Friday, October 31, 2008

Obama for President.

This might be my last post for a few days, so I thought I'd wrap up this week, and this campaign, with an appeal for your vote.

Earlier this week, a McCain supporter asked me why I thought Obama was qualified to be president. Before I found out that this man wasn't sincere, I thought he was serious and really wanted to know.

As it turned out, he was a whack job. All he wanted was for me, once shown the light, to agree with him that Obama is a muslim terrorist who will steal your guns, make love to your women and barbecue your household pets.

But before he revealed his crazy nature, I answered him like this:

A wise man once said that we don't elect presidents to govern, we elect them to lead. Resumes, while they're instructive, don't tell us everything. Lincoln's resume was as thin as Obama's, but he was what we needed during a dark time.

Obama has run a multimillion dollar campaign with remarkable discipline and a cool head. He has inspired millions to think about politics with hope rather than cynicism.

Obama has called us to serve and challenged us to take ownership of the change that's needed to right this floundering ship.

Obama speaks to us like we're grownups instead of willful, irresponsible children. He has moved beyond the politics of fear and resentment. He has given us a choice between a level-headed young man of intelligence, hard work, energy and optimism versus an irritable 72-year-old who is still caught up in the cultural battles of the 60's, a man who has shown abysmal judgment in everything from his choice of VP to his embrace of the Bush trickle-down snake oil.

That's why I voted for Obama. And if you haven't voted yet, that's why I ask you to choose the future instead of the past.

Vote for Obama. You'll like yourself in the morning.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Let's not talk about it and maybe those politicians will go away.

Let's talk about movies instead of that other thing in the news.

I was reading The Atlantic the other day and came across a review of David Thomson's new collection of idiosyncratic film commentary called, Have You Seen...?

But I don't want to talk about that, either.

I want to talk about something the reviewer, Benjamin Schwarz, says about a recent seminar he taught. The students were all seniors at UCLA, a place that cranks out future directors, DPs and others who want to work in the city's main industry.

Schwarz says the students "... fancy themselves sophisticated filmgoers, but haven't seen Grand Illusion, Chinatown, or a single John Ford, Cary Grant, or Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie."

Wow. So I wondered along with Schwarz, how can you consider yourself a lover of film without seeing a single Cary Grant movie? There are so many, surely you would stumble across Harvey,* North By Northwest, or Bringing Up Baby somewhere along the way.

I'm going to do the old man thing here and say, in my day, you couldn't dispatch a message to Netflix and have the film in your mailbox the next day. We had to wait for movies to come on late night TV and if you didn't catch them then, you remained an ignorant heathen. I didn't see The Maltese Falcon until I was almost 35 and the movie is what led me to the book that led me to the genre that led me to writing crime novels.

But today, you can see almost anything you want on a whim, in beautifully restored, uncut prints, often with commentary from the director or star. And still these young film fans haven't seen The Searchers? Really?

(For a great article about why The Searchers and John Ford matter, read this article by AO Scott.)

I don't bring this up to whine about the days Before Netflix, but to ask, do you really need to have seen some of the classic films if you want to consider yourself a "sophisticated filmgoer?"

I think so, but a friend here at work says you don't.

So what do you think? Are there films you haven't seen but know your education is somehow lacking because of it? Or do you think you don't need this background to appreciate today's movies? And does this apply to books?

Talk to me.
*UPDATE: Yes, I know Harvey is not a Cary Grant picture. I fucked up, ok?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

There are some things that smell so bad, even dung beetles won't push them.

It started in Wisconsin. A telemarketer was so disgusted he quit rather than read one of McCain's sleazeball calls about Obama.

NYT columnist Gail Collins wrote about Ted Zoromski in The Confessions of a Phone Solicitor this past Saturday. This is Ted's story:

Zoromski was prepared to interrupt people during their dinner hours to encourage them to vote Republican. But when he got the script saying “you need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge’s home and killed Americans,” he packed it in.

“Even though I was paid to do it, I didn’t feel comfortable,” Zoromski told WKOW-TV.

"We were asked to read something saying [Obama and Democrats] were against protecting children from danger," [one] worker said. "I wouldn't do it. A lot of people left. They thought it was disgusting."
I have my own confession to make. Long ago, when I was desperate for money, I whored myself out in New York city, making calls as Officer Shannon with the Police Athletic League. I called local businesses and sold them ads for the PAL's yearbook, a publication whose entire run would be forever housed in a warehouse somewhere across the river in New Jersey.

I reached the owner of a small bakery, and as I'd been trained, I told him who I was (or wasn't), suggested he'd helped the PAL the previous year (he hadn't), and wondered if maybe he'd like to help the boys and girls buy new equipment and uniforms again this year.

"Sure," the guy said. "How much space did I buy last year?"

