January 31, 2008

The Seventh Age of Man

Two weeks ago my brother in law, my grandfather, and I went on a bit of a field trip - or rather, we tried to. We had hoped that Grampa would enjoy his first helicopter ride and a nice tour of New York City from above, but unfortunately my poor grandad, aged 90 and over 6 feet tall with bad knees, though able to get into the 'copter just didn't fit once he got settled. After failing to find a way to make it work, Shayne and I went up without him and though we had fun, we felt unfulfilled and we knew my Grampa was disappointed. He had been looking forward to one more adventure, and we wanted to give it to him.

Today my family and I spent the day in the hospital, watching over him and ruminating on the frailty of the flesh. He's stable and may recover, but recover to once again be a 90+ year old man - a condition that doesn't improve over time.

Recently when a woman I was dating asked me what kind of man I strove to be I answered without hesitation: my Grampa. Unfortunately for me (and for the women I date) I'm nowhere close, though I won't stop trying.

January 28, 2008

Reviewing the Situation

And then there were three... but don't hold your breath.

The one-two punch of Obama's win in South Carolina and Ted Kennedy's endorsement has significantly altered the primary geography for the Democrats in just a few short days, but not only in the obvious way. Sure, Obama looks like he's really catching fire and a big win in a hotly contested state against Hilary is always nice, but there's more to it than that -

My newest favorite candidate John Edwards may stick around waiting for a miracle on Super Tuesday, but his 3rd place finish in his own home state leaves Edwards with no tenable candidacy and he's certain to drop out in the next two weeks. It isn't likely that he'll suddenly be more popular elsewhere in the nation than he was in South Carolina, the only state whose primary he won in 2004, so while Edwards may have enough cash to continue through Feb 5th, he's done.

Let's ignore that my approval apparently equals the kiss of death to Democratic candidates, and instead let me speculate on how what Edwards does next could be significant to Obama. The exciting part of Edwards dropping out isn't if he does it after Super Tuesday, it's what could happen if he drops out in enough time for Obama to capitalize next week. Obama gets a nice bump from Edwards dropping out whenever it happens, but if it happens very soon it could play havoc with the outcome of next week's primaries.

Though it's been a three-person race officially, for all intents and purposes it's been a campaign of Hilary or Not-Hilary for many months, and those who didn't like Hilary enough to support her last year aren't going to suddenly like her now. People either like Hilary or they don't, and I suspect there are very few people who have changed their minds about her over the course of the past year of campaigning. When Edwards drops out of the race, his supporters - and likely his endorsement - will shift to Obama.

The number of convention delegates up for grabs next week could make or break the races in each party, and only a relatively even split keeps the Democratic horserace running. If it goes 70/30 or better for Obama then the momentum shifts and I suspect then it's a slow, painful diminishment for Hilary leading into the convention.

So much of this process is about agreement. Everyone wants to pick the winner and hop on a bandwagon rolling its way to victory. Much of Hilary's campaign has been about the story of its own inevitability, and some of her supporters are people who don't feel strongly about her but want to back the winner and suspect she's it. Others will vote where they think their vote will count the most, and if you feel Hilary will do better in November than Obama, you'll vote for her in the primary to ensure a November victory, even if you prefer Obama (or whomever). This is clearly not all voters, the passionate will remain passionate. But how many are truly passionate, and how many are willing to follow which ever way the wind is blowing?

Which is why the second big event of this week, Kennedy's endorsement, is another huge factor in this race. The Kennedy family remains the royal family of the Democratic party, and Ted has been the crazy, drunken, slightly pervie uncle for 45 years now. His endorsement, along with that of the Kennedy children, add a great deal of blowing wind to Obama. If Ted Kennedy thinks Obama is the future of the Democratic party, and so many Americans appear to be agreeing, even in South Carolina for goodness' sake, then it starts looking like just maybe Obama is the future after all, and who doesn't want to be a part of that?

