Saturday, October 25, 2008

Blog #59: Undies in a Bind!

When Microsoft is not getting its undies in a bind with Apple envy it is freaking out with Google envy. Microsoft inherited this envy jones from its ultra-competitive founder Bill Gates, and it is being merrily carried forth by his designated successor, CEO Steve Ballmer. In the dawn of the personal computer age whenever a new software product was introduced, if it was not of Microsoft's making the company would immediately start a whisper campaign advising prospective buyers to wait before buying it as Microsoft was busy developing a similar program and of course it would be so much better. This happened again and again, and engendered the term, “vapor ware.”

Microsoft is still the most competitive company on the block. And when it is not green with Apple Envy it is being consumed by Google covetousness. But Microsoft will not take the first step in matching Google's unyielding service to its customers and the web. That is because Microsoft does nothing unless it is paid for it; and paid pretty damn well at that. In unique contrast Google encourages its engineers to spend 20% of their Google time on their own projects. This has brought on such services as gmail and Google Maps, among many other software applications and services. Google's newest service is extremely timely; it allows you to locate your voting place. To check out Google's newest service for yourself simply highlight and copy the URL that follows: to your clipboard and paste it into your browser window. When the page appears type in your address, and damned if a Google Map page doesn't open up with the your voting place featured front and center. And if you require directions driving instructions are a mouse click away. Bless Google, for doing it's part to get us to our respective voting places. And they're not charging one red cent for their service. Now it's up to each one of us, our job come November 4th is to vote! More info on Google's polling finder at: – • – – • – – • – – • – – • – – • – – • – – • – – • – – • – – • –
This must truly be a frustrating time for that McCain/Palin pack of clowns, as they continue to throw what fecal matter they can conjure into the political fan, holding their collective noses as they note what, if anything, sticks to the wall. Senator McCain ran a distinctive and honorable campaign for the Republican nomination in 2000, only to be savaged with lies and innuendoes by a Bush constabulary running amok. Remembering that it is indeed demoralizing to see his present incarnation employing many of the very same tactics that Bush&Co ran against him. There is, however, an important miscalculation that his campaign is failing to admit to. Sen. McCain is not being defeated by Sen. Obama even though the polls are showing an ever growing majority for the Senator from Illinois. Sen. McCain is being totaled by a combination of both the economic downturn which people justifiably credit his party with creating, and his own quirky reaction to the financial crises. This ranges from his selection of a totally unqualified running mate to his bizarre reaction to economic turbulence by first shutting down his campaign, then restarting it in a hysterical reaction to our economy’s meltdown. And his current strategy, of attempting to deflect the nation’s attention from the economy by constantly attacking Obama’s qualifications is yet another attempt at distracting the voters from the real problems we face in the face of the meltdown of the American economy.

Of course although poll after poll shows Sen. Obama steadily increasing his lead, the race isn’t over until it’s over, which will be on either November 5th or sometime thereafter, depending upon how many roadblocks the Republican legal eagles are able to put up to whittle the vote count down. The always bow-tied conservative commentator Tucker Carlson recently wrote that while Republicans have given up hope for the success of their ticket, it is only Democrats, the executioners of many a failed campaign in the past, who concede that Senator Obama might yet fail in his quest. Personally, I think Mr. Carlson wrote that column to deliberately lure Democrats into reinforcing their beliefs in their own propensity for failure. It seems to me that he writes of the Republican demise, as with everything else, with a skewed ideology and a forked tongue.

But as the days go merrily on the poll numbers do seem to be steadily rising for Sen. Obama and falling for Sen. McCain. And since the “guilt by association” tactic which attempted to link Obama to former Weatherman leader William Ayers hasn’t stuck to the wall, McCain/Palin next turned to the word “socialism,” a word they are presently trumpeting incessantly in the fond hope of its gaining traction. Of course McCain/Palin can't discuss the financial situation and suggest real solutions, because their ideology won't permit consideration of solutions which would have a chance of succeeding. As we said before, it is disillusioning to see what was once a man of integrity, a true war hero and one who has over the years frequently seemed to put honor and principle above party, to witness this man's campaign suddenly sink to the level Bush used against him in 2000. It serves as an example as to how devastating presidential ambitions can be, and how they can change what was a basically good man into a grouchy, testy sore loser.

Above we stated that the election would be over on November 5th or sometime thereafter. We said this was because one of the tactics the Republican legal cadre always judiciously pursues is the disqualification of as many voters as they can get away with. This is particularly true with minority voters, who generally vote Democratic. The Republican legal beagles are already out at the polling places, sniffing out the beast. And they are attempting to create a climate for their planned deprivation of large groups of people of their vote by accusing the voter registration organization ACORN of voter registration fraud. And because the Republicans have managed to have judges of their political stripe infiltrate the judicial system, it is quite possible that many of their challenges will go their way. But think about it, isn’t it ironic that Republicans feel the need to restrict the number of citizens who get to exercise their right to vote, while Democrats are out there busily trying to round up all of the voters they can get. This puts the spotlight on which party really serves the majority of our electorate and which appeals to the elitist right wing, to the ruling class?
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On Oct. 24, the New York Times joined the Washington Post and a raft of other newspapers in editorially endorsing Barack Obama for president. Their support is well reasoned and may be found here:
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Joe Klein, the political columnist for Time Magazine has found himself without a seat on the McCain or Palin planes the past four months. In June, Klein was kept from boarding the McCain plane over what they said had been a security issue. More recently, when trying to fly on the Palin plane last week, Klein told Politico over e-mail that the campaign's response was he “couldn’t be accommodated at this time.”

“I’ve done nine presidential campaigns and this is the first time this has ever happened to me,” Klein said. “I was even allowed — I won’t say welcomed — on the Clinton plane in the summer of 1996 after I was revealed as the author of Primary Colors.”

“I rode with McCain during the primaries, but not since I asked him — at a June press conference — whether he really believed Ahmadinejad was the ‘leader’ of Iran, since he has no control over foreign policy or the nuclear program.” Klein continued, “that was when they suddenly told me that I hadn’t called in time to get secret service clearance. (I had called more than a day in advance.)"

Recently Klein got an interview with Barack Obama, and the result is a probing piece published on Time's website. His article began with a dramatic rendering of the meeting Obama had with General Petraeus.

“General David Petraeus deployed overwhelming force when he briefed Barack Obama and two other Senators in Baghdad last July. He knew Obama favored a 16-month timetable for the withdrawal of most U.S. troops from Iraq, and he wanted to make the strongest possible case against it. And so, after he had presented an array of maps and charts and PowerPoint slides describing the current situation on the ground in great detail, Petraeus closed with a vigorous plea for "maximum flexibility" going forward.

“Obama had a choice at that moment. He could thank Petraeus for the briefing and promise to take his views "under advisement." Or he could tell Petraeus what he really thought, a potentially contentious course of action — especially with a general not used to being confronted. Obama chose to speak his mind. "You know, if I were in your shoes, I would be making the exact same argument," he began. "Your job is to succeed in Iraq on as favorable terms as we can get. But my job as a potential Commander in Chief is to view your counsel and interests through the prism of our overall national security." Obama talked about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, the financial costs of the occupation of Iraq, the stress it was putting on the military.

“A "spirited" conversation ensued, one person who was in the room told me. "It wasn't a perfunctory recitation of talking points. They were arguing their respective positions, in a respectful way." The other two Senators — Chuck Hagel and Jack Reed — told Petraeus they agreed with Obama. According to both Obama and Petraeus, the meeting — which lasted twice as long as the usual congressional briefing — ended agreeably. Petraeus said he understood that Obama's perspective was, necessarily, going to be more strategic. Obama said that the timetable obviously would have to be flexible. But the Senator from Illinois had laid down his marker: if elected President, he would be in charge. Unlike George W. Bush, who had given Petraeus complete authority over the war — an unprecedented abdication of presidential responsibility (and unlike John McCain, whose hero worship of Petraeus bordered on the unseemly) — Obama would insist on a rigorous chain of command.”

Klein's analysis of how Obama must be if he wins the election I found most insightful. “If he wins, however, there will be a different challenge. He will have to return, full force, to the inspiration business. The public will have to be mobilized to face the fearsome new economic realities. He will also have to deliver bad news, to transform crises into "teachable moments." He will have to effect a major change in our political life: to get the public and the media to think about long-term solutions rather than short-term balms.

“Obama has given some strong indications that he will be able to do this, having remained levelheaded through a season of political insanity. His has been a remarkable campaign, as smoothly run as any I've seen in nine presidential cycles. Even more remarkable, Obama has made race — that perennial, gaping American wound — an afterthought. He has done this by introducing a quality to American politics that we haven't seen in quite some time: maturity. He is undoubtedly as ego-driven as everyone else seeking the highest office — perhaps more so, given his race, his name and his lack of experience. But he has not been childishly egomaniacal, in contrast to our recent baby-boomer Presidents — or petulant, in contrast to his opponent. He does not seem needy. He seems a grown-up, in a nation that badly needs some adult supervision.
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How about this for a dream of a shopping spree: • $75,062.63 spent at Neiman Marcus on Sept. 10. • $41,850.72 to Saks Fifth Avenue in New York on Sept. 10.
• $7,575.02 to Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis on Sept. 10. • $5,102.71 to Bloomingdale’s in New York on Sept. 10. • $789.72 to Barney’s New York on Sept. 10. • Charges of $4,396.94 and $512.92 at Macy’s in Minneapolis on Sept. 10. • $4,537.85 to Macy’s in Minneapolis on Sept. 22. • $349.50 to Lord & Taylor in New York on Sept. 25. • $4,902.08 to Atelier New York, a men’s clothing boutique, on Sept. 10. • Two separate charges of $98 to Pacifier, a high-end baby store in Minneapolis, on Sept. 10 and Sept. 25. • $98.50 to Steinlauf & Stoller, a sewing supply store, in New York on Sept. 25. • $133 to the Gap in Minneapolis on Sept. 25. Total it all up, it comes to roughly $150,000.