"A full page," I lied.

He bought the ad. The full page ad. My commission was something like $125, a fortune at the time. But when it struck me that I'd just sold my soul for a little over 100 bucks, I quit.

People don't take these jobs because they feel a calling (no pun intended). They do it because they're broke and have nothing better.

When you're this desperate, it takes a lot to make you walk. But the McCain campaign found that depth so rancid that not even phone solicitors, people who have few choices, will take the money.

I find this news hopeful. Just this morning, I heard about a woman who worked in the credit rating business and wrote to a colleague last year, "Let's hope we're all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falters :-)."

I guarantee this lamprey was making more money than those phone workers, and yet they've shown more class than all the Wall Street blood suckers combined.

And a lot more class than the sacks of shit who are behind John McCain's stinking campaign calls.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

You damn Jacobites!

In an interesting look at the devolution of Republican party politics, Josh Marshall over at TPM asks:

"But does 'socialism', as a cudgel in the context of a national political campaign, not simply sound archaic?"

Until I'd read this, I couldn't put my finger on why McCain calling Obama a Socialist sounded so odd. It's like calling your opponent a Wobblie.

And spread the wealth? Isn't that what all taxes do? When they take 3+ bucks out of every ten from my pocket, and send part of it to China for interest on the debt, part of it to Halliburton to pay for Cheney's virgin blood transfusions, and another part of it to the NSA so they can listen in on GIs doing a little heavy breathing with their sweeties back home, isn't that spreading the wealth?

I heard a GOP pundit this morning, a little down, but seeing some reason for hope. Why? Because this taxing Joe the Plumber attack seems to be moving McCain in a positive direction. Really? Is this how the election will swing, once again? On taxes?

We're ten trillion dollars in debt. We have a deficit that McCain can't wave away with a few budget cuts. Even by eliminating earmarks, he'll influence a tiny sliver of the Federal budget, and we're not even talking about the financial cost of starting a war with Iran.

And yet voters are being swayed to McCain's vision by the threat that Obama will raise taxes on incomes of over a quarter million dollars from 36% to 39%? Really? Three percentage points on incomes over $250 grand? Really? This is what's resonating with the undecided voter?

Who the fuck are these people?

Some days it frightens me that this is the same regular Joe who is operating a ton-and-a-half SUV at 70 miles per hour not more than ten feet away from my little sedan. No telling when a passing thought, as rare as that must be, will distract him long enough to drift into my lane.

Eleven more days. Eleven more days. It can't end soon enough.

Great things I found over lunch.

These patriotic girls are doing their part for the cause.

And on the other side of the electoral mud pit, here are some people who love Sarah Palin. Be careful, you might get some stupid on you and that stuff is impossible to get out.


I'm learning Italian, a little at a time. So far I can say my name.

Mi chiamo David.

I can say that I don't understand.

Non capisco.

I can tell a stranger that I need a doctor.

Ho bisogno di un dottore.

Tell them where it hurts.

Mi fa male qui.

Tell someone I have a flat tire.

Ho una gomma sgonfia.

Order pasta.

Vorrei pasta.

And tell a bartender when to cut me off.

Sono ubriaco.

I've wanted to learn Italian for years and now I'm trying, a phrase at a time. Why? I tell Jenny it's because I want to take her to Italy next year, but I have another reason. If the economy goes into the tank in a big way, I would rather be broke in Italy than broke in America. Here's one reason why:

This is the Italian idea of an afternoon TV talk show hostess. We have Rosie O'Donnell.

Not coincidentally, I'm voting today. This will be the first time in a long time my vote for president may make a difference. North Carolina a swing state? It only took eight years of George Bush and an incompetent John McCain campaign to put this state into play and some of our locals have been so skeert by years of Jesse Helms style booga booga, and the e-mails saying Obama is a muslim, that it's still not a slam dunk.

So, I'm not uncorking any champagne. I've been here before, only to wake up on that hungover Wednesday morning, my ass on fire, my guitar gone and my bank account empty.

What will I do if John McCain wins?

Barista, vorrei un vodka.

And keep 'em coming.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

If these plucky kids could vote, who would they vote for?

Sure, Colin Powell likes Obama, but if you're like me, you've been waiting to see which of our presidential candidates would snag the influential al-Qaida endorsement. Until I saw this news, I could have sworn it would be Bob Barr, but no.

It's been announced, and the candidate of al-Qaida is none other than Senator John McCain. An intelligence group monitors this terrorist web site and translated their endorsement for McCain, which said he was more likely to continue Bush's policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From the story:

"This requires presence of an impetuous American leader such as McCain, who pledged to continue the war till the last American soldier," the message said. "Then, al-Qaida will have to support McCain in the coming elections so that he continues the failing march of his predecessor, Bush."

