They'll pass over the money without even thinking about it; for it is money they have and peace they lack.
  -James Earl Jones "Field of Dreams"
and don't go mistaking paradise for that home across the road
  -Bob Dylan "Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

With apologies to Dr. Seuss

And help from Maureen Dowd and Art Buchwald

Hillary Clinton will you please go now!
The time has come.
The time has come.
The time is now.
Just go.
I don't care how.
You can go by foot.
You can go by cow.
Hillary Clinton will you please go now!
You can go on skates.
You can go on skis.
You can go in a hat.
Please go.
I don't care.
You can go
By bike.
You can go
On a Zike-Bike
If you like.
If you like
You can go
In an old blue shoe.
Just go, go, GO!
Please do, do, do, DO!
Hillary Clinton
I don't care how.
Hillary Clinton
Will you please
You can go on stilts.
You can go by fish.
You can go in a Crunk-Car
If you wish.
If you wish
You may go
By lion's tale.
Or stamp yourself
And go by mail.
Hillary Clinton
Don't you know
The time has come
To go, go, GO!
Get on your way!
Please Hillary!
You might like going in a Zumble-Zay.
You can go by balloon . . .
Or broomstick.
You can go by camel
In a bureau drawer.
You can go by bumble-boat
. . . or jet.
I don't care how you go.
Just get!
Hillary Clinton!
I don't care how.
Hillary Clinton
Will you please
I said
I meant . . .
The time had come
So . . .
Hillary WENT.

Speaking of Tom Hayden...

Why Hillary Makes My Wife Scream

by Tom Hayden, The Nation

April 22, 2008

My wife Barbara has begun yelling at the television set every time she hears Hillary Clinton. This is abnormal behavior, since Barbara is a meditative practitioner of everything peaceful and organic, and is inspired by Barack Obama's transformational appeal.

For Barbara, Hillary has become the screech on the blackboard. From First Lady to Lady Macbeth.

It's getting to me as well. Last year, I was somewhat reconciled to the prospect of supporting and pressuring Hillary as the nominee amidst the rising tide of my friends who already hated her, irrationally I thought. I was one of those people Barack accuses of being willing to settle. I even had framed a flattering autographed message from Hillary. But as the campaign has gone on and on, her signed portrait still leans against the wall in my study. I don't know where she belongs anymore.

At least Hillary was a known quantity in my life. I knew of the danger of her becoming more and more hawkish as she tried to break the ultimate glass ceiling. I also knew that she could be forced to change course if public opinion was fiercely opposed to the war. And I knew she was familiar with radical social causes from her own life experience in the sixties. So my progressive task seemed clear: help build an antiwar force powerful enough to make it politically necessary to end the war. Been there, done that. And in the process, finally put a woman in the White House. A soothing bonus.

But as the Obama campaign gained momentum, Hillary began morphing into the persona that has my pacifist wife screaming at the television set.

Going negative doesn't begin to describe what has happened. Hillary is going over the edge. Even worse are the flacks she sends before the cameras on her behalf, like that Kiki person, who smirks and shakes her head at the camera every time she fields a question. Or the real carnivores, like Howard Wolfson, Lanny Davis and James Carville, whose sneering smugness prevents countless women like my wife from considering Hillary at all.

To use the current terminology, Hillary people are bitter people, even more bitter than the white working-class voters Barack has talked about. Because they circle the wagons so tightly, they don't recognize how identical, self-reinforcing and out-of-touch they are.

To take just one example, the imagined association between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers will suffice. Hillary is blind to her own roots in the sixties. In one college speech she spoke of ecstatic transcendence; in another, she said, "Our social indictment has broadened. Where once we exposed the quality of life in the world of the South and the ghettos, now we condemn the quality of work in factories and corporations. Where once we assaulted the exploitation of man, now we decry the destruction of nature as well. How much long can we let corporations run us?"

She was in Chicago for three nights during the 1968 street confrontations. She chaired the 1970 Yale law school meeting where students voted to join a national student strike again an "unconscionable expansion of a war that should never have been waged." She was involved in the New Haven defense of Bobby Seale during his murder trial in 1970, as the lead scheduler of student monitors. She surely agreed with Yale president Kingman Brewster that a black revolutionary couldn't get a fair trial in America. She wrote that abused children were citizens with the same rights as their parents.

Most significantly in terms of her recent attacks on Barack, after Yale law school, Hillary went to work for the left-wing Bay Area law firm of Treuhaft, Walker and Burnstein, which specialized in Black Panthers and West Coast labor leaders prosecuted for being communists. Two of the firm's partners, according to Treuhaft, were communists and the two others "tolerated communists". Then she went on to Washington to help impeach Richard Nixon, whose career was built on smearing and destroying the careers of people through vague insinuations about their backgrounds and associates. (All these citations can be found in Carl Bernstein's sympathetic 2007 Clinton biography, A Woman in Charge.)