That's the bill that the Republican Party ran up outfitting their nominee for vice, Alaska governor Sarah Palin following their convention. Sounds like a dream come true, right? Pretty expensive duds for a hockey mom slash “maverick” who doesn't believe in government pork, and who's going to “reform” Washington's errant spending? And how about that idea of billing the state of Alaska for the transportation and lodging of her children around the state? That's what I would call some creative billing, also known as a score.

Well, she'll be dressed to kill while she's off in Washington fighting against all of that dreaded Congressional pork. And the good thing is she's thoroughly equipped to know what pork looks like when she sees it.
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And now a few words from Mike Murphy, campaign manager for McCain's 2000 run, on the GOP's extravagant outfitting of McCain's running mate.

“I saw the RNC statement on Gov. Palin’s $150,000 clothing bender on the RNC's tab. This caper is gonna make for a long day at the office for the good folks at the RNC/McCain press operation. Thought I’d offer a little help in a humorous vein; some other possible spin lines for the RNC.

1.) What you sneering critics in the liberal MSM fail to see here is … a Jobs Program! Saks floorwalkers, cashiers, a team of sweating porters to haul the merchandise from the store to the motorcade … chiropractors to treat those porters. Sarah Palin knows how to create jobs!

2.) What’s the difference between a Pit Bull and a Hockey Mom? You can feed a pit-bull for 483 years with 150 grand.

3.) Still cheaper than Mitt Romney’s hair products. We’re saving money here…

4.) William Ayres is a terrorist!

5.) New ad slogan: “Clothes for Gov. Palin? $150,000. Time machine to go back two months to late August and ask what the Hell were Schmidt and Davis thinking when they cooked up this idea and sold it to McCain? Priceless.”

And finally, in reaction to E.J. Dionne's: Palin's Clothes: Joe the Plumber Meets Neiman Marcus, a reader calling himself braultrl wrote:

The $150,000 wardrobe along with charging the state of Alaska for her children's travel as well as billing the state for travel expenses during the 313 days she spent the night at home taken together show a power hungry elitist, a wolf in sheep's clothing whose folksiness is right up there with Dumbya, the Clown Prince from Connecticut's fake cowboy persona. If you listen on YouTube to her 2006 debates for the governorship of Alaska, there is no phony "Fargo" affectation in her voice, no "you betchas", winking or any of the dreck we've had shoved down our throats the past 5 weeks. Her appeal to the lynch mob was the final straw! After eight years of division, the MAJORITY of America is ready for the healing to begin! Let her and her fascist followers retreat to Alaska where they can all join hands and wait for the Rapture...

Postscript: The highest paid person in the McCain campaign was Amy Strozzi, who was identified by the Washington Post this week as Gov. Sarah Palin’s traveling makeup artist, according to a new filing with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday night. Pretty expensive lipstick, eh what?
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The French leader, Nicolas Sarkozy, is threatening to sue the manufacturer of a doll sold in his likeness which also comes with instructions on how to stick pins in it. Each body part of the doll, which comes with a set of pins and a "voodoo instruction manual,” is accompanied by a provocative quote related to the French president.

These include his campaign slogan "work more to earn more," or "platform heels" – referring to the diminutive president's chunky shoes designed to gain a few inches in height. On his groin is written "scum" – the word he used to describe young suburban delinquents before the riots of 2005.

Some 20,000 voodoo kits, which come complete with a satirical biography, have already been produced. Mr Sarkozy's lawyer Thierry Herzog called on the makers to "immediately cease all distribution of this doll." He added: "Nicolas Sarkozy has charged me with reminding you that he commands an exclusive and absolute right over his image, regardless of his status and fame."

The company, K&K, has also produced 12,000 dolls of Ségolène Royal, the Socialist candidate Mr Sarkozy defeated in last year's presidential elections. Her lawyer described the doll as a "breach of dignity" and also promised legal action.

K&K said the demand to withdraw the dolls was "totally disproportionate" and that it would make more of other politicians if they sold well. Mr Sarkozy has launched several law suits for libel since taking up office last June. In January he won a case against the budget airline Ryanair after it released a poster featuring him with his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. Last week, he sued the former head of France's police intelligence service after extracts of his notebooks were published. They included unsubstantiated allegations about Mr Sarkozy's private life and financial affairs.

And so goes life in the never dull world of politics. As we ponder this story let us give a toast to the young lady who attempted to handcuff Karl Rove at a meeting the other day. And speaking of Rove, how many of you out in the blogosphere would buy a Karl Rove voodoo doll, complete with pins and instructions? I know I would. Okay K&K, the ball's in your court. Get on it right away.
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Richard Cohen, in an opinion column in the Washington Post, wrote: “A column, like a good movie, should have an arc -- start here, end there and somehow connect the two points. So this column will begin with the speech Condi Rice made to the Republican National Convention in 2000 in praise of George W. Bush and end with Colin Powell's appearance Sunday on "Meet the Press" in praise of Barack Obama. Between the first and the second lie the ruins of the GOP, a party gone very, very wrong.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Bush and now John McCain have constructed a mean, grumpy, exclusive, narrow-minded and altogether retrograde Republican Party. It has the sharp scent of the old Barry Goldwater GOP – the angry one of 1964 and not the one perfumed by nostalgia – that is home, by design or mere dumb luck, to those who think that Obama is "The Madrassian Candidate." Karl Rove, take a bow.

It is worth remembering that both Rice and Powell spoke at that Philadelphia convention. And it is worth recalling, too, that Bush ran as a "compassionate conservative" and had compiled a record as Texas governor to warrant the hope, if not the belief, that he was indeed a different sort of Republican. When he ran for reelection as governor in 1998, he went from 15 percent of the black vote to 27 percent, and from 28 percent of the Hispanic vote to an astounding 49 percent. Here was a coalition-builder of considerable achievement.

Now, all this is rubble. It is not merely that Barack Obama was always going to garner the vast majority of the black vote. It is also true that the GOP, under Rove and his disciples in the McCain campaign, has not only driven out ethnic and racial minorities but a vast bloc of voters who, quite bluntly, want nothing to do with Sarah Palin. For moderates everywhere, she remains the single best reason to vote against McCain.

But the GOP's tropism toward its furiously angry base, its tolerance and currying of anti-immigrant sentiment, its flattering of the ignorant on matters of undisputed scientific consensus – evolution, for instance – and, from the mouth of Palin, its celebration of drab provincialism, have sharpened the division between red and blue. Red is the color of yesterday.

Ah, I know, the blues are not all virtuous. They are supine before self-serving unions, particularly in education, and they are knee-jerk opponents of offshore drilling, mostly, it seems, because they don't like Big Oil. They cannot face the challenge of the Third World within us – the ghetto with its appalling social and cultural ills – lest realism be called racism. Sometimes, too, they seem to criticize American foreign policy simply because it is American.

Still, a Democrat can remain a Democrat – or at least vote as one – without compromising basic intellectual or cultural values. That, though, is not what Colin Powell was saying Sunday about his own party. "I have some concerns about the direction that the party has taken in recent years," Powell said. "It has moved more to the right than I would like." He cited McCain's harping on that "washed-out terrorist," Bill Ayers, as an effort to exploit fears that Obama is a Muslim (so what if he were? Powell rightly asked) and mentioned how Palin's presence on the ticket raised grave questions about McCain's judgment. In effect – and at least for the time being – Powell was out of the GOP. S'long, guys.

Those of us who traveled with Bush in the 2000 campaign could tell that when he spoke of education, of the "soft bigotry of low expectations," he meant it. Education, along with racial and ethnic reconciliation, was going to be his legacy. Then came Sept. 11, Afghanistan and finally the misbegotten war in Iraq. After that, nothing else really mattered. But just as Bush could not manage the wars, he could not manage his own party. His legacy is not merely in tatters. It does not even exist.
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Eugene Robinson, also writing in the Post, wrote a column assessing General Colin Powell's endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for president. In it he quoted the General, "This Bill Ayers situation that's been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign. But Mr. McCain says that he's a washed-out terrorist. Well, then, why do we keep talking about him? And why do we have these robo-calls going on around the country trying to suggest that, because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow, Mr. Obama is tainted? What they're trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings."

He mentioned the campaigns of lies, spread by whisper and e-mail, to convince people that Obama is a Muslim: "Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian. 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 7-year-old Muslim American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, 'He's a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists.' This is not the way we should be doing it in America."