This is going to make John cranky, I'm afraid. And Sarah Palin might have to add an addendum to the list of people who pal around with terrorists.

So, will al-Qaida actively campaign for the man from Arizona? Let's hope not. Here's more from the message:

"If al-Qaida carries out a big operation against American interests," the message said, "this act will be support of McCain because it will push the Americans deliberately to vote for McCain so that he takes revenge for them against al-Qaida. Al-Qaida then will succeed in exhausting America till its last year in it."

Of course, this could be a trick. In fact, the syntax sounds an awful lot like Sarah Palin's. So who knows.

But as much as I might be swayed by this endorsement, I think I'll stick with That One. Because, as a native of Western Pennsylvania, I saw this yesterday:

Update: Barry Eisler weighs in on the al-Qaida endorsement with a timely reminder.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

This picture makes me unreasonably happy.

There's something about the sheer dad-ness in this photo that makes me near giddy. I stole this from my friends over at First Draft and wanted to pass it along because, if you're like me, you need all the good vibes the universe can muster in these last two weeks before the election.

Why? Well, how about Palin's pandering to the "pro-America areas of this great nation." Or that batshit crazy congresswoman from Minnesota, Michelle Bachman, who wants her fellow congress critters investigated to see which are pro-American and which are not.

Paging Joe McCarthy, Joe McCarthy please pick up the white courtesy phone.

(the silver lining is that once word of this proposed witch hunt got out, Bachman's opponent got over $700 grand in donations. Why not do America a favor and send a little foldable love here.)

But it was this morning, as I was doing my bending and lifting, that I felt part of my soul leave my body. Against all sound judgement, I had clicked onto MSNBC's celebration of self-regard, "Morning Dick," (Jesus, I hate this program) and lost minutes of my life listening to those giant heads bat around this newsy bit like it was a dead mouse.

If you haven't heard about this Obama campaign catastrophe yet, hang onto your hats, because this is big, really really big.

Are you ready?

Apparently, Joe Biden said that if Obama gets elected, the world will "test" him in the first 6 months.

OMG! Tested? The President? Everyone run around! Wave your arms in the air! What will we do? What will we do?

McCain snatched at this slender reed and hurrumphed about the next president not having time to get used to the office, creating the greatest non sequitur of his thoroughly ass-hatted campaign.

Yep, that's the big news this morning, trumping the economy, war, healthcare, trade, the national debt, immigration, terrorism, infrastructure, energy and Bill Ayers. The president will be tested.

Sweet Jesus, we live in a vacuous nation.

If it wasn't for Netflix, I'd take John Prine's advice.

Monday, October 20, 2008

1000 reasons to complain that have nothing to do with politics.

The New York Times has a list of the 1000 best films EVER. Who put together the list, I don't know because I was too lazy to look. Why they hate America is a mystery.

But like all of these lists, this one has an expected degree of suckitude depending on which movies any pinhead should have included, but for reasons known only to others who had been dropped on their noggins as a child, did not.

For instance, they mention Chaplin's The Great Dictator, but consign the brilliant City Lights to the dustbin of cinema history.

They rightly included Duck Soup, but left A Night at the Opera standing abandoned on the dock. What? Was there no sanity clause in their contract?

But at least the Marx frere earned their nod. My boys, Stan and Ollie, were dissed completely, with nary a mention of Sons of the Desert or Way Out West. Sacrilege.

The Heartbreak Kid, a pleasant enough movie starring Charles Grodin and Cybill Shepherd made the cut. Harper did not.

No Harper.

No Paul Newman. No screenplay by William Goldman from a novel by Ross Macdonald.

No Harper.

Jesus wept.

And the vastly overrated Desperately Seeking Susan is on the list but Das Boot is sunk somewhere off the coast of reason. I know where I'd like to bury my das boot.

Because these critics, whoever they are, felt it was safe to include the Coens' Raising Arizona and Fargo, both terrific movies, but The Big Lebowski was as welcome as an incontinent marmot.


Take a look at the list. Are your favorites there? Or, when it came to picking the absolute best, were the overpaid critics about as discerning as John McCain on an ibogaine binge?

Talk to me.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Republican women are misunderstood.

In California, a Republican women's club showed just how they keep their husbands amused without ever mussing their hair.

The side-splitting illustration up there is from the newsletter put out by the distaff members of the GOP's San Bernardino klavern. As you can see, someone has put Obama's face on food stamps, which explains the ribs, fried chicken and watermelon.

What? You think it's racist? In the interest of fairness, before we tar this baby with that brush, let's let the women sprechen for themselves.