All these were honorable words and associations in my mind, but doesn't she see how the Hillary of today would accuse the Hillary of the sixties of associating with black revolutionaries who fought gun battles with police officers, and defending pro-communist lawyers who backed communists? Doesn't the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whom Hillary attacks today, represent the very essence of the black radicals Hillary was associating with in those days? And isn't the Hillary of today becoming the same kind of guilt-by-association insinuator as the Richard Nixon she worked to impeach?

It is as if Hillary Clinton is engaged in a toxic transmission onto Barack Obama of every outrageous insult and accusation ever inflicted on her by the American right over the decades. She is running against what she might have become. Too much politics dries the soul of the idealist.

It is abundantly clear that the Clintons, working with FOX News and manipulating old Clinton staffers like George Stephanopoulos, are trying, at least unconsciously, to so damage Barack Obama that he will be perceived as "unelectable" to Democratic superdelegates. It is also clear that the campaign of defamation against Obama has resulted in higher negative ratings for Hillary Clinton. She therefore is threatening the Democratic Party's chances for the White House, whether or not she is the nominee.

Since no one in the party leadership seems able or willing to intervene against this self-destructive downward spiral, perhaps progressives need to consider responding in the only way politicians sometimes understand. If they can't hear us screaming at the television sets, we can send a message that the Clintons are acting as if they prefer John McCain to Barack Obama. And follow it up with another message: if Clinton doesn't immediately cease her path of destruction, millions of young voters and black voters may not send checks, may not knock on doors, and may not even vote for her if she becomes the nominee. That's not a threat, that's the reality she is creating.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obama's Neighbor

I am not a Bill Ayers fan. My opinion is not based on his politics, heck we were on the same side until he decided that violence was OK. Nor is it based on his alleged illegal activities. I am not happy about the bad press that this University of Illinois-Chicago professor is bringing to Barack Obama at the moment, but that is not really the reason either. Bill Ayers, at least when I knew him in Ann Arbor in 1969, was an arrogant jerk. I was part of a group of people that went from Ann Arbor to DC in January of '69 to attend the "counter-inauguration" protest during the first inauguration of Richard M. Nixon. I am not sure how I got hooked up with it, I really didn't have any friends that were all that political, but somehow I found myself in a car heading to DC. I don't think Ayers was in our car but he was the leader, more of less, of the Ann Arbor contingent. He tended to boss people around and there was a clear split between Ayers and the rest of us lowly nobodies. I saw some interesting things on that trip. I saw The Fugs playing in a tent. I saw some folks identified as Yippies who seemed to be specializing in making woo-woo-woo Indian style noises to unnerve the horses that the (huge number of) mounted police were on. I attended a "teach-in" where the point being made was that Sirhan Sirhan (who had killed Bobby Kennedy less than a year earlier) was some sort of hero. I saw folks who would throw rocks at the cops from behind the lines and then run away while the police attacked the nonviolent kids up front.

And I mostly remember a night when I couldn't sleep. The Ann Arbor group was sleeping in a hall that belonged to a church. I vaguely remember eating uncooked Spam that night. Anyway, as I tried to sleep I found that a heated argument, one that went on for what seemed like hours, prevented me from resting. It seems that a commitment had been made that the church would be cleaned up in the morning and that somehow the task had fallen to our future Weatherman. He was not about to help clean the f-ing church. And so he stated far into the night.

Fun fact: neither Ayers nor The Dude (Jeffrey Lebowski) actually contributed to the Port Huron Statement, but Tom Hayden did.

In Pa. Debate, The Clear Loser Is ABC

ABC News moderators Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos seemed to be playing a game of gotcha at last night's candidates' debate.

By Tom Shales, Washington Post

Thursday, April 17, 2008

When Barack Obama met Hillary Clinton for another televised Democratic candidates' debate last night, it was more than a step forward in the 2008 presidential election. It was another step downward for network news -- in particular ABC News, which hosted the debate from Philadelphia and whose usually dependable anchors, Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos, turned in shoddy, despicable performances.

For the first 52 minutes of the two-hour, commercial-crammed show, Gibson and Stephanopoulos dwelled entirely on specious and gossipy trivia that already has been hashed and rehashed, in the hope of getting the candidates to claw at one another over disputes that are no longer news. Some were barely news to begin with.

The fact is, cable networks CNN and MSNBC both did better jobs with earlier candidate debates. Also, neither of those cable networks, if memory serves, rushed to a commercial break just five minutes into the proceedings, after giving each candidate a tiny, token moment to make an opening statement. Cable news is indeed taking over from network news, and merely by being competent.

Gibson sat there peering down at the candidates over glasses perched on the end of his nose, looking prosecutorial and at times portraying himself as a spokesman for the working class. Blunderingly he addressed an early question, about whether each would be willing to serve as the other's running mate, "to both of you," which is simple ineptitude or bad manners. It was his job to indicate which candidate should answer first. When, understandably, both waited politely for the other to talk, Gibson said snidely, "Don't all speak at once."