And on Palin's qualifications and readiness to assume high office, an issue that a few conservative commentators have taken on but Democrats refuse to touch, as if it were radioactive: "I was also concerned at the selection of Governor Palin. She's a very distinguished woman, and she's to be admired, but at the same time, now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president. And so that raised some question in my mind as to the judgment that Senator McCain made."

As the highest-profile Republican to defect to the enemy camp, Powell knew that his endorsement would create a huge stir. What I found fascinating was how he framed it more as a set of reasons to vote against the McCain-Palin ticket than a set of reasons to vote for Obama and Joe Biden. In talking about the Wall Street meltdown and the economic crisis, for example, Powell spoke of how McCain's herky-jerky response made it seem that he "didn't have a complete grasp" of what was going on. Powell went on to praise Obama's "steadiness" -- but mentioned nothing in particular that Obama did.

To those who would say he is only supporting Obama as a fellow African American, Powell pointed out that if this were the criterion, he could have made his endorsement months ago. Much more important, I think, is that Powell is a moderate Republican who listens to all this innuendo about terrorism and all this nonsense equating the income tax with socialism and wonders what in the world has happened to his once-grand old party.
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And we leave this week's post on a note of irony. When the markets closed on Wednesday, Dell (DELL) was trading at $11.98 share, with 1.96 billion shares outstanding. That puts Dell’s market capitalization at $23.5 billion. Meanwhile on Tuesday, Steve Jobs reported that Apple (AAPL) ended fiscal year 2008 with $24.5 billion in the bank.

In other words, Apple could buy Dell with the cash it has on hand and still have more than $1 billion left over. (Or rather $10 billion, if you count, as reader Joe Goodart does, the $9 billion Dell has in the bank.)

Hard to believe that it’s been only 11 years since Michael Dell, when asked what he would do if he were Apple’s CEO, answered: “What would I do? I’d shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders.” For the record, Apple’s market cap today stands at $85.8 billion. And there is where we'll leave it for another week. Have a good one.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Blog #58: The end is in sight!

Wednesday, Oct. 15, brought us the last presidential debate. I think many of us are getting sick and tired of the damned presidential race, and are glad to see the debate segment come to an end. Although John McCain was a little more lucid than he has been in previous debates, most everyone agrees there was no knockout punch. Obama sat at the table exuding coolness whilst McCain gave his usual “grumpy old man” impression. And as what has become usual with us, we begin our debate coverage with comments from two Houston Chronicle readers' comments which followed their story covering the debate:

JimC wrote: In each of the debates: McCain--angry, surly, mean, disrespectful, desperate. Obama--patient, calm, articulate, presidential. It's obvious which candidate is leading.

tx_riley wrote: All the Republicans have to say was Obama was defensive. In other words, they lost this debate and McCain is done. As a matter of fact, the GOP is done. He lost this debate big time and if that doesn't hurt, the polls are clearly in Obama's favor. I'm extremely frustrated that I don't have a Republican candidate who can give a clear, straight-shot plan for the economy and not ripping off ideas from the other candidate. Obama has my vote.
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And here are two further reviews of the debate. First from Ariana Huffington in the Huffington Post: "McCain's reliance on angry, negative, personal attacks on Obama – including the pathetic Ayers smear and ACORN "destroying the fabric of democracy" – has been an unequivocal failure, with the poll numbers to prove it. But instead of course-correcting, McCain doubled down tonight – coming across as angrier and meaner than ever before.

"This debate wasn't decided on the arguments being made. It was won on the reaction shots. Every time Obama spoke, McCain grimaced, sneered, rapidly blinked, or rolled his eyes. "He looked like Captain Ahab, again and again going after Moby Dick," John Cusack told me. "Or an animal caught in a bear trap. He even seemed pissed at Joe the Plumber."

"McCain's campaign was all about experience – until he picked Palin. It was all about putting country first – until he picked Palin. It was all about the success of the surge – until everyone from General Petraeus and the authors of the latest NIE made it clear that victory in Iraq exists only in McCain's and Palin's stump speeches. It was all about William Ayers – until voters rejected that line of attack. It was all about national security – until the economy collapsed."
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And finally from Tina Brown's the Daily Beast comes the following: Blues in Slow Motion by Stanley Crouch (Stanley Crouch's culture pieces have appeared in Harper's, The New York Times, Vogue, Downbeat, The New Yorker and more. In June 2006 his first major collection of jazz criticism, Considering Genius: Jazz Writings was published. He is presently completing a book about the Barack Obama presidential campaign.)

"Had Barack Obama had MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow as trainers, he would have put up a more entertaining fight last night. Neither pretends to be objective; their criticism and satire of John McCain are so effective because they are backed the cold steel of hard facts, so many of which perforate McCain's claims and his campaign's advertisements. Devastation born of actuality.

"Initially, I thought Obama needed more snap in his jabs but he, perhaps in a slow and naturally easy way, left McCain the bloodier. Unlike his opponent, he didn't go for a knockout or a knock down. There seemed confidence in letting the points build up.

"So however dull Obama initially seemed, he slowly slowly wove an invisible web of authority and pulled into it some of McCain's accusations as though they were equal in irritation to flies but no more important. By the end something truly unexpected happened: of the two men, Obama came to seem older."
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One night after their third and final debate, the two presidential candidates met for the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York City, the white-tie charity roast that has long served as a light-hearted rest stop on the road to the White House.

John McCain came on first, to announce to the world that he had dismissed his entire team of senior advisers. “All of their positions will now be held by a man named Joe the Plumber,’’ he cracked. Mr. McCain answered critics who said that the plumber he made famous as a hardworking everyman in Wednesday night’s debate would not earn enough money to face any tax increase under Mr. Obama’s fiscal plan by saying, “What they don’t know — what they don’t know — is that Joe the Plumber recently signed a very lucrative contract with a wealthy couple to handle all the work on all seven of their houses,’’ Mr. McCain said this in an allusion to a flap he caused last summer when he was unable to remember how many homes he and his wife own. Another gem included his prediction that at the "first sign of recovery [Obama] will suspend his campaign and fly immediately to Washington to address this crisis." He also recalled that Oprah had called Obama "The One" -- something his own campaign also picked up. "Being a friend and colleague of Barack, I just called him 'that one,'" McCain said. "He doesn't mind at all. In fact, he even has a pet name for me -- 'George Bush.'"

And Mr. McCain scanned the crowd and said: “Even in this room full of proud Manhattan Democrats, I can’t shake that feeling that some people here are pulling for me,’’ quickly adding, “I’m delighted to see you here tonight, Hillary,’’ as he nodded to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who lost to Mr. Obama in the primary.

Obama, for his part, also won some laughs if not as many as McCain. From the Waldorf-Astoria's doorstep, he pointed out, one can "see all the way to the Russian Tea Room." Thanking the night's emcee, Al Smith IV, Obama pointed out that, of course, he never knew the dinner's namesake. "But from everything Sen. McCain has told me, the two of them had a great time together before Prohibition – wonderful stories." Mr. Obama observed, “It is often said that I share the politics of Alfred E Smith and the ears of Alfred E. Neuman.’’ Turning his fire on the media, Obama invoked News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch by name. "Rupert, the other day Fox News actually accused me of fathering two children in wedlock."

Noting Michael Bloomberg's decision to make an end run around the term limits laws, Obama said it prompted Bill Clinton to say, "You can do that?" Mr. Obama told the audience that his first name was actually Swahili for “that one.’’ His middle name, Obama said, came from "somebody who obviously didn’t think I’d ever run for president."

Senator Obama, then made a confession about his past associations. “John McCain is onto something,’’ he said. “There was a point in my life when I started palling around with a pretty ugly crowd, I’ve got to be honest. These guys were serious deadbeats, they were lowlifes, they were unrepentant no-good punks. That’s right: I’ve been a member of the United States Senate.’’ “There is no other crowd in America that I’d rather be palling around with right now,’’ he said right off the bat, alluding to Gov. Sarah Palin’s attack that he had been “palling around with terrorists.”

All in all it was a fun packed evening, in direct contrast to the debate from the night before. If John McCain could have projected his image from the dinner onto the presidential debates he might have come out somewhat better. But he is no poker player, wearing the gamut of his emotions on his sleeve as he does. And on a split screen television screen as McCain listens to his rivals plans and observations he looks mean and acts grumpy, and in no way appears presidential. Besides, after eight years of Republican incompetence, arrogance, and misdeeds, and with the nation's economy crashing down all around us, McCain doesn't appear to stand a chance short of hell freezing over.
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A fellow named Thomas Frank wrote an interesting piece published in the Wall Street Journal online entitled, My Friend Bill Ayers. Mr. Ayers you might remember was a founder of the Weather Underground, a group which went about expressing its displeasure of the Vietnam War by, among other things, setting off bombs. Their enthusiasm was curtailed somewhat after a bomb accidentally killed their chief bomb maker and several other elite Weather persons. The McCain campaign, which is obviously out of its league as far as plans for a McCain presidency are concerned, has gone out of its way to link Mr. Obama to the long ago terrorist, now an education professor. Mr. Frank writes as follows:

This year the Democrats chose Barack Obama as their leader, a man who was born in 1961 and who largely missed our cultural civil war. In response, Republican campaign masterminds have sought to plunge him back into it in the most desperate and grotesque manner yet.