From the LA Times:

"I apologize to anyone who was offended because that was not my intent," said club President Diane Fedele. "...It was strictly an attempt to point out the outrageousness of Obama's statement that he doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills."
See? It was all because of Obama's outrageous statements. Just like when their husbands are forced to strike them when they get out of line, Obama brought this on himself. He made them do it.

If Obama had kept his mouth shut and learned his place, these women would never have done anything that intolerant people might find intolerant.

To prove the innocence of this illustration, let's take a quick poll.

Anyone who thinks this is funny, please raise your hand.

See? It was just a joke. A funny, funny joke.

Next week, these GOP women will kick off their annual Gyp A Jew for Jesus bake sale, complete with home-made goodies fresh from the ovens.

Bring the kinder!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

If this is the conservative movement's idea of a romantic cruise, it's a wonder they procreate at all.

No, this is not a joke. This is a real Valentine's Day cruise being offered to America's right-leaning romantics. And really, what says romance better than a moonlight stroll around the lido deck with Ed Meese?

Maybe a candlelight dinner at the Captain's table with Tom Tancredo? Or pillow talk with John Ashcroft?

Hardline immigration policies just add a certain spark to your V-Day lovemaking.

The sponsor of this cruise is the Young America's Foundation, and tangoing on the fantail with Alan Simpson is sure to make any young lover's heart beat faster.

Rates start at $4281 per person, which in these tough times might seem a little high, but how can you put a price on ten days at sea discussing the books of Ayn Rand and the music of Ted Nugent with like-minded right-thinking people who are guaranteed to never challenge a thought in your head?

The cruise includes a stop in Key West, where Ron Robinson leads the midnight hunt of homosexuals and Ashcroft holds a witch trial for stray calicos.

In Mexico, Tom Tancredo will point out all the people he doesn't want in America.

In Latin America, there will be a special celebration honoring the Guatemalan military where couples who want to relive the Roaring Reagan 80's will get to shoot Mayans from a helicopter.

So sign up today. At this special Greenspan-inspired rate, the romantic hideaway cabins will disappear faster than the Republican party's principles.

I found this somewhere yesterday, but I don't remember where, so if I stole it from your blog without giving you the appropriate hat tip, I apologize. Click on the picture to get the AARP-approved size.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hi, I'm Mickey Mouse and I'm here to steal the election.

It's happening. The GOP is so worried about an Obama landslide, (although with all those sleeper cell Diebold machines lying in wait, I don't know why) that they're flogging this ACORN story like it's a magical conflation of the Second Coming and Krispy Kremes. Since last Friday, Fox News has mentioned ACORN more than 300 times.

For those who don't know ACORN, it's a non-profit that advocates for the poor and part of their work is registering new voters. Yes, it's highly partisan and solidly in the tank for Obama, no question. ACORN pays people to register voters, and they pay based on the number of people registered, which just about begs some homeless guy to write in a bunch of phony names, including Mr. Mouse.

Voter registration fraud, no doubt, and it's ACORN who is defruaded out of some Night Train cash. But, it is not voter fraud. Voter fraud would be me showing up at the polls claiming to be Mr. Mickey Mouse and casting a vote. I think that's highly unlikely, don't you?

But if you listened to CNN this morning, you never would have known that. To the casual listener, this was evidence of Obama supporters trying to steal the election.

In my opinion, it's far more likely that those machines will take your vote for Obama and magically change it to a vote for McCain, but I admit, I'm a little crazy after eight years of George Bush and the fear-driven GOP campaigns of the last 20 years.

But, compared to these people, I'm the poster boy for mental health.

Bob, the guy who runs the blog Confederate Yankee, lives here in North Carolina and I've always thought he was deluded, but basically sane. Now, I'm not so sure. He and his readers are frothing at the mouth over the prospect of an Obama presidency.

It's not enough for Obama to be wrong, they have to make him the anti-Christ. Here are just a few samples posted by Bob's regular readers. Sweet Jesus, but this is a giant bucketload of crazy.

"Those who vote for Stalinbama vote out of a sense complete denial of the facts that are now coming to the surface, no thanks to the US MSM Pravda."

"For twenty years he sat in the pew as his 'pastor' spewed anti-American, white-hating filth. Obama brought his wife and kids. The only religion he ever exposed his children to was Marxism with a thin veneer of religion."

"As always, the people of the Right earn the money and the people of the Left squander it ... Some will remember that a fine man, John Heinz, left considerable sums in trusts and to his widow, Theresa. That fortune is now ammo for the socialistic takeover of this nation."
I've often voted for losing candidates. Each time I've always hoped I had been wrong and that the winning guy would be really good for the country. Sometimes the guy was good, sometimes the guy was bad, and sometimes the guy was a complete disaster.

