of July 2008

Plumber I 25th%ile Median 75th%ile
the United States $32,703 $37,514 $44,281
IMPORTANT: Your pay can be dramatically affected by compensable factors such as employer size, industry, employee credentials, years of experience and others.

Apparently, in the EU the "Polish plumber" is a figure of fun, which this ad turns on its head.


Hmmm. I'm Glad I'm Wrong.

Maybe it's our small screen TV. I figured the angrier and crazier McCain got, the more America would like it. How did we become such pussies?

I mean, I knew I was a pussy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Reference is to Once-Upon-a-Time Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards

From Nate Silver at

McCain now has to go on a run of his own, a large enough run to wipe at least 8 points off of Obama's lead, and perhaps more like 9 or 10 to cover his inferior position in the Electoral College and the votes that Obama is banking in early and absentee balloting. It is imperative that McCain does not just draw tomorrow night's debate, does not just win a victory on points, but emerges with a resounding victory, the sort that leaves the spin room gasping for air. Failing that, we are getting into dead girl, live boy territory.

Something Salonish This Way Comes

Big poetry salon this Saturday, the first in a long time. The theme is "Politics and...," which simply reflects the fact not everyone keeps on theme, nor would we wish them to.

A problem: Some of the great salon stars -- your Pressman, your Wieder, even your Koppy -- are long gone from this place or otherwise unavailable, so I've been hustling to think of something good to do. I settled on Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural Address. To my surprise, I can't get through it without starting to weep.

Well, there you go. You always want to promise fireworks at a salon, but waterworks?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Update

They say Oliver's picture will be up soon!

I Hold On to Our Mutual Funds. I Sell Nothing.

And I begin to wonder if we will have a comfortable old age. I am not what you would call a hard worker. I am a plugger. I do what needs to be done and perhaps a little more, but I have always stopped to smell the flowers. If there are no flowers, I wander off the path and look for them. So I have always had a bit of fun as I move along. At the moment, that seems to have been wise.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Speak Softly and Drive the University Van

Monday might in downtown San Francisco with the Reporting class, now Tuesday night in beautiful Oakland at Oakland City Council with the Advanced Reporting class.

(And that is an *impudent* name, isn't it?)

I used to do this every semester, but I've been absent awhile because I haven't taught the course in awhile.

As such meetings go, this one was terrific. Cab drivers were complaining about the "gate," that is the price they pay to drive a cab whose medallion belongs to one of Oakland's big cab companies. Companies were complaining about how running cabs in Oakland is a mug's game, given the fact you've got too many bad neighborhoods and "granny" trips to the market to get groceries and not enough long hauls to local airports.

Of course, the drivers had the same gripes, but from the shorter end of the stick.

Council was trying to help out the struggling cabbies and to soothe the recalcitrant owners while trying to make sure that Oakland cabs agreed to go into the city's dangerous neighborhoods 24/7. The competing interests were clear. The outcome was a compromise that may make no difference at all. (If I find that anyone actually wrote about it, I'll link to it.)

This is the way it works, kids. Blood may be the price of freedom, but boredom is, too.

Monday, October 06, 2008

You're a Good Man, Charlie Robertson

DATE: Monday, October 6, 2008 TIME:5:15 p.m. - Reception 6:00 p.m.

PROGRAM: “No Obits’ and Matthew Shepard, Ten years later: A Forum on Gay Journalism”
WHERE: Commonwealth Club of California 595 Market Street , 2nd Floor
SPONSORS: Commonwealth Club of California National Lesbian, Gay Journalism Association, Northern California Chapter

Took my reporting class to this tonight, paid for the tickets and the parking. They are doing speech stories this week, and I wanted them to cover an event that involved pain, loss and passion, not one of those deals involving a speaker who pretends to care talking to an audience that pretends to listen.

I will not venture to sum up the evening, which would be too much like work, particularly after a late night and a long day. Also, it would be *hard* to sum it up. Indeed, it was educational (I hope) for the kids to hear the moderator attempt more than once to wrest the nine count'em nine panelists back onto what he considered to be the agreed-upon topic and then to watch and listen as the panelists spread out a buffet, a cornucopia of tart criticisms of the MSM (expected), Bill Clinton and the Defence of Marriage Act (reasonable), drug use in the gay community (okay; I see your point) and big San Francisco gay organizations that love the real estate moguls who fund them more than the homeless gays living in wretchedness (well, there you go).

Plus a dozen, two dozen, three dozen more asides, interjections and mots provocateur.

A little more than a little is by much too much? Nah. We're talking journalism here. A good day for the young journalists.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

What I Want in the Next President

Am I excited about what Obama will symbolize and what he might actually do? Absolutely and probably. Am I ecstatic about what will not be done if the president is not John McCain?

I tremble with joy. I don't mind justifying my conduct with negatives. NOT Bush specifically and NOT Republican generically are more than enough.

Big check for Obama going out tonight.

I think of George Bush and I recall: Our nada who art in nada.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Only Two Weeks Until the Poetry Salon

The theme is "Politics and/or...," which acknowledges that our themes are no Procrustean bed. I'm thinking a little W.H. Auden. Does this remind you of anyone?

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

I Discover a New Website

It's called CatsForObama. Oliver told me about it.

I Liked My Answer. Came up with a Phrase I Hadn't Seen Anywhere Before. (Don't Take That as a Challenge)

One of my Advanced Reporting students wrote about the enduring question of bias in news reporting at her blog. I responded:

*Please* take the Journalism Ethics ckass before you leave us. This is a tangle we will chew over first week to last.

My short answer is that we always have a bias, but you could argue it shows most clearly in what we write about, not how we write about it. Feel fury about Darfur but try to be fair and try to be balanced when you write the overview story. Are rape and murder terrible? I won't give an inch on that. But what is the deep background -- the religious and ethnic tensions, the examples of proxy aggression, the economic forces -- that worked together to create a space into which evil flowed. The answer is not simply that the evil did it. Evil is opportunistic, not inevitable. Of course, sometimes you coax all the rationalizations and explanations out of someone and see them for the rags they are. Maybe, then you explain why they are. Or maybe you find the "expert" source who does it for you. You may say there's no difference. I think there is.

Thanks to Brother Greg Pabst over at Fishlanguage (Left on This Page and Down) for Pointing Me at This

The Most Expensive Advertisement U Have Ever Seen - video powered by Metacafe

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Snap Judgment on the Gal and the Geezer

A little Country & Western, a little Stepford.

My Wife Said This Was Blogworthy, and She is Never Wrong, Only Degrees of Modestly Less Right

We were talking about how the bailout bill was probably better than nothing but was still probably lousy. And I said:

The Democrats may be in the pocket of Big Business, but the Republicans are an organ inside its body.

Quippy, no?

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Low Thought

I just watched the mash-up of Sarah Palin's low moments on the TV and suddenly realized that some people -- not just men but also women -- have sat across from an attractive person talking gibberish (talking it charmingly or what seems charming as nature spritzes us with the the ooze and drippings of our naughty glands) and thought only:

My God who cares. I'll stop that mouth with kisses. Tonight we love!

This is the very flower of hypocrisy and not an uncommon experience I'm guessing and a possible source of future shame. But I was an inept seducer and am haunted only by the wish, not the deed.

Clarification: I am speaking generically here. Personally, Sarah Palin creeps me out. But I have, as they say and once upon a time, hated the sin but loved the sinner.