For days on end, the Republican presidential campaign has put nearly all of its remaining political capital on emphasizing Mr. Obama's time on various foundation boards with Bill Ayers, a former member of the Weathermen, which planted bombs and issued preposterous statements in the Vietnam era. Some on the right seem to believe Mr. Ayers is Mr. Obama's puppet-master, while others are content merely to insist that the association proves Mr. Obama to be soft on terrorism. Maybe he's soft on anarchy and repudiation, too.

I can personally attest to the idiocy of it all because I am a friend of Mr. Ayers. In fact, I met him in the same way Mr. Obama says he did: 10 years ago, Mr. Ayers was a guy in my neighborhood in Chicago who knew something about fundraising. I knew nothing about it, I needed to learn, and a friend referred me to Bill.

Bill's got lots of friends, and that's because he is today a dedicated servant of those less fortunate than himself; because he is unfailingly generous to people who ask for his help; and because he is kind and affable and even humble. Moral qualities which, by the way, were celebrated boisterously on day one of the GOP convention in September.

Mr. Ayers is a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), where his work is esteemed by colleagues of different political viewpoints. Herbert Walberg, an advocate of school vouchers who is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, told me he remembers Mr. Ayers as "a responsible colleague, in the professional sense of the word." Bill Schubert, who served as the chairman of UIC's Department of Curriculum and Instruction for many years, thinks so highly of Mr. Ayers that, in response to the current allegations, he compiled a lengthy résumé of the man's books, journal articles, guest lectures and keynote speeches. Mr. Ayers has been involved with countless foundation efforts and has received various awards. He volunteers for everything. He may once have been wanted by the FBI, but in the intervening years the man has become such a good citizen he ought to be an honorary Eagle Scout.
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Further perusing the Daily Beast we ran across this item: Christopher Buckley, son of noted conservative and founder of The National Review, in an exclusive for The Daily Beast, explains why he left The National Review, the magazine his father published. Wrote Mr. Buckley:

I seem to have picked an apt title for my Daily Beast column, or blog, or whatever it’s called: “What Fresh Hell.” My last posting (if that’s what it’s called) in which I endorsed Obama, has brought about a very heaping helping of fresh hell. In fact, I think it could accurately be called a tsunami.

The mail (as we used to call it in pre-cyber times) at the Beast has been running I’d say at about 7-to-1 in favor. This would seem to indicate that you (the Beast reader) are largely pro-Obama.

As for the mail flooding into National Review Online — that’s been running about, oh, 700-to-1 against. In fact, the only thing the Right can’t quite decide is whether I should be boiled in oil or just put up against the wall and shot. Lethal injection would be too painless.

I had gone out of my way in my Beast endorsement to say that I was not doing it in the pages of National Review, where I write the back-page column, because of the experience of my colleague, the lovely Kathleen Parker. Kathleen had written in NRO that she felt Sarah Palin was an embarrassment. (Hardly an alarmist view.) This brought 12,000 livid emails, among them a real charmer suggesting that Kathleen’s mother ought to have aborted her and tossed the fetus into a dumpster. I didn’t want to put NR in an awkward position.

Since my Obama endorsement, Kathleen and I have become BFFs and now trade incoming hate-mails. No one has yet suggested my dear old Mum should have aborted me, but it’s pretty darned angry out there in Right Wing Land. One editor at National Review — a friend of 30 years — emailed me that he thought my opinions “cretinous.” One thoughtful correspondent, who feels that I have “betrayed” — the b-word has been much used in all this — my father and the conservative movement generally, said he plans to devote the rest of his life to getting people to cancel their subscriptions to National Review. But there was one bright spot: To those who wrote me to demand, “Cancel my subscription,” I was able to quote the title of my father’s last book, a delicious compendium of his NR “Notes and Asides”: Cancel Your Own Goddam Subscription.
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And finally from the Daily Beast, Jessi Klein is in love with David Gergen. I know this for a fact, for I read all about it in Thursday's Beast. To quote her: “The romance began late at night, with a glass of red wine and an episode of The Situation Room. I can’t hold in the truth any longer. My feelings are too large to live just within the confines of my heart. I need everyone to know: I am passionately in love with David Gergen . . . .

“The moment I realized my feelings were more serious was in late September, right after the first presidential debate. Gergen was on for hours, and I found myself on the couch, riveted, a glass of Cabernet by my feet, hands wrapped around my knees as I leaned forward to capture every word, every thought, every — oh, be still my fluttering heart, was that a little chuckle? . .

“How do I love David Gergen? Let me count the ways. I love his low, quiet voice. That unmodulated buttery whisper that sounds like it’s elbowing its way past a cough drop that’s permanently lodged at the back of his throat. You know how Bed Bath & Beyond sells those white noise machines that help you sleep? And they usually make ocean noises? I want one that’s just David Gergen gently muttering about the economy.

"I love the way Gergen makes me feel calm, even when he’s making dire predictions about the future of our country. I love the way he knows everything and then formulates an opinion about everything that’s always right. I love that his eyebrows only move when he gets mad, and I love that he almost never gets mad. I love that he looks like a handsome baked potato. I want him to analyze my life with the same subtle intelligence he uses to analyze politics. How can I make my kitchen brighter? Should I email that dum-dum of a guy I know or just leave it in my draft folder? Should I get a bob or is my hair better long?

“I love that his name is Gergen. Gerrrrr-gen. I don’t know the real origin of the name, but it’s a quirky, comforting sound with an onomatopoeic quality to it. Like the little pleasure noise you make under your breath when you’re home in your pajamas and you hear someone on the TV making consistent, rational sense.”

{|Thursday night on CNN Anderson Cooper had a split screen of Jessi Klein reciting her little love tome to David Gergen, with Gergen reacting on the left. The poor man must not have known about it before hand, for he blushed, squirmed, and all but hid his face at times. But the uncanny thing about her accolade is that her observations caught Gergen just as he is, or at the very least as he appears on our television.|}
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Mona Charen, who once upon a time used to spout the myths of the conservative viewpoint on CNN, wrote a piece for the aforementioned National Review lamenting the impending death of conservatism. She writes:

“All of a sudden, this election is shaping up as a verdict on capitalism. The Obama campaign wanted it to be about George W. Bush. The McCain campaign wanted it to be about character. But instead, because the markets are shooting off in all directions like bullets from a dropped pistol, the stakes have suddenly been raised dramatically.

“We are in the midst of the worst panic in history, it’s true (because it is global). But as historian John Steele Gordon helpfully pointed on in the Wall Street Journal, panics are not unusual in American history. We’ve experienced them almost every 20 years since 1819. Gordon blames Thomas Jefferson, which is intriguing, but the point is that we’ve always emerged from these periodic paroxysms intact and our economy has continued to grow. Gordon believes more sensible banking policy would prevent future panics. But if we elect a crypto-socialist like Barack Obama and give him a bigger Democrat majority in the House and a filibuster-proof Senate, banking regulation may be the least of our troubles.

“Well, you may say, “Win some, lose some. McCain isn’t all that great anyway. Conservatives and Republicans will simply have to examine their consciences and come up with a winning strategy for next time.” Perhaps. But there are a few problems with that sanguine approach.

“In the first place, the Democrats can, with a super-majority, change the rules of the game. They can make the District of Columbia the 51st state with two new senators (guaranteed to be Democrats in perpetuity). They can reinstitute the so-called Fairness Doctrine that required radio stations to provide equal time to all political viewpoints. While the doctrine was enforced by the Federal Communications Commission, radio stations shied away from politics altogether. With the demise of the doctrine, conservative talk radio flourished. Liberal talk radio has never found much of an audience. Reviving the doctrine would kill one of the principal irritants to liberals and Democrats — to say nothing of disemboweling the First Amendment.”

To which Little Eddy surmises: What a capital idea that would be, reviving the so called “fairness doctrine?” Think of a world without those right wing nuts of the Rush Limbaugh persuasion continually lying their testicles off, and when they get criticized for it, whine the excuse that “we're not journalists. We're entertainers. The fairness doctrine doesn't apply to us. And if not a total ban, at the very least each hour of a Rush clone to be followed by an equal hour of one invoking some liberal home cooking.

However, since that's not about to happen (right wing talking heads are much too entrenched and the station owners are not about to give up this lucrative part of their business without a fight to the death) and so with that in mind it is up to our left wing talk brethren to increase their ratings and their popularity, for that is the only true way to gaining true balance. Things are moving in the right direction, no doubt about that, what with the wider acceptance of liberal points of view in these days of a tanking economy and the tenets of the conservative blowhard daily being shredded by the realities of the financial world.
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Little Eddy's Left Wing Conspiracy Theory. As Mona Charen's piece above indicats, the zealots of the right are upset. They see a towering left wing conspiracy the sole purpose of which is the bringing down their candidates, John McCain and Sarah Palin, and their party, the Grand Old Republican Party, having entire the lot of them falling to earth and smashing into smithereens. Republicans are screeching, “these goddamn no good, leftist, pinko, commie, punks have risen up, and they're threatening to run our candidate and our party off into the hills, just as Cuba's Castro ran Battista into the foothills of Cuba in another century. And it doesn't seem to matter what conservatives do. We’ve had some of our best minds on the job, but nobody bothers to listen to us any more . Can you believe they are trying desperately to blame this wh0le damn financial mess on us supply-side politicians? They have the nerve to blame us, the party of Ronald Reagan, for this mess our markets are in and they're trying to brand us as scalawags? Now I ask you, is that fair? Is that justified by the facts? Don't believe a word these left wing pinkos say. Please don't! Pretty please!