But for a lot of people out there, they need their crazy. You've seen them at Palin rallies. You hear them on talk radio. To them, Obama has to be "that one," a secret America-hater, a Marxist, a Socialist, a Fascist, a Communist, a Manchurian candidate who will steal the election, kill your babies and fill the government with scary Arabs, muslims, terrorists and angry angry Negroes.

Look out! Be afraid! It's a centrist Democrat from Illinois! Oh, the humanity!

I don't know about you, but I can't wait for this election to be over.

Frantic paranoia is exhausting.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I love dogs.

This guy just returned from Iraq.

Welcome home.


Bush is telling people that in these difficult times, it's a good thing he's president.

And I am the Queen of France.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A hero for our times.

As CEOs bail out of their busted companies with golden parachutes, our president squanders what little trust the country still has in him, politicians on all sides hide their heads to cover their asses, and once hardened capitalists look to the government to save them, one man stands up for the forgotten little guy and says, "Enough."

He is Sheriff Tom Dart of Cook County, Illinois.

It's the ugly job of the sheriff and his men to serve eviction notices and when a landlord fails to pay his mortgage, the banks foreclose, and tenants, even those who have been paying their rent, get tossed out on the street. Tom Dart has decided he's done with that.

To explain his new position, he wrote a column in the Chicago Sun Times. This is, in part, what he wrote:

Too many times, our deputies arrive at a home to carry out a mortgage foreclosure eviction, only to find a tenant - dutifully paying their rent each month - who is unaware their landlord stopped using that rent money to pay the mortgage. They had no fair warning that they were about to be thrown out of their home.

That's because, in many cases, the banks have done nothing to determine, in advance, who's living in the building - even though it's required by state law. Instead, those banks expect taxpayers to pay for that investigative work for them.

That stops today.


I may be held in contempt of court over this. If that's the case, I'm willing to accept it...

I don't know if this guy is a Democrat or Republican and I don't care. This is the kind of man America needs as our institutions fail us, the rich and powerful lock the emergency exits on their way out, and our potential leaders stubbornly insist on refighting the 60's in every election.

Sheriff Tom Dart, a hero for the week, and maybe for the decade.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

McCain/Palin unveil a new campaign ad.

They just didn't trust the base to get the message.

Quoting a fascist in Sarah's speeches went over their heads. Trying to figure out what gutting a moose had to do with lowering taxes made their brains hurt. Even painting Obama as a terrorist had them wondering why he didn't die with the other 9/11 hijackers.

So they've gone simple.

For the more sophisticated GOPer like Rich Lowry, Young Republicans and others who can't get a date, they've put Sarah in heels.

Jesus, I think this kid just busted an egg in his shorts.

Thanks to Jesus' General, Eschaton and Pam's House Blend.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

This one is for that one.

CafePress has pages of new designs using "That One" for Obama gear.

That's less than 24 hours after McCain, in his cranky old man condescension, referred to his opponent as "that one."

"That one," Mr. McCain, as in the guy who beat you like a rented mule in last night's debate.

But I'm sure McCain is completely unaware of this phenomenon because he can't use The Google and it's unlikely anyone on his staff will show him.

He's been snappish lately.

News from David Brooks' real America.

David Brooks, one of the wrongest people in America with a record to prove it, is a columnist for the liberal New York Times. David has often gazed into the near distance, a wistful gleam in his eye, and talked at length about the virtues of the True America, that land that lies somewhere west of New York, east of L.A. and just south of Reality.

David doesn't live in that Land of Promise and Wonder, no. But he assures us that there is where you'll find the Real Americans, those yeoman farmers who shoulder this great Republic, men and women of stout heart who still raise their neighbor's barn and gather in the town hall to give voice to their democratic (read: Republican) ideals. These are the same simple folk who gather 'round Sarah Palin and call for the murder of people they don't like.

What David doesn't mention often enough is the creative spirit of these Real Americans. So here, thanks to my friend and co-worker Eric, is a true story from Utah. It shows just how one Utah neighbor worked things out when he and his new neighbor had a dispute. You gotta love this.

Mark Easton is a city councilman in Someplace, Utah and had a great view of the mountains from his house.

Then a new neighbor had the audacity to build himself a home between Mark and the mountain. Mark, being an anal city councilman, discovered that this new home was 18 inches higher than the ordinances would allow.

Mark sicced the city wolverines on the neighbor and forced him to lower the roof. According to the news stories, this wasn't cheap.

The neighbor, who the story unfortunately doesn't name, is my hero of the day. In response to Mark's dickishness, my new hero installed vents where Mark could see them every day.

Want to see what Mark sees?

So, David Brooks, in his love for Middle America, needs to mention their sense of humor every now and then. Because this is great.

To all my friends at Bouchercon this weekend, have a drink for me.

Maybe next year.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

How can I get this job, part 2.