If Edwards drops before Super Tuesday, or if Obama gets another high profile endorsement - a large union, perhaps? - then I think we'll see a huge Obama win on Super Tuesday, and that's the beginning of the end for Hilary. Which is good for all of us, because she's a phenomenal powerhouse in the Senate, and I'd like to see her stay there, as Senate Majority leader ideally (with Edwards as Attorney General, and Dodd as Homeland Security, Biden at State... ah, a man can dream)

But if that weren't enough, there's yet another wrinkle... hands up who think Bloomberg may run? He's been quietly laying the groundwork for nearly a year, and is likely waiting to see what happens in February to decide whether the nation is so truly dissatisfied with both parties as to entertain an Independent. But it would have to be both parties, not just one... while the Republicans are clearly a mess, the Dems are not (yet). Obama-mania could put the kibosh on a Bloomie run, while if Hilary is looking like the expected nominee, I think Bloomberg might just throw his hat in.

Can you imagine if this race sees the first significant woman, African-American, and Jewish candidates all at the same time? If that doesn't scare the crap out of the Republicans, I don't know what would. Except perhaps an African-America Jewish woman candidate. Lesbian. And Vegan. Nice...

On the more boring Republican side, expect to see Guliani and Huckabee drop out by the end of next week as well. Guliani is betting the farm on Florida, but if he doesn't absolutely destroy the others on the 5th he's out of there, and it doesn't look like there will be any tremendous destruction to be witnessed. Huckabee never had much pull outside of the bible belt, and he didn't show well in South Carolina, so he's done too, and nearly broke. If it comes down to McCain vs. Romney (and it will) then you have national security cred and Washington experience vs. economic cred and outsider status, you'll have aged maturity vs. youthful vigor, or perhaps more accurately you'll have really old cranky bastard who rejects several key conservative planks vs. crazy Mormon phony whose positions change depending on whom he's talking to that day... Doesn't look good for most die-hard Republicans, though it's not so bad for moderates of any stripe.

So here's my predictions for the major event next week:

The Giants win! Thhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeee GIANTS WIN!

And for the other big event, Obama wins big or holds his own and then wins big when Edwards drops out, and it's Obama vs. Hilary and McCain vs. Romney for the nominations heading into the summer. If Hilary comes back strong, look for Bloomie to explore the crap out of an independent run in March and April. He'll want to capitalize on the fractious pre-convention in-fighting, and he can easily spend a billion to get his name on the ballots because he's sitting on nine other billions and won't miss it. But his ego is huge, and he'll only step up if people are clamoring for an alternative. If Obama is blossoming with delegates flocking to his side and high profile endorsements, Bloomberg will stay quiet and stay the Mayor of the world's greatest city enjoying his 80% approval ratings. While being filthy rich.

Further speculations...

If it's McCain vs. Obama coming out of the conventions, which at this point is what I suspect it will be, I think it might just be Obama for the win in November. McCain has a lot of crazy in him, and I don't think we've seen it all just yet, while Obama is looking better and better as he gets the hang of this whole running for national office thing. Though to be candid, I'll never underestimate the Democratic ability to blow a sure-thing election, and I wouldn't be surprised - though I would be ashamed - to see identity politics undermine an otherwise exciting Obama candidacy. Hilary and Obama could sour the entire nation on either of them, such that the Republican nominee looks like a saner choice for the large population of moderate voters in both parties, voters who could go either red or blue, depending on the candidate.

I think the only people who can blow this for the Democrats are the Democrats, and if history teaches us anything, don't put it past 'em...

Obama could actually take this. Though I still would like to see him take a stand on some issues. Actual issues. Not just hope. You're pro-hope. I get it. Congratulations, what a bold position...

January 24, 2008

Al Gore - unplugged

Over the past 18 months as I've tauted my firm belief that Al Gore should be our next President (not to mention our current one) I've been prepared to put my money where my mouth is, should he enter the race. Just say the world Al, I'm on your team.