In the final debate last evening John McCain accused Barack Obama of being a tax and spend liberal, and further pointed out that the last president that confronted a major recession by raising taxes was Herbert Hoover. Sorry, Johnny my boy, but should he be elected H. Hoover is not the model Mr. Obama wishes to follow. His model will be that of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the president who had the courage and the wit to attempt to solve the nation's problems by putting its people back to work. Franklin R. took office during the worst depression of modern times. Banks were closing right and left. Jobs were few and far between. Everywhere people were lined up for food.

Roosevelt realized a basic truth unheard of in Republican ranks. It was a novel truth that said: the federal government should be a tool that must assist its citizens in times of need. And so he closed the banks until he could stabilize them, then reopened them with the government insuring their accounts up to a certain figure. He tackled the unemployment problem by putting people to work on public works, building schools, hospitals, roads and bridges, and he even put writers and artists to work gathering a record of the times and its people.

Roosevelt believed that the federal government should serve the people in their time of need. And he and his advisors used creative means to pull the United State through the great depression of the thirties. And many of his contributions remain with us to this day, the most massive of which is Social Security.

Roosevelt was hated at the time by the well-heeled types like those who today flock to the support of John McCain. The thirties in America was raft with fascism. Father Coughlin ranted and raved over the public airways. Adolph Hitler wrestled his way into power in Germany, and Benito Mussolini did the same in Italy. Although the American wealthy class of the time lividly hated Roosevelt, his draconian methods are credited by most historians as to having saved America from following Hitler and Mussolini and turning America fascist. And the American people were grateful enough to Roosevelt to elect him to an unprecedented four terms.

Put that in your hash pipes and smoke it, Republicans. Once against the nation is in dire straights, fueled by eight years of arrogant, incompetent rule by a Bush administration on steroids. Ten billion dollars a month to pay for a war we never should have started. And John McCain wants to continue it until “victory” is reached. And he will balance the budget by the end of his term? Be a true Boy Scout John McCain and pass that pipe around,.

Obama is untried, Republicans cry. So was Roosevelt when he inherited the worst mess the country had ever been in, thanks to successive Republican presidencies in the twenties. So Obama is untested. So was Jimmie Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and so also was George the Shrub. So is every president as he begins his first term. Most of the above list grew into the job, the exception being the Shrub. What's important is that Obama is cool, collected, and creative under fire. What's even more important is that Barrack Obama once again brings back hope in our country.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Blog #57: No muckraking in the Debate

Well, Presidential Debate #2 from Nashville happened Tuesday night, and the earth remains in stable orbit around the sun, and a brief check of the night sky did confirm that the moon was still mindlessly circling the earth. CNN’s post debate poll showed Obama the winner by 24 points, 54 for Obama to 30 for McCain. There was no muck raking, the names Ayer and Reverend Wright never came up, neither did a reminder of McCain’s link to the Keating Five. Did they answer the questions? Well, kinda, sort of.

As for the debate, pundits, including top Republican strategists, said that Senator McCain had needed a watershed event during the second debate to change the polls which are beginning to favor Senator Obama. Thankfully for those of us who advocate the need for real change in Washington, none was forthcoming. Republicans, desperate for some flicker of light as they near a dead end tunnel’s dead end, have been heard to say, “If Obama is doing so well, why isn’t he leading in the polls by ten or twenty points, instead of only four or five?” To which a Democratic analyst was heard to reply, “because he’s black. If he was white he would be leading by twenty points easily.”

In summing up Tuesday night’s 90 minute debate we used the same technique we used after the Palen-Biden debates last week, that of reprinting the first four comments that followed the Houston Chronicle’s report of the debate. In answering a possible charge of skewering the results, I would point out that, like last week, I simply published the first four comments the Chronicle published. You would have to delve much deeper into the comments to find one supporting Senator McCain’s position. And now, the comments:

Chop281Shop wrote: Tomorrows News Headline: Scrooge Gets Schooled. McCain is too angry, unhinged and 26 years out of touch to be President.
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nonewsisgoodnews wrote: Senator McCain is trying to convince voters that the best way to "change" the Bush/McCain policies of the past eight years is to vote for another Republican...that is like setting a house on fire, and then claiming that you are the best qualified person to put the fire out.
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AnimuX wrote: These debates are not for those of us who are already decided on our candidates. For those who have made up their minds it's the equivalent of a sports match and they all root for "their team.” Hopefully those who are still deciding on what they see as the lesser of two evils will get the information they need to choose a candidate.
On that note I can only say that for me as an independent voter the choice boils down to the last 8 years of Republican president and the decade before 2006 of Republican controlled congresses which, in my opinion, have placed us in the precarious and ruinous situation we see today.
This Veteran of the Iraq war will not vote for another Republican disaster.
No way. No how. No McCain. No Palin. No more Republican BS in the White House.
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GatorBait wrote: Great performance tonight by Obama. He called out McCain for his continual lies about Obama's tax and health care plans. He was confident and calming. McCain came across as old and tired with few new ideas…. You call this "taking the gloves off?”
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. - Albert Einstein
Insanity: electing Republicans over and over again and expecting different results. - GatorBait
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In my view neither candidate boiled the election down to its true essence. Which is, which group (class) of the American people should the federal government work for? Under the Republican rule of the past seven plus years the government has existed primarily for the financial gain of the extremely wealthy, the big corporations, and most particularly the war contractors. All were excused from paying their fair share of the cost of government and the war, although they get the primary monetary benefits from the system. Republicans believe in “pure” capitalism and so in their tenure they cheerfully deregulated as much of the banking and financial industry as they dared, and as a result much of the credit for the current meltdown of our economic structure can be rightfully laid at their doorstep. And the dramatic swing in the polls indicates that voters are beginning to place the blame exactly where it belongs.

Every time the Democrats promise help for the middle class in tax breaks, in health care, etc., squeamish squirming Republican scalawags squeal socialism. And indeed, socialism it is, but ladies and gentlemen, pay no attention to the babble of Republican mouthings. Socialism is no dirty word. Deregulated capitalism out of control is the dirty word of this day and age. An equally dirty phrase is “Trickle Down,” the brand of economics espoused by “supply side” Republicans from Herbert Hoover to Ronald Reagan, and from Newt Gingrich and Phil Gramm to John McCain. The comedienne Rosanne Barr characterized trickle down succinctly in her Huffington Post critique of the first presidential debates when she wrote, “Trickle down economics is when the rich piss on the poor, and John McCain thinks that's swell. Obama tried to remind Americans of what is morally right and what is morally wrong, and that was fantastic to witness.”

And one more thing, ladies and gentlemen, you cannot truly reform the health care industry unless you bring it under the wing of the federal government, placing it under government surveillance and control. Harry and Louise be damned, a for-profit industry does not and cannot serve people’s health care needs, as the present system attests all too clearly. Under such a system if fairly run providers would have to pay out more than they take in. And so the only way they can turn their shareholders a profit is by refusing coverage for as many of their members as they can get away with. This point was brought home in memorable fashion in Michael Moore’s unforgettable documentary of our health care system, Sicko. After once hearing it who can forget the testimony of Linda Peeno, a former medical reviewer for Humana, whose testimony was broadcast to the nation by C-SPAN as she testified before a Congressional committee in a deathly quiet, tear streaked voice:

“I am here primarily today to make a public confession. In the spring of 1997 as a physician, I denied a man a necessary operation which would have saved his life, and thus caused his death. No person and no group has held me accountable for this, because in fact what I did, I saved the company a half a million dollars. And furthermore, this particular act secured my reputation as a good medical director and it insured my continued advancement in the health care field. I went from making $300 a week as a medical reviewer to an escalated six figure income as a physician consultant.

“And in all my work I had one primary duty, and that was to use my medical expertise for the financial benefit of the organization for which I worked. And I was told repeatedly that I was not denying care, I was denying payment. I know how managed care maims and kills patients, so I am here to tell you about the dirty work of managed care, and I’m haunted by the thousands of pieces of paper on which I had written that deadly word, denied.” Remember Ms Peeno’s words when the subject of health care reform comes up after the election. And ignore the squeals of the medical and drug establishment, don’t let Harry and Louise put the shiv in us yet again. Let’s take the profit out of Health, and put the Care back in.
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Cindy McCain, wife of candidate McCain, made no friends with the truth the other day when she emotionally lamented Senator Obama’s refusal to vote to fund the troops. Mr. Obama, along with many another Democrat, was trying to attach some kind of timeline for a troop withdrawal in the bill, not deprive the troops of funds. Like the Republicans back in the Clinton years when they threatened to shut down the government and then were the first to blink and back down when President Clinton called their bluff,

House Democratics blinked after trying to get the Shrub* to set a timeline for troop withdrawal. But Ms McCain tried to depict it as a deliberate case of troop deprivation and questioned Obama’s patriotism. Cindy McCain had also lashed out at Obama earlier in the week telling a Tennessee newspaper that the Illinois senator has waged the "dirtiest campaign in American history." What kind of nonsense is that? The McCain campaign is not suffering from charges the Obama campaign is making; it is taking hits from the state of the nation’s economy, a condition of which their party was a direct contributor. And Obama was not the first to instigate negative ads, but only responded in kind to negative ads of the McCain campaign? Ms. McCain must be consuming entirely too much of the product her family distributes.