This is Richard Morris, but everyone calls him Dick. You'll see why in a minute.

Dick came to public attention during the Clinton years. A hooker said that Dick was one of her regular customers and that he liked to suck her toes.

I'm sorry. That's more information than we should know about anyone.

Especially Dick.

Dick Morris goes on Fox talk shows and lets his wisdom spew forth like a wino after a bad burrito. To Fox News viewers he's known as a political analyst. To the sane world he's known as a bloated, overpaid buffoon.

And I want his job.

To get a better idea of the standards a Fox News political analyst has to meet, read Glenn Greenwald over at Salon. He caught Dick in this revealing tale of true dickocity.

Here's Dick talking to Bill O'Reilly about John McCain's decision to suspend his campaign, fly back to Washington and save the day like Mighty Mouse, only older and crankier:

"'s the most brilliant move since Sarah Palin...He's going to solve the problem, because the key is the bailout's going to pass. And [McCain's] going to get credit for it."
That was on September 24th. Two days later he told Newsmax:

"...This bold move by McCain is about to work. Big time."
Today in the NY Post he says:

"...John McCain's effort to get involved in the solution only hurt him. By suspending his campaign and heading to Washington, McCain made himself a central actor in the unpopular outrage."

So I want this job. How do I fashion myself a pundit? It's got to pay better than writing. And wouldn't it be cool to flack my next novel on The Factor? Maybe Bill would feature it with his Factor Gear, alongside the pleated Factor Pants.

So what do I have to do? Where do I sign?

From what we know about Dick (and Bill), you can have the morals of a three-peckered goat and still be a political analyst at Fox News. You can pontificate, bloviate and prevaricate, without ever having the burden of being right. Just look at Bill Kristol.

Folks, this is my dream job. I'd be perfect. I've been writing fiction for years. So, I have to know, how does one get an analyst gig at Fox and appear alongside the Really Deep Thinkers like Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy?

I bet it helps if you're really a Dick.

The Honorable John McCain, stunt man.

John McCain is desperate for a new distraction and has already proven he will do and say anything to be president.

Here's his latest tack. McCain is telling voters that we don't really know Obama. He's a mystery man, raised on a distant Pacific Island, sired by a shadow, and schooled in a foreign classroom. He's a Chicago politician who plots against America with Bill Ayers and Reverend Wright. He's the favorite candidate of Hamas terrorists and Hollywood liberals. Look out! You don't know him! He's risky!

Booga Booga!

Well, McCain's right. I don't know Obama. Hell, there are things I don't know about my co-workers and I see them every day.

If anyone says they know a candidate by what they've seen on TV, that person is delusional. A few years ago, a knuckleheaded blogger said there was no love in the Clinton marriage. "How can you know?" I asked. "How can anyone know what goes on inside a marriage?"

She said she knows them. She never met them. She never had a person-to-person chat with either of them. But she knew enough about them to know there was no love there.

This woman obviously has no respect for the mystery of a successful marriage. I've been Jenny's husband for 28 years and I still don't know why we work so well together.

But back to McCain and his attempt at frightening me into voting for him. He's right, I don't know Obama. But how much do we really know about McCain? I thought I knew his POW story, the one where he was offered early release and he bravely said he wouldn't leave until all the POWs could go home. I've always believed that story and gave McCain a lot of slack because of this example of almost unbelievable heroism.

But there were things about this story I didn't know. According to a new article in Rolling Stone, two of McCain's fellow POWs say there's more to this story than McCain tells.

"What McCain glosses over is that accepting early release would have required him to make disloyal statements that would have violated the military's Code of Conduct. If he had done so, he could have risked court-martial and an ignominious end to his military career.

'Many of us were given this offer, according to [Phil] Butler, McCain's classmate who was also taken prisoner. 'It meant speaking out against your country and lying about your treatment to the press. You had to 'admit' that the U.S. was criminal and that our treatment was 'lenient and humane.' So I, like numerous others, refused the offer.'

'He makes it sound like it was a great thing to have accomplished,' says [John] Dramesi. 'A great act of discipline or strength. That simply was not the case.'"

This isn't meant to diminish McCain's experience. It's just to say that I thought I knew his most famous story and as it turns out, I didn't.

There is a lot about John McCain that I don't know, particularly since he seems to be a different man today than he was in 2000. Hell, he's a different man today than he was last week.

So, if you want to know more about this guy you thought you knew, read this article in the current Rolling Stone.

The writer, Tim Dickinson, says:

"In its broad strokes, McCain's life story is oddly similar to that of the current occupant of the White House. ... Both were born into positions of privilege against which they rebelled into mediocrity ... At each step, with the aid of their fathers' powerful friends, both failed upward.


In one vital respect, however, the comparison is deeply unfair to the current president: George W. Bush was a much better pilot."