Despite my sadness and concern for the welfare of the entire human race following his lack of candidacy, after watching Hilary and Obama settle into the same old routine of being total assholes to each other, and after seeing the slow diminishment of the once-great Bill Clinton as he morphs into a mean little propoganda troll, I've rethought my disappointment a bit.

I'm glad Al Gore isn't running. Because he's able to do things like this, with no pandering, no spinning, no worrying about how it will play, how it will affect his campaign contributions... Of course at the same time, this is exactly why I'm such a supporter (and I remind you, have been since spring of 1988)

With no fanfare, merely because he was asked his opinion, here's Al's take on gay marriage in America:

Though a deeply religious man, Al recognizes that people forming monogamous pair bonds is good for society regardless of their orientation, and so the government -- though it need not endorse gay marriage -- should not stand in the way.

Yet another reason why the theft of his Presidency is one of the most tragic occurrences in modern history, and not just for America, but for the entire world.

Here's a little more on why I love Gore, written by a contributor at Huffpost:

He says what needs to be said without fear, without posturing. He leads. He succeeds in the worlds of politics, business, and diplomacy. He reads and writes history. He has access to the smartest people on the planet. He has a loving, close-knit family who are his best friends. He rose from the politically dead in 2000, left behind by his "friends" who thought he could no longer help them, having lost an election to thieves.
read more

January 20, 2008

3rd Tyne's the Charm!

For a NY sports fan, after a NY team winning, the penultimate greatest possible result of any sporting contest is the team from Boston losing. Any team. Any sport. Boston losing is such a satsifying consolation to New Yorkers, it is like a magic healing salve of nearly all emotional wounds that might ail us.

All through-out the playoffs my most fervent wish was that the Patriots would keep winning, making it to the super bowl with their perfect season intact only to blow their miracle season at the last possible step. Rather than an insufferable record that would last for years, Boston'll instead be saddled with the "almost-perfect" season, the choke, the football equivalent of the Buckie-Ball, yet another great sports indignity that would leave their men broken, their ego's crushed, with the lamentation of their women crying to the heavens for some relief of the shameful indignity of failure that their pathetic half-men subjected them too. "Whaaah, I was a sixth round draft pick, whhhaaaaaaaah" Fuck off, Tom Brady, go knock up another supermodel and whine about everything being so horrible for you.

That it has come to pass that it could very well be the NY Football Giants who could bring about my fondest wish ushering in a future of happiness, sunshine, and bunnies (for everyone but Patriots fans), it's just too delicious to describe. NY winning and the Pats losing? Ahhhhhhh...

Considering their record (and their quarterback) I hadn't even considered it a possibility that the Giants might beat the Packers this week... What a recovery for the guy who was almost the Charlie Brown of NY football for the rest of his life, Lawrence Tynes. He couldn't make two relatively simple field goals, yet he made the extraordinary final one for the win and so will be spared the horrible pasting th NY Post and Daily News would have given him.

Instead, tomorrow's NY Post headline will be something like 3rd Tyne's the Charm, and this guy can show his face in the tri-state area with pride rather than fear.

Such a crazy turn of events, Dallas, Green Bay, and Indianapolis all taken out... Though I can't say I've been much of a Giants fan this season, I do tend to root for NY over everyone else and more importantly I've been a rabid, avid, anti-Patriots fan for years. So let's go Giants!

January 06, 2008

It's back! But where's Nitro?

The single greatest show of the 90's is back. I totally enjoyed the new, updated American Gladiators, not the least because it's hosted by Hulk Hogan. Didn't really need to see 2 hours of it, but glad it's back!

Iowa Debrief

Still wrapping my head around the new primary schedules, amazed that we'll likely have both the Democratic and Republican party nominees in hand by Valentine's Day... can you imagine the pain this summer will bring? Rather than several months of intra-party scrabbling followed by several months of mono-a-mono, we'll get 7-9 months straight of blue vs. red spin. NOT looking forward to it. Especially because Al Gore never jumped in, which would have at least made it interesting. But no such luck.