Cindy McCain isn’t the only Republican lashing out in recent days. Vp nominee Sarah Palin has been leading the charge, fruitlessly trying to link Senator Obama to Bill Ayers, a man who had been a founding leader of the Weathermen, an anti-government group who in the 1960’s expressed their displeasure with the government’ s Vietnam policy by exploding bombs here and there. All of this happened when Senator Obama was eight years old, and many years later when he knew of the Weathermen’s history he condemned their actions. Ayers is currently an American elementary education theorist who served on a board with Obama many years ago and who early in his career held a fund raising party for the then state senator.

In their desperation with their plumeting poll ratings even members of McCain’s audience were crying for McCain to “take off the gloves” and get nasty, as if tearing down the Obama campaign was going to solve their lagging campaign’s problems. Everybody knows their problems hearken back to James Carville’s famous slogan from the Clinton campaign of 1992, “It’s the Economy Stupid!” and the present day economy is no friend of the McCain campaign.
*Shrub is the name the late Molly Ivins tacked onto Prez #43.
“If it fits you must convict,” paraphrasing the words of the late Johnny Cochran.
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Poor John McCain, reputable songwriters just don’t want his presidential campaign using their music. The latest to complain is Foo Fighters. They sent out a missive to the Republican candidate to stop using “My Hero.” They said they learned it was being used through news reports. "The saddest thing about this is that 'My Hero' was written as a celebration of the common man and his extraordinary potential," the band said in a statement. "To have it appropriated without our knowledge and used in a manner that perverts the original sentiment of the lyric just tarnishes the song."

The band noted that it's not the first time McCain has been told to stop using a song. John Mellencamp, Heart and Jackson Browne have also complained — Browne even filed a lawsuit. In the interest of balance we should point out that soul legend Sam Moore also has asked the campaign of Barack Obama to stop using his song "Soul Man."

The McCain campaign released the following statement: "The McCain-Palin campaign respects copyright. Accordingly, this campaign has obtained and paid for licenses from performing rights organizations, giving us permission to play millions of different songs, including 'My Hero,'" said McCain-Palin spokesman Brian Rogers.
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These are strange times indeed. In a time when the Republican presidential campaign spews garbage, and the economy tanks, it is no wonder that many people prefer getting their news from the likes of Saturday Night Live, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and from websites like The Onion, rather than from so-called legitimate news sources like the television networks and CNN and the champions of newsprint, the N.Y. Times and the Washington Post. This brings to mind a lovely story in this week’s Onion, one that rates quite high on our chuckle meter.

DAYTON, TN—A steady stream of devoted evolutionists continued to gather in this small Tennessee town today to witness what many believe is an image of Charles Darwin — author of The Origin Of Species and founder of the modern evolutionary movement — made manifest on a concrete wall in downtown Dayton.

"I brought my baby to touch the wall, so that the power of Darwin can purify her genetic makeup of undesirable inherited traits," said Darlene Freiberg, one among a growing crowd assembled here to see the mysterious stain, which appeared last Monday on one side of the Rhea County Courthouse. The building was also the location of the famed "Scopes Monkey Trial" and is widely considered one of Darwinism's holiest sites. "Forgive me, O Charles, for ever doubting your Divine Evolution. After seeing this miracle of limestone pigmentation with my own eyes, my faith in empirical reasoning will never again be tested."

Added Freiberg, "Behold the power and glory of the scientific method!"

Since witnesses first reported the unexplained marking — which appears to resemble a 19th-century male figure with a high forehead and large beard — this normally quiet town has become a hotbed of biological zealotry. Thousands of pilgrims from as far away as Berkeley's paleoanthropology department have flocked to the site to lay wreaths of flowers, light devotional candles, read aloud from Darwin's works, and otherwise pay homage to the mysterious blue-green stain.
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Investors are a skittish bunch. No matter how absurd, the wildest rumor can bring on the downturn of a stock. Recently CNN on it’s website floated a completely fabricated story that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had suffered a heart attack and was taken to the local emergency room. Apple stocks took a nosedive, even though the story was denied by an Apple spokesperson as completely false and the item was pulled within thirty minutes. The problem, of course, is that more than any other CEO in industry, Steve Jobs is identified with Apple products, the likes of the Macintosh computers, the iPod music players, and his latest creation, a combination music player, internet device, and cellphone known as the iPhone. However writing in PC World, Gregg Keizer offers a fascinating report disputing that premise: “Apple doesn't need Steve Jobs,” an analyst argued Monday.

“Early on Friday, Apple shares slid below $100 for the first time since May 2007 after a false report circulated that Apple's 53-year-old CEO had suffered a major heart attack. The report, posted on, a "citizen journalist" Web site operated by CNN, was quickly denied by Apple, but not before the share price had slid nearly 11%.

“The panic was unwarranted,” said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research Inc.

"Apple doesn't need Jobs anymore," Gottheil said. "He's established three sound businesses -- Mac, iPod and the iPhone -- and the company knows how to execute his fanatical devotion to design and usability. There's a stable management team in place, and they know what they're doing."

“Investors have been nervous about Jobs' health since last June, when he appeared gaunt at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. Although company spokespeople said Jobs was under the weather from a "common bug," his appearance fueled speculation that he was again seriously ill, a reference to Jobs' 2004 announcement that he had had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his pancreas. Jobs in July told The New York Times that he is healthy.

“Since then, other incidents, including the accidental posting of Jobs' obituary by Bloomberg financial news service in August, have caused investors to question the company's future sans Jobs.

“They shouldn't be so worried,” said Gottheil. "Without Jobs, Apple would have to pay a lot more to get the world's attention," he said, referring to the CEO's knack for promoting his company's products. "But he's got a company and a brand and an organization and a strategy in place. There's no reason to think that those things can't be carried forward without him."

“If Jobs stepped down, Tim Cook, currently chief operating officer, would run the company, Gottheil said. Cook ran Apple while Jobs out in 2004 after his cancer surgery. Jonathan Ive, Apple's senior vice president for industrial design, would pick up the reins on product design.

“The July hiring of former Segway Inc. chief technology officer Doug Field as Apple's new vice president of design, Gottheil speculated, is an attempt by Apple to free up Ive to take on a more strategic view of product design.

“That's not to say that Apple wouldn't be different. It would play things more conservatively without Jobs,” Gottheil believes. "It may not be able to make the inspired guesses that created the iPod and the iPhone," he said. But those leaps aren't necessary for Apple to continue. "We believe that sort of risk-taking is no longer necessary, and the current management can build very effectively on what Jobs has created," Gottheil added.

“And Gottheil is realistic to know that Apple's shares will invariably take a hit when Jobs does leave the company. "All this is not to say that the market won't react. Investors will certainly panic until they see proof that the management team can continue," he said. "But I see Apple after Jobs as Ford after Henry Ford," Gottheil said. "The acolytes have incorporated the main teachings of Jobs. He's created a process and a culture that will continue."

So much for “Citizen Journalism.” At the very least CNN ought to have a pair of eyes watching the posts, eyes with the ability to check out the facts before publishing so wild a rumor. Another happening like that is likely to do irreparable damage CNN’s good name as a reliable news organization. Just as deregulation has tanked the financial industries, so deregulation of the news can add chaos to the news business. Let’s face it, friends, the world needs traffic cops policing all of its highways and biways.
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And now for a message from the other side of the mirror, the Zune Player’s mission of iPod catchup. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Microsoft blog Joe Tartakoff reports on good news for Zune maker Microsoft. Piper Jaffray's bi-annual teen survey includes some positive news for Microsoft's Zune music player. Yes, the survey says that Apple's share of the portable media player market among high school students increased to 84 percent, up from 80 percent a year ago. And, yes, a whopping 79 percent of teens who said they planned to buy a music player in the next 12 months said they expected to buy an iPod, up from 78 percent a year ago.

But the Zune's share of the teen market is up as well -- up to 3 percent, from 2 percent a year ago. Moreover, 15 percent of teens surveyed who said they planned on buying a music player over the next year said they expected to buy a Zune, up from 13 percent a year ago.

The report concludes: While Microsoft is gaining on Apple, the share growth is coming at the expense of players other than Apple, as Apple's share is holding strong around 80%. Apple's dominance in the (portable music player) market remains largely unchecked, and it is clear to us that Apple has captured the "cool factor" among high school students across America.
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aggregator |?agri?g?t?r|
1 Computing an Internet company that collects information about competing products and services and distributes it through a single Web site : a travel insurance aggregator.
2 a wholesale buyer or broker of a utility service, such as electricity or long-distance telephone service, who packages it and sells it to consumers.
Apple Computer’s Dictionary, 1.0.2.
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Internet news aggregators include the Huffington Post at one end of the political spectrum and the Drudge Report at the other end, and also includes technology sites like Gizmoto and Endgadget. But there is a brand new general news site that is creating ripples throughout cyberspace. The site was created by Tina Brown, the former editor of The New Yorker and Vanity Fair.