You still won't know John McCain, but you'll learn things about him he probably wishes you didn't know. Like this assessment by former POW John Dramesi:

"McCain says his life changed while he was in Vietnam, and he is now a different man," Dramesi says today. "But he's still the undisciplined, spoiled brat that he was when he went in."

Monday, October 06, 2008

Here it comes.

Looks like the Fox chyron guy is busy as a beaver, shorthanding McCain talking points to make it easier for the ill-informed to digest the news.

Obama is a terrorist.

Obama is "dangerous" and "disrespectful" to the troops.

Obama hates America because his pastor is an angry black man.

Obama will eat your puppy.

Desperate and out of ideas, the McCain campaign is rolling out the sleaze machine, the Mighty Wurlitzer of character assassination that has never met a smear, lie or innuendo that couldn't be exploited for a 24 hour news cycle. It's the default position of today's modern GOP.

In an interview with Bill Kristol, the fact-free columnist of the liberal New York Times, Sarah Palin dragged Reverend Wright back onto center stage. This from a woman whose own pastor is obsessed with witches.

Last spring, when Republicans here in North Carolina ran a Reverend Wright TV spot with the same language as Palin uses in the interview, McCain told them to pull it.

"It's not the message of the Republican Party," he said. "It's not the message of my campaign. I've pledged to conduct a respectful campaign."

But that was then. Principles have a way of changing when your poll numbers go south.

Speaking of chyrons, here's one that was accurate:

You want four more years of this, McCain/Palin is your ticket.

Me, I'd rather go with the black man who hates Jesus.

Friday, October 03, 2008

I done been Palinated.

A few of us went out for lunch today. While we were sitting in traffic, our windows down, a guy in a truck going the opposite direction was cut off by another driver. We heard him assess the other driver as, "Dumber than Palin."

Which inspired me to create a few neologisms in honor of the Governatrix's unique contributions to our political dialogue.

Palinate - (verb) to condescend to your audience by dropping your g's when you talk.

Palindrome - (noun) to be unqualified, coming or going.

Palinize - (verb) to continue saying the same thing, even though the facts have proven you wrong.

Sarahnade - (noun) to talk about small town values as if crystal meth, bigotry and knocked up teens are what made this country great.

Palisseum - (noun) a place where masses assemble to hear a speech they've heard on TV.

Palink - (verb) to blink rapidly when asked a follow-up question.

Palinque - (verb) to blink rapidly when asked a question about foreign policy.

Pallitive - (adj.) words that don't mean anything but make your base feel good while you're losing an election.

Sarate - (verb) to cut your enemies once you achieve power.

Palinism - (noun) a falsehood, told with a wink and a smile.

Paluded - (adj.) to hold with conviction a belief that is flat-out wrong.

Feel free to add your own.

Was there a debate last night?

At the last minute, I passed on meeting Ian Rankin and went home to write. I clocked another 500 words on a new scene and a character that I'd written off as a not-very-bright necessity stood up and did something smart instead, making the scene that much more interesting and opening up opportunities I hadn't seen before.

This is one of the things I love about writing. I start a scene, knowing where it has to go and then the characters get behind the wheel and drive someplace unexpected.

But you don't care about that, do you? You want to hear about the knock down between Joey the Shark and Sarah Barracuda.

Here it is: Sarah didn't fall down or set herself on fire, which means her fans could breathe again. Joe didn't put Lincoln on the radio, so his people could relax.

But you have to admit, the bar was set pretty low for our gal from up north. She didn't, as Lenny Bruce used to say, step on her dick. She stuck to her notes, stayed on message, and did her folksy best to catapult the propaganda and win over J&J Sixpack. I admit I'm biased, but if you buy this kind of Chamber of Commerce charm, you probably shouldn't watch late night infomercials and have access to easy credit.

Again, I'm not an impartial observer, but if last night had been a prize fight and I was the referee, I would have called it about 9:55. Joe was waltzing Sarah around the ring, taking his shots, and Sarah looked like she was boxing way above her weight class. She did come back toward the end and landed a few, but again, our expectations had been set pretty low.

As for Mr. Rankin, I'm sure he did fine without me. And I got another 500 words in on my book.

As for my book, I can't tell you how moved I was by your encouraging comments and emails. Thank you all. I hope I don't disappoint you.

Have a good weekend.

The painting is by Eric Joyner. You can learn more about him and his Rock 'Em Sock 'Em paintings here.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Kathleen Parker meets her readers.

I mentioned Kathleen Parker earlier. She's the conservative columnist who lost confidence in Sarah Palin and wrote about it, amazing all of us who expect blanket apologias for ignorance and incompetence.