Considering the candidates we do have, some thoughts following the Iowa caucus:
Obama is doing very well, but the scrutiny has been relatively low. At some point, someone somewhere will corner him and require that he clearly define what he believes in (other than "hope") and Obama'll need some serious answers. Just being the candidate of change will wear thin as more and more people realize that all the candidates are candidates of change, to some degree or another.

Romney outspent Huckabee 6:1 in Iowa, and it didn't help. Perhaps money can't buy votes? Don't believe it... Iowa wasn't going to Romney no matter how much Romney spent - but other states are up for grabs and cash will make a difference in tighter races. Who's going to have the most left rolling into Super Tuesday, and who will have a strategy for where it'll do the most good? My bet is on Guliani to win the finance and financial strategy game. Ultimately it won't help him, but it'll make him a real player this fall, and in the next administration should the Republican win.

Hilary has counted on the inevitability of her campaign for the past year. Now that outcome is in doubt, and if she doesn't win in New Hampshire, she's lost that ground for good. Let's not forget what happened to the most recent Democratic front-runner who came in third in Iowa... Which is good news, as the best thing that can happen for all of us, including Hilary, is for her to stay right where she can to extraordinary good - in the Senate, wrangling Democrats for (or against) the next President.

Dodd and Biden are out - which is a pity, because though unelectable, they were the two best qualified, intelligent, and candid candidates out there. Dodd promises to continue to fight against retroactive immunity for the telecom industry as they try and get away with illegally turning over consumer records to the government. Dodd's a good man; here's to finding a good place for him in the fall, should a Democrat win.

I wish I could like Huckabee more - he's got so much going for him, but then BAM - overzealous religiosity for the win. Despite poll after poll that confirms that fewer and fewer Americans have an issue with homosexuals, and that those who do are aging and will die off before too much longer, Huckabee is committed due to his religious beliefs to pursue the disenfranchising of a portion of Americans he doesn't approve of. While his desire to legislate according to his religious belief is in and of itself neither illegal nor a bar to his running for office, it is something that will keep me from getting excited about his otherwise very exciting campaign and Iowa success. I have no problem with his faith, I do have a problem with his expectation that others live according to his faith...
One last point which was made on TV today, which was so obvious and yet I didn't even notice it until it was mentioned - Obama won Iowa, and race wasn't a factor in the vote. And not only was race not a factor, but that race wasn't a factor went largely unnoticed by everyone involved, and I'm pretty proud of that. I think America is ready for both an African-American President and/or a woman President; whether Obama and Hilary are the two to do it is to be determined, but it seems like as a nation we're ready to consider women and people of color for the office, which wasn't true not terribly long ago. Good for us (little victories, you know?)

Considering who's left, I'm an Edwards man, myself. My friend Adam found a great calculator online to determine where you fall on the political/cultural spectrum. Give it a try - http://www.electoralcompass.com

January 03, 2008

Brushes with Fame

I remember once when I was very young, about seven or so, I was watching a movie on TV with my Mom when she recognized the name of a high school friend in the opening credits. That moment stuck with me, as I was very taken with the idea that you could actually know somebody who was on TV or in the movies.

Though my particular efforts in showbiz didn't result in fame, I've several friends and acquaintances that have gone on to some notoriety, and it's rare that a week will go by without some experience of fame-by-association. For instance, driving home tonight I pulled up behind an SUV with a DVD player, and was close enough to note the movie playing in their front seat was Maid in Manhattan which co-starred Marissa Matrone.

Though I haven't seen Marissa since 1992, I've no doubt that if she's ever interviewed by Jay Leno, she'd note that her experience being directed by me in a one act in 1989 was a pivotal moment in her training...