There follows a few items from Tina Brown’s Q & A announcing the site: What is the Daily Beast? • It’s a speedy, smart edit of the web from the merciless point of view of what interests the editors. . . . the omnivorous friend who hears about the best stuff and forwards it to you with a twist . . . .

Does the world really need another news aggregator? • The Daily Beast doesn’t aggregate. It sifts, sorts, and curates. We’re as much about what’s not there as what is. And we freshen the stream with a good helping of our own original content with a wonderfully diverse group of contributors including satirist Christopher Buckley and historian Sean Wilentz, etc.

Are you doing this because you’re jealous of Arianna Huffington? • Not entirely, though I have always followed Arianna’s career with the liveliest interest. She is a very old friend, going back to when she was at Cambridge and I was at Oxford. I love what she has achieved at HuffPo. And her partner Ken Lerer, another old friend, has also been a total mensch about the birthing of our beast.

According to Ms. Brown the name is from Scoop, Evelyn Waugh’s satire of Fleet Street, which happens to be her favorite novel of all time. She added, for those who prefer Henry James let’s just say The Beast knows its way through the jungle.

Today’s Beast headlines (Friday, Oct. 10, 2008) include the following: Overnight Market Plunge, The GOP Has No More Smart People, Why the Recession is Good for You, and Buffett Still Incredibly Rich, among six others. And I found the ode below thanks to Saturday's Beast.

Ode to Sean Hannity

by John Cleese

Aping urbanity
Oozing with vanity
Plump as a manatee
Faking humanity
Journalistic calamity
Intellectual inanity
Fox Noise insanity
You’re a profanity

To try it for yourself go to the URL directly below.
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And political junkies are further directed to TPM Talking Point Muchraker (, a blog by Joshua Micah Marshall which aggregates political polls among other things and among other things asks the question, Will Trooper/Gate Report Ever See the Light of Day? as well as the resounding question, How Low Can He Go, Take #9.

And here’s where we leave the world for this week. Do come back next week, same URL, and why not bring along a friend or two. Meantime in the words of the immortal Mister Spock, “Live Long and Prosper!” No easy trick in times like these.

The Real Little Eddy

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Blog #56: Republicans prepare to deflect & defame

Michael D. Shear writing in the Washington Post on Saturday, Oct. 4, reports that: Sen. John McCain and his Republican allies are readying a newly aggressive assault on Sen. Barack Obama's character, believing that to win in November they must shift the conversation from the economy back to questions about the Democrat's judgment, honesty and personal associations, several top Republicans said.

You damn right they have to try and switch the agenda away from the economy. Since Republican policies through the years have created this mess, they don’t stand a chance unless they can deflect and defame. So what else is new? The deflect and defame syndrome worked all too well during George H.W. Bush’s race against Michael Dukakis as the notorious Willie Horton ad depicted the Democratic candidate as signing onto a weekend prison furlough program which resulted in a homicide. You can bet your sweet bippie that Repugnicants will comb every scrap of dirt to try and link Obama to some real or imagined faux pas.

Perhaps the best man won in the Bush vs Dukakis tussle, in spite of the weapon which helped bring about the victory. But character assassination is no way to elect a president, and we Americans deserve better than the kind of sleaze which helped George W. Bush win the nomination in 2000, and which helped him win both his initial election and he re-election in 2004. When you let yourself get fooled by lies the results can be disastrous, as we have seen for the past eight years. A blood sucking war, a shattered economy, only a nation of lemmings would voluntarily choose four more years of this madness. Be so warned and be aware. They will try their damndest.
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As the sun rose on the day of the much anticipated vice presidential debate, the Washington Post brought us news of a swelling of skepticism in regards to Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s qualifications for the job. Her image is now laden with speculation that among key voter groups she might be a drag on the Republican ticket. This is according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, which found that six in ten see her as lacking the experience to be an effective president, and a third are now less likely to vote for McCain because of her. But it is the experience question that may prove her highest hurdle, particularly when paired with the public’s concern about McCain's age. About half of all voters said they were uncomfortable with the idea of McCain taking office at age 72, and 85 percent of those voters said Palin does not have the requisite experience to be president.

And so, with that in mind let’s bring on the debates. It was Sarah Palin’s night to prove her relevance, and she barely managed to do that, exuding her unique version of a smiling, winking, personable Joe Six-Pack and soccer mom in lieu of answering tough questions. Again and again she echoed John McCain’s talking points, but she did not answer the questions she wasn’t comfortable with. Most objective listeners gave the evening to Joe Biden, who did answer all questions directed at him and who repeatedly corrected Palin mistatements about Obama’s policies. The Houston Chronicle’s debate coverage was followed by readers comments, several of which I feel pretty well summed up the night, and four of which I reprint below:

nonewsisgoodnews wrote: Watching Palin's combination of cockiness, smirks, grins, and total ignorance of anything that was not written on her note cards, it seemed familiar...then I remembered: George Bush in his first debate with Al Gore...same cockiness, same smirks, same grins....same astounding ignorance of the issues...where do Republicans find candidates who think a big grin makes up for having never read a book in their life?

Owl_of_Bellaire wrote: The hardcore Republican right wing will eat up the "Aw shucks, I'm a soccer mom, and complicated problems have simple answers" shtick that is Palin's only strength. Everyone else, Democrats and independents both, will give the nod to Joe Biden, who proved that real-world experience and rigorous intellect will beat cram-studying notecards and folksy winking any day of the week.

Jill_Again wrote: I was pleased to see that Sarah Palin, although really not addressing the questions asked, did not commit the type of gaffe that would be this Saturday night's fodder for Tina Fey. On the other hand, she didn't say anything to impart a feeling of confidence that she could capably step in if required in an emergency. She just parroted the campaign position lines, which this time, she is apparently able to repeat. But Biden did win, hands down.

carlybee wrote: She avoided a lot of the questions by tooting her own horn. She reminds me of a Stepford wife. Scary. By golly, you betcha!
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The vice presidential debate happened on Thursday night, but it has been two recent Wednesdays which have been the harbinger of good news, at least to those of us who believe that what the U. S. really needs is genuine change. On the most recent Wednesday, Oct. 1st, 2008, Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press reported that after recently trailing or at the least being tied, Democrat Barack Obama now leads Republican John McCain in a trio of the most critical, vote-rich states five weeks before the election.

The Democratic candidate's support jumped to 50 percent or above in Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania in Quinnipiac University surveys which were taken during the weekend — after the opening presidential debate and during Monday's dramatic stock market plunge as the House rejected a $700 billion financial bailout plan. The new surveys show Obama leading McCain in Florida 51 percent to 43 percent, in Ohio 50 percent to 42 percent and in Pennsylvania 54 percent to 39 percent. Combined, these states offer 68 of the 270 electoral votes needed for victory on Election Day, Nov. 4. Since 1960, no president has been elected without winning two of those three states.

Pollsters attributed Obama's improved standing to the public's general approval of his debate performance, antipathy toward GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and heightened confidence in the Illinois senator's ability to handle the economic crisis. The fresh polling is the latest troublesome turn for McCain, the Arizona senator who is trying to regain control of the campaign conversation amid increasingly difficult circumstances for Republicans. It comes on the eve of a debate between Ms Palin and her Democratic counterpart, Joe Biden, as the financial crisis shapes the presidential race in unpredictable ways.

The war in Iraq, national security and foreign policy issues — McCain's strengths — have largely fallen by the wayside as each campaign tries to chart a course to the presidency through extraordinarily choppy economic waters. For now and probably for the next month, the race will be entirely about who can best handle an economy in peril.
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However it was the Wednesday before, Sept. 24, which brought the first glimmer of hope for those of us who lean towards a return to fair and responsible government operating for the benefit of the majority of the people, not just corporations and the very rich. That Wednesday was the first truly Red Letter Day since the conventions. It was the day the ABC-Washington Post poll issued showed that support for Obama has been rising markedly, undoubtedly in reaction to the current financial downturn. 52% of registered voters in that poll supported Barack Obama, to 43% supporting John McCain. As a point of comparison, neither of the last two Democratic nominees – John Kerry in 2004 or Al Gore in 2000 – recorded support above 50 percent in a pre-election poll by the Post and ABC News.

Praise the Lord and Pass the Malnutrition! The bump Sen. McCain had gotten from the Republican Convention and his selection of Sarah Palin, the moose wrangling governor of Alaska, seems to have disintegrated, although it took the fiscal collapse of four of America’s leading financial institutions to begin to seal the deal. And ironically the financial collapse followed by one week Sen. McCain’s sage declaration that the nation’s economy was “sound.” With a perception like that, who would not want to vote for him? (Line forms here!)

Of course, the nation’s economic collapse followed by the House rejection of the president’s own stimulus package, have served to further reinforce Sen. Obama’s position. Poor John McCain, he is running under a distinct disadvantage, people are not stupid, they can put together the dots which link the nation’s present financial collapse to the hysterical Republican led deregulation of the banking and financial industries. The chief architect of the gelding of the regulators of the banks and financial markets was Phil Gramm, the financial whiz from Texas A&M College, who as a senator blazed the trail to financial deregulation, and who has since left Senate t0 work as a lobbyist for the Swiss banking firm UBS. Gramm is the leading economic adviser for the McCain campaign, or was until he labeled Americans suffering from losing their homes as “whiners”. McCain has been silent on Gramm's position since.