It seems Kathleen's getting mail:

"I am a traitor and an idiot. Also, my mother should have aborted me and left me in a Dumpster, but since she didn't, I should "off" myself.Those are just a few nuggets randomly selected from thousands of e-mails..."

Kathleen seems surprised at the spittle-flecked vitriol. Wow. Perhaps she hasn't read some of the right wing blogs that frequently call their neighbors pro-abortion America-haters who deserve to die. Maybe if she'd paid attention when people on Fox News called the 9/11 widows whores or joked about bombing the New York Times, she wouldn't have been caught unaware.

Remember the Texas bumper stickers when New Englanders couldn't afford heating oil? They said, "Let 'em freeze to death in the dark."

But now Kathleen has had the temerity to voice an opinion that goes counter to the party line. Shocked and dismayed she writes:

That doesn't sound American to me, but Stalin would approve...when we decide that a person is a traitor and should die for having an opinion different than one's own, then we cross into territory that puts all freedoms at risk. (I hear you, Dixie Chicks.)

Better late than never, Kathleen. Welcome to the reality-based community.

And so it continues.

This is either a brilliant way to get Americans to lower all expectations for the Governatrix in tonight's debate, or this is one of the least aware individuals to run for high public office since George Bush.

She can't name another Supreme Court decision besides Roe v. Wade that she disagrees with? She's a fucking governor, for God's sake, and she can't name Plessy v. Ferguson? Does Dred Scott ring a bell or Gideon blow any trumpets? Does the name Miranda remind you of anything other than a fruited hat?

OK, I can see how one's brain could go blank on names, but surely she could talk about cases. There was the recent reversal of the president's power to hold prisoners indefinitely. There was the case that overturned Texas' sodomy law. I can't cite the case names, but I know what happened and, knowing the Holy-Joe Sixpack nature of Palin's religio-political worldview, those are two cases she must surely have thought about, if only for a moment while gutting a moose.

Or what about this case? Sweet Jeebus, it's about fucking Alaska. And I do mean fucking Alaska, as in a verb and not an adjective. As one Alaskan said, "This is a knife in the gut."

It happened in June of this year, while she was governor, and Sarah Palin can only prattle on like some clueless kid in the history final, desperately trying to fill in the pages of her blue book?

Do we really want a vice president who couldn't pass a middle school civics course? Do we?

That said, her former opponents in the Alaska governor's race warn that she's a formidable debater, a woman who is short on facts but has a Reagan-like ability to charm and communicate with voters. So, unlike others who hope for a thoughtful grown-up in the White House, I don't think tonight's debate is going to be a cakewalk for Biden. I think Palin will sidestep hard answers and connect with people. Not people who think a lot about Supreme Court cases, or read a lot of newspapers, but people who will nod their heads and say, "I like her. She's just like me."

Incurious, uneducated and proud.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I have a vast variety of sources.

Well, my sanguine nature didn't last long, did it? Listen to this little clip, if you haven't seen it already.

When Katie Couric asked Sarah Palin what papers and magazines she read before McCain selected her as his VP wannabe, she said "all of them" and treaded water for a moment before turning the question into some sort of elite slam on Alaska.

Jesus wept.

If someone asks me what papers and magazines I read, I can give you a list without much thought. But Sarah, for some reason, doesn't want us to know. I mean, she must read something, right?

So what do you think? Pick a newspaper or magazine you think Sarah Palin subscribes to.

I'm going to start the bidding with Guns & Ammo.

Another sucker joins the blogging ranks.

GC Myers, one of my favorite painters has, against all good sense, started a blog. It's called Redtree Times and that painting up there is the masthead, of a sort.

Lots of commentary on painting, getting started, what it's like to have a show in a gallery chock-ablock with adoring fans, the celebrity groupies painters attract and the wild sex and drug parties painters throw after hours with their millions.

OK, I made up a large part of that last bit.

But if you're interested in the life of a painter, check it out.

Where the hell is this thing going?

Writing is a mystery. Last night I discovered I'd written one of the plotlines into a dead end. It's no problem. I turned the damn thing around and went back the way I came, but then I went to bed with the question of where to take this thread from the intersection where I went wrong.

Sometimes, when I go to bed with a plot problem, I wake up with the answer.

But sadly, not this morning. I thought about nothing but this all through my walk with Duncan, my shower, and the commute into work. I think I've worked it through it, but I won't be sure until tonight, when I can attach the seat of my pants to the seat of my chair.

How do you work through missteps like this or do you, like Mozart, write it all dwn once as if you were merely a conduit from the gods?

My gods give me fuck all.

In related news, Ian Rankin is coming to town on Thursday and I'm going to see him. Anyone want me to pass along a howdy?

That's it for today. No news of the strange, no politics, no opening up that dark basket of snakes that is my squiggly subconscious.

Something must be wrong.