Monthly Archives: June 2008

Rewarding the War Mongers and Oil Companies


I was just watching yesterday’s post Tim Russert Meet the Press with guests Senators (D-DE) Joe Biden and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and yesterday I read an excellent piece about Bush’s energy policy by Thomas L. Friedman in the New York Times. Both got me to thinking — and I can’t remember whether it is postive or negative reinforcement — that the Bush Administration and now John McCain want us to reward them for their remarkable ineptitude.

I don’t need to spell it out for you in detail because the facts are pretty clear. We have a war in Iraq that is lasting longer than World War II and John McCain thinks we need to stay the course because the war has benefitted Iran. We need to stay because there are terrorists that we cannot properly fight in Afghanistan because we are overcommitted in Iraq, and we cannot leave because we have installed a democratic government that is pro-Iran.

The war has also helped in the demise of the U.S. economy and has furthered revealed our fossil fuel dependency and vulnerability. While we all suffer $4.00 a gallon gas, Exxon Mobile has earned record profits. Instead of diversifying our energy sources and preparing for the future — that would be bad for the oil companies — Bush and McCain want us to reward oil companies yet again with the contracts. Let’s drill up the American coastline and give the American oil addicted population what it needs — some domestic grown petrol dope. The pushers will profit and the people can eazy ride their way into oblivion.

McCain even appears to have changed his mind on torture, Guantanamo, an independent judicial branch and a political system of checks, balances and separation of powers, calling the Supreme Court’s recent (obvious and foreseeable) decision one of its worst ever. Why would someone who has been tortured in a foreign military prison want to reinforce a legal climate that leaves the door open to similar practices? Even conservative pundit George Will (who I believe to be a closet Obamamaniac) was surprised by McCain’s “Contempt of Courts“, wondering whether McCain thought the Court’s decision ranked as poorly as Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson or Korematsu. Go George! Continue reading

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Surviving the Hits

I am in Paris where I had job interview yesterday and will have another one on Monday. When I have a chance, I will write a little bit about job interviews and my reflections on siting on the other side of the table after years of asking the questions.

In any event, I just had the luxury of taking a long nap. When I woke up, I opened up the New York Times to find an article called “Surviving the Hits” by Suzanne Vega about the creation and success of “Luka“. Although Vega did attribute the song’s tone and musicality as contributing factors (and of course that all of the pieces fell into place), the song’s storyline about child abuse was key to its success.

Last year or so, when searching to compile my favorite 80s hits for my iPod, Vega’s songs “Left of Center“, “Tom’s Diner” (the same diner from Seinfeld), and “Luka” were top on my list — and yet I had never consciously been much of a Vega fan or had associated those three songs with her. As a matter of fact, until reading her article today, I had never even thought of “Luka” about child abuse. I suppose I always knew it was about abuse — probably about a girlfriend or wife being abused, but “abuse” per se is not what I believe gave the song its impact.

I think that what makes those three songs so memorable is that they are all about human loniless and alienation. Thinking of one’s self as “left of center” or as a mere observer as in “Tom’s Diner” are themes prevalent to the 80s and are what made the John Hughes movies so popular and emblematic for the time period. Afterall, Luka was like a John Hughes character, not popular or a protagonist, but like every other kid trying to get by and find their way — the one who feels like he is seen but not heard. That is what I believe rang so true about the song. Heck, I now recall that even my heavy metal college roommate Julio had Vega’s greatest hits.


Filed under Digressions

Trying to Keep It Close


During the primaries, I repeatedly denounced the press’ stretching of the facts to keep the Hillary v. Obama contest going as long as possible. The press needed a good story to tell — a battle of the titans — and it also knew that McCain was simply too boring for primetime.

Depending on how things proceed over the next few months, whether there is some unforeseen scandal or political crisis, the general election in November may be a blow out in Obama’s favor. Nevertheless, the press is at it again, trying its very best to cover up the obvious — McCain is less interesting than Bob Dole’s E.D.