For that matter, the running-mate question that Gibson made such a big deal over was decidedly not a big deal -- especially since Wolf Blitzer asked it during a previous debate televised and produced by CNN.

The boyish Stephanopoulos, who has done wonders with the network's Sunday morning hour, "This Week" (as, indeed, has Gibson with the nightly "World News"), looked like an overly ambitious intern helping out at a subcommittee hearing, digging through notes for something smart-alecky and slimy. He came up with such tired tripe as a charge that Obama once associated with a nutty bomb-throwing anarchist. That was "40 years ago, when I was 8 years old," Obama said with exasperation.

Obama was right on the money when he complained about the campaign being bogged down in media-driven inanities and obsessiveness over any misstatement a candidate might make along the way, whether in a speech or while being eavesdropped upon by the opposition. The tactic has been to "take one statement and beat it to death," he said.

No sooner was that said than Gibson brought up, yet again, the controversial ravings of the pastor at a church attended by Obama. "Charlie, I've discussed this," he said, and indeed he has, ad infinitum. If he tried to avoid repeating himself when clarifying his position, the networks would accuse him of changing his story, or changing his tune, or some other baloney.

This is precisely what has happened with widely reported comments that Obama made about working-class people "clinging" to religion and guns during these times of cynicism about their federal government.

"It's not the first time I made a misstatement that was mangled up, and it won't be the last," said Obama, with refreshing candor. But candor is dangerous in a national campaign, what with network newsniks waiting for mistakes or foul-ups like dogs panting for treats after performing a trick. The networks' trick is covering an election with as little emphasis on issues as possible, then blaming everyone else for failing to focus on "the issues."

Some news may have come out of the debate (ABC News will pretend it did a great job on today's edition of its soppy, soap-operatic "Good Morning America"). Asked point-blank if she thought Obama could defeat presumptive Republican contender John McCain in the general election, Clinton said, "Yes, yes, yes," in apparent contrast to previous remarks in which she reportedly told other Democrats that Obama could never win. And in turn, Obama said that Clinton could "absolutely" win against McCain.

To this observer, ABC's coverage seemed slanted against Obama. The director cut several times to reaction shots of such Clinton supporters as her daughter, Chelsea, who sat in the audience at the Kimmel Theater in Philly's National Constitution Center. Obama supporters did not get equal screen time, giving the impression that there weren't any in the hall. The director also clumsily chose to pan the audience at the very start of the debate, when the candidates made their opening statements, so Obama and Clinton were barely seen before the first commercial break.

At the end, Gibson pompously thanked the candidates -- or was he really patting himself on the back? -- for "what I think has been a fascinating debate." He's entitled to his opinion, but the most fascinating aspect was waiting to see how low he and Stephanopoulos would go, and then being appalled at the answer.

Shales joined The Washington Post as a writer in the Style section in 1972, was named chief television critic in July 1977, and was appointed TV Editor in June 1979. The Washington Post Writers Group has syndicated his column since 1979.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Amazon price protection

When I was adding the link for the new mower in the previous post I saw that the manufacturer's website had the same mower for $50 less. To verify what I had paid for it on Amazon, I checked there, and yes I had paid $50 more, but now Amazon had it for the same lower price. I could not find anything by navigating the Amazon web site but I googled "Amazon price protection" and found that indeed Amazon will refund the difference if the price goes down within 30 days. A simple phone call got me a $50 refund.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mowers and craigslist

I got tired of struggling with my old mower, which is not really designed for the grass I have, and decided to buy an electric, finally picked a cordless. I ordered it from Amazon last Friday, opting for free shipping. Supposedly it would ship on 4/16 and take 5-6 business days to arrive. Then I saw that it had shipped yesterday and would arrive tomorrow. Where would it go? Had to unload the old one in a hurry.

9:45 am Post ad for mower on craigslist
10:00 am Notice that it is there
10:21 am Receive call from prospective buyer
1:30 pm Receive call from a second prospective buyer who says he will be here in early evening
5:42 pm Second caller says he is on his way (coming from Maricopa)
6:20 pm Buyer arrives from Maricopa, inspects, buys (full price less $5)
7:00 pm Cancel craigslist ad
10:15 pm While googling for a picture of the old mower for this post, find link to my (now-cancelled) craigslist ad

Thursday, April 03, 2008

This is not an April Fool's joke

According to today's Arizona Republic, McDonald's has lost their franchise at Chase Field and will be replaced by Fatburger. While I rarely bought McDonald's food at the ballpark and would not mind trying Fatburger, which I never been to, I did enjoy the occasional McFlurry, a sundae of soft serve ice cream and M&Ms. Fatburger shows no equivalent item on the menu on their website, although they do have what look like pretty good milk shakes.