From Wikipedia: Many believe that legislation written primarily by Gramm in 1999 (signed into law by Clinton), is in large part to blame for leading to the 2008 mortgage crisis. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act is perhaps most famous for repealing the Glass-Steagall Act which regulated the financial services industry. The legislation allowed Swiss Bank UBS to purchase several American institutions. Gramm later became a lobbyist for UBS, collecting over $750,000 USD in fees. UBS alone issues over 18 Billion USD in subprime mortgages.

Also thankfully the public’s reaction to McCain’s running mate, Sarah Palin, seems to be leveling off. Ms Palin is attractive and affable, and she certainly fires up the right wing of the Republican party, a group which feels cold about McCain himself. However, the McCain campaign’s constant shielding of Ms Palin from the media is beginning to turn off many independents. And those females who covet economic fairness in the workplace and who desire to retain control of their own bodies are likely to be in direct conflict with Ms. Palin’s views, and not the least bit sympathetic to her vice presidential ambitions.

Although Ms Palin gave a momentary boost to the McCain campaign following the Republican convention, three subsequent interviews with network news anchors have had the effect of seeing several well known conservatives including George Will question her qualifications as a vice presidential nominee. Her first interview with Katie Couric of CBS news went so poorly that the McCain campaign sought and obtained a second interview, this one with McCain present to hold her hand. Thursday night’s debate between Ms Palin and Democratic vp nominee Joe Biden is awaited with great interest by a large segment of the public and promises to be a watershed event.
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Wednesday, Sept 24 was indeed a Red Letter Day! Besides the Obama campaign’s swing in the polls it also brought two other items heralding good news. These were all originally in Blog #55, but they only lasted 24 hours before I pulled them in favor of the post debate opinion pieces from the Huffington Post. I decided to repost both pieces this week, because in the case of Capitol Records vs Jamie Thomas, we have followed her case almost from the beginning, and we reprinted Ms Thomas’ blog telling her side of the story. And in the case of Barney Rosset, his legal suits for the right to publish unexpurgated versions of books by James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence and Henry Miller, made him was instrumental in liberating all of the American publishing industry.
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Anyway, from we learned that the judge in the RIAA-Jamie Thomas Trial which had originally ended with her being levied a $222,000 penalty, $9,250 for each of the 24 infinging music tracks she made public on the Kazaa file sharing network has declared a mistrial. Davis’ decision means the Recording Industry Association of America’s five-year copyright infringement litigation campaign has never been successful at trial.

The legal brouhaha prompting Davis to declare a mistrial focused at the heart of all file sharing cases: What level of proof was necessary for the RIAA to prevail. Davis had instructed the jury last year that the recording industry did not have to prove anybody downloaded the songs from Thomas' open Kazaa share folder. Davis read Jury Instruction No. 15 to jurors saying they could find unauthorized distribution – copyright infringement – if Thomas was "making copyrighted sound recordings available" over a peer-to-peer network "regardless of whether actual distribution has been shown." But Davis had second thoughts and, without any urging from the litigants in the case, summoned the parties back to his courtroom in August, writing in a brief order that he may have committed a "manifest error of the law." He heard arguments from both sides and said he would issue ruling soon.

With Wednesday's opinion, Davis made his revised position official and ordered a retrial – one with different jury instructions. "Jury Instruction No. 15 was erroneous, and that error substantially prejudiced Thomas' rights. Based on the court's error in instructing the jury, it grants Thomas a new trial," the judge ruled. The RIAA, which is the music industry's lobbying and litigation arm, fought hard to keep Jury Instruction No. 15 in play. "Requiring proof of actual transfers would cripple efforts to enforce copyright owners' rights online – and would solely benefit those who seek to freeload off plaintiff's investment," RIAA attorney Timothy Reynolds said in a court filing.

The RIAA sues after online detectives log onto Kazaa, Limewire and other file sharing services. They look into open share folders, take screenshots of the music listed and download some of the songs. They also obtain IP addresses, which are easily determined on open networks. With those addresses, the RIAA subpoenas internet service providers to cough up the identity of the account holder. The RIAA then sues the account holder, who usually settles out of court because it is substantially cheaper than hiring a lawyer and fighting.

The judge also took a few pages to decry as exorbitant the award the jury rendered against Thomas and urged Congress to change the law. “While the court does not discount plaintiffs’ claim that, cumulatively, illegal downloading has far-reaching effects on their business, the damages awarded in this case are wholly disproportionate to the damages suffered by plaintiffs. Thomas allegedly infringed on the copyrights of 24 songs – the equivalent of approximately three CDs, costing less than $54, and yet the total damages awarded is $222,000, more than 500 times the cost of buying 24 separate CDs and more than 4,000 times the cost of three CDs.

The story above tends to show that there is still a modicum of justice in the U.S., if you can afford to seek it, and have the patience and wherewithal to be able to suffer through a misstep or two along the way.
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And finally on that Wednesday the New York Times rounded out my day with a piece on Barney Rossett, which they titled, the Publisher Who Fought Puritanism and Won. In its heyday during the 1960’s, Grove Press was famous for publishing books nobody else would touch. The Grove list included writers like Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, William S. Burroughs, Che Guevara and Malcolm X. The books, with their distinctive black and white covers, were reliably ahead of their time and often fascinated by sex. The same was, and is, true of Grove’s maverick publisher, Barney Rosset, who loved highbrow literature but also brought out a very profitable line of Victorian spanking porn.

On November 19 Mr. Rosset will receive a lifetime achievement award from the National Book Foundation in honor of his many contributions to American publishing, especially his groundbreaking legal battles to print uncensored versions of James Joyce’s “Ulysses,” D. H. Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” and Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer.”

In the N.Y. Time’s article written by Charles McGrath, he tells how in 1951 Mr. Rosset got into publishing by accident when, at the suggestion of his ex-wife, he took over a stillborn company called Grove Press, whose entire list consisted of three reprints: Melville’s novel “The Confidence Man,” some writings by Aphra Behn and a volume of poems by Richard Crashaw. He quickly turned the company into what he later called “a breach in the dam of American Puritanism — a whiplashing live cable of zeitgeist.”

Now 86 and a little shrunken, Mr. Rosset, who has just finished writing an autobiography, lives with Astrid Myers in a fourth-floor walkup near Union Square. There is a pool table in the living room, and the walls are lined with loose-leaf binders containing Grove-related photos and correspondence. Over a rum and Coke the other evening, Mr. Rosset recalled that in the famous 1959 obscenity case he had used “Lady Chatterley” as a kind of stalking horse for Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer,” a book he had discovered in college but whose raunchiness he thought would have a much tougher time in the courts.

“I loved that book,” he said. “When I was a young man, it never occurred to me that it was about sex. What interested me was that Miller didn’t like Americans very much.”

He went to California to meet Miller, Mr. Rosset recalled, and Miller refused to sell him the rights. “He had all sorts of silly reasons,” Mr. Rosset said. “Too many people would have it. It might become a college textbook.” Mr. Rosset eventually secured the book through the intervention of Maurice Girodias, the publisher of the Olympia Press in Paris, and Heinrich Ledig-Rowohlt, Miller’s German publisher.

In 1961 he set about the very expensive business of fighting for the book in the courts. “The greatest joy that came out of my life in publishing was when ‘Tropic of Cancer’ went on trial in Chicago,” Mr. Rosset said. “The judge was a friend of my father’s, and at one point when the prosecutor accused me of just trying to make money, I took out my Henry Miller term paper from Swarthmore College and read from it. I remember leaving the courtroom and somehow getting lost going home. It was snowing. But I was so happy I thought, ‘If I fall down and die right here, it will be fine.’ ”

Mr. Rosset went on: “All my life I followed the things that I liked — people, things, books — and when things were offered to me, I published them. I never did anything I really didn’t like. I had no set plan, but on the other hand we sometimes found ourselves on a trail. For example, out of Beckett came Pinter, and Pinter was responsible for Mamet. It was like a baseball team — Mamet to Pinter to Beckett.”

Mr. Rosset sipped from his drink and smiled. “Should we have had more of a business plan?” he added. “Probably. But then the publishers that did have business plans didn’t do any better.”

Though he was forced to sell Grove Press, Mr. Rosset still publishes The Evergreen Review online at And we at Little Eddy’s Blog bless Mr. Rosset for his ground breaking publishing. He and a few others of the times helped many of us 20th Century Americans to break out of our puritanical cucoons and begin to discover a brand new world swathed in honesty and truth. This is not the world as espoused by Mr. McCain and Ms. Palin. Fortunately however, Senator Obama’s Democratic tent is quite a bit larger than that of his Republican counterpart, large enough to fit the more diverse among us under its shelter.
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These are indeed interesting times. The House finally joined the Senate in passing that “bailout” turned “rescue” operation, and George W. wasted not a minute signing it into law. Will it do any good? Who the hell knows? However Barack Obama supports it and Lou Dobbs rails against it. That’s enough for me.

The Real Little Eddy