In attempting to tune people in, we are made to believe that this race is both too close to call (so keep watching) and that there is a real demographics war going on, with Hillary voters turning to McCain. What a load of excrement! On Sunday, Frank Rich wrote an excellent op-ed in the New York Times about how the press is ignoring the data. Check it out: Continue reading

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How About Gwen Ifill

Gwen Ifill

Out of respect for Tim Russert, the guys at Meet the Press have yet to begun throwing names out there for his replacement. My vote goes to Gwen Ifill.  As the host of Washington Week and a regular on both Meet the Press and the NewsHour, Ms. Ifill has proven to be independent, impartial, and tactful. She can also ask the tough questions, as Tim Russert did, gracefully.

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Tim Russert


For about a year now, I have been addicted to podcasts, especially of the political kind. Even before moving to Spain eight years ago, one of my favorite activities was spending Sunday mornings watching Meet the Press and This Week. So when I finally discovered the Meet the Press videopost, I incorporated it into my Sunday lifestyle abroad as well.

Thanks to these podcasts I am incredibly well informed about the 2008 U.S. Presidential Elections and my obsession for the Obama campaign has been further enhanced. I even turned my girlfriend into a Meet the Press junkie, calling it “our show”. Having said this, it is then no surprise that we were incredibly surprised to hear the news yesterday of Tim Russert’s sudden death at the age of 58. Russert was an institution in Washington political news, having served as the host of Meet the Press since 1991. He also moderated numerous debates during this primary season. It almost breaks your heart to think that Russert won’t be able to witness the results of an election that he played a very active role in moderating. I know my Sundays won’t be the same.

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These Foolish Shoes (Remind Me of You)


Back in 1999 and 2000 I purchased two consecutive pairs of some really great shoes — orangish-brown loafers and blood red retro sneakers. I don’t remember the day or the moment that I destined them to the trash heap, but I often think about how much I had loved them. Maybe in some blurred corner of an out-of-focus photograph you can catch a glimpse of the loafers. The other pair survives in my memory alone.

Since that time, I suppose, I have always had trouble throwing out old shoes. They seem to accumulate and multiple. Even when they are no longer worn, practically forgotten and relegated to some dreary closet or buried in a nylon shoe bag, I imitate my friend Fred’s policy towards ex-girlfriends, I don’t quite hit the eject button. Why take out the trash when you never know when something old and discarded may come back into style again? Plus, who can say when the situation may call for precisely that pair of shoes? Continue reading

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Smearing Obama as a Muslim

not a muslim

The Internet is now full of a bunch of silly and sometimes astounding allegations against Obama and his wife. In the primaries, Hillary tried to paint him every color imaginable. Now that he is up against the Republicans, we are hearing even more accusations of Obama being a radical, a racist, and worst of all, a Muslim?

To help defend himself against many of these absurd allegations, Obama has set up a Fight the Smears website. It reads,

What you won’t hear from this campaign or this party is the kind of politics that uses religion as a wedge, and patriotism as a bludgeon — that sees our opponents not as competitors to challenge, but enemies to demonize. Because we may call ourselves Democrats and Republicans, but we are Americans first. We are always Americans first.

But as an American, especially one who has just been welcomed into a Muslim home, I am incredibly and painfully embarrassed about the whole anti-Obama, anti-Muslim campaign. Obama defended himself as being a Christian, but should have been bolder and braver. He should have said, “No, I am not a Muslim, but even if I were, this is the United States of America where it is not illegal to be a Muslim, just as it is not illegal to be Jewish, Christian, Hindu, or atheist. We cannot afford to lose our most precious values lest we risk reducing ourselves into an intolerant totalitarian nation.”

Honestly, how can we be so politically correct and politically careful all the time about every other class of people and on every issue, yet such raging Islamophobia gets a free pass?

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