Monday, September 29, 2008

Lone Star reps are sputtering mad

- Lone Star Rebellion Brewing - House Republicans from Texas (and elsewhere) are unloading on that well known liberal elitist George W. Bush in debate on the financial rescue plan. Barney Frank captured the spirit of the occasion:

“Madam speaker, I believe the gentleman was a little too harsh on the Bush
administration,” Rep. Barney Frank, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said after
one Republican blasted the bill. “I understand his point of view.”

The fossil version of today's NY Times includes a crude and fairly vicious political cartoon run as a full page ad (p. A11). The ad features Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson as a Stalinist puppet master manipulating Congress and public opinion while Lady Liberty is turned into a Hooverized donation box for Wall Street Banks. The ad is paid for by Bill Perkins, who seems to run Small Ventures, USA - a Houston based venture capital and private equity firm.

It's possible Mr. Perkins has some bets down that will profit from financial collapse - but the look and feel of this ad suggest otherwise. Mr. Perkins seems like a true believer in free markets who is blowing his stack over the bail out and the expanded role for government that tags along with it.

Everyone is mad about the bailout, even those who believe it beats the alternative, but the Texans seem to be turning on Bush with the most fury, convinced that his moment of pragmatism in a crisis is proof that eight years in Washington have turned Bush into a traitor. This sudden, almost violent eruption against a man who was only recently a Texas standard bearer is the stuff from which revolts are made. The Dallas Cowboy's loss yesterday to - you guessed it- the Washington Redskins will add fuel to the fire, and the first shipments of munitions may already be on the way from Caracas to Houston, opportunistically disguised as hurricane relief supplies. Remember the Alamo.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Berserk NY Times Hails Turkmenistan Shift to Democracy as Greedy, Compares New Democracy to North Korea

Eye on Image, Turkmenistan Overhauls Laws - This is a proud day for Turkmenistan, a joyful day for the Turkmens and a day of vindication for As Good As News, the official blog of Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan's President, Doc Gurby, announced that a puppet legislature created by his predecessor will be disbanded, with power to be transferred to a new, democratically elected 125 member Parliament. Monitored parliamentary elections will be held in December.

Our joy is marred only by the Time's continued tawdry treatment of Doc Gurby. In this case, the Times shares the blame with Reuters. Somehow, Reuter's intrepid reporter has read Doc Gurby's mind and determined that this dramatic shift towards democracy is designed to enhance image and attract Western investment. There is absolutely no chance that Doc believes in democracy, no chance he wants to do the right thing for the Turkmens, no possibility that he wants to go down in history as the father of democratic Turkmenistan - no, it's all about attracting Western investment. Apparently the Time's is very cranky because Doc Gurby refuses to play the stereotyped role of greedy, isolationist dictator despite repeated efforts by the Time's to cast him in this part.

First, Doc is not running a secretive kleptocracy, whatever you might think from the constant battering by the Times. His well publicized approach to developing and marketing Turkmenistan's natural gas reserves makes it clear that he's getting the best deals possible for his country. Crooked leaders deal quickly and quietly, giving natural resources away at fire sale prices to the buyer offering the largest bribes.

Second, Doc doesn't need democracy or Western investment. He's already positioned Turkmenistan's natural gas reserves for sale to India and China, booming economies that are not squeamish about dealing with dictators. Doc has already lined up more than enough revenue to hold onto power, if that were his only goal. Even if one reason for democratization is the pursuit of Western investment, this is for the good of the country and its people, not Doc's personal bank account. Why does the headline scream "image" when Doc has announced a very real new constitution that includes a five year term for his own office. What facts justify treating Doc's announcement as if it were some kind of show intended for Western consumption? The story and its headline are long on presumption, short on fact.

Finally, consider the last paragraph of the linked story:

Turkmenistan retains, with North Korea, its status as the world’s worst violator of press freedom, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Is there any news here? Did Doc execute an editor, raid a newspaper office, toss a reporter in jail? Turkmenistan barely has a press, much less a free press. Nothing new has happened on this front since Joe Stalin ran the USSR. Well, OK, maybe Doc's security apparatus harassed some Radio Free Europe journalists in June, but that was nearly four months ago. Doc's the guy who let the Internet into Turkmenistan, the closest thing it's got to a free press and he's an improvement over Niazov. Doc's dramatic move toward democracy might be another step toward creating a free press, but instead of hailing him as a hero the story closes with a gratuitous knife in the back. Thanks again Times, by the way, you forgot to open that last paragraph with "Reclusive".

For a history of the NY Time's take on Doc Gurby, just search this blog for "Turkmenistan". The posts are best read in chronological order. What started as a tongue-in-cheek take on a tongue twister has evolved into genuine amazement at the Time's bias.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Payback's a ......political necessity

Issue Is Payback, Not Bailout - The linked column by David Leonhardt is focused and lucid - not always the hallmarks of the Time's business section. As Good As News always wants you to read, or at least skim, the articles linked at the beginning of each post, but this one is worth reading carefully. Now, here's another view on some of the points made by Mr. Leonhardt. [for a third view, more sophisticated than the one presented below but still readable see Daniel Alpert's mad as hell take on the same issues]

Even if the government spends a full $700 billion buying "toxic" mortgage backed securities, it will get something back when it sells the securities. True. These securities are bundles of mortgage loans. Some of these mortgage loans are not even in default, the homeowner is still making the full monthly payments. Even the defaulted mortgage loans are secured by homes which should, in theory, have a value greater than zero. In a market not driven by panic the value of the securities, the bundled mortgage loans, should reflect this value in the underlying mortgage loans and the homes that secure them. But, many of the underlying loans were made without a serious credit review. Many mortgaged properties are in neighborhoods where nothing is selling. Even if the bailout stops a financial crisis, it won't stop a recession or reverse the decline in real estate values. The government, or anyone else, who ends up dealing with individual mortgages and needs to maintain and sell properties obtained by foreclosure will have a prolonged and very expensive mess on their hands. Who wants to spend $70,000 on property taxes and maintenance over three years waiting for a property's value to bounce back to $60,000? Even if the property value bounces back all the way to $75,000 you still lose, because your recovery is all at the back end of a constant stream of expenses that start on day 1. The bundling and sale of the mortgage loans has also made foreclosure, and workouts to avoid foreclosure, more confusing and expensive than in the old days when a single local bank made the loan and held onto the mortgage. So the "panic" prices for toxic mortgage backed securities (panic being driven by lack of liquidity and fear of the impact of mark-to-market accounting) may actually be closer than we would like to the "rational" market prices we hope will emerge once a buyout plan is in place. In sum, don't get your hopes up too high, a lot of that $700 Billion will not be coming back as cash proceeds from toxic security resales by the government.

The government will likely need to buy toxic mortgage backed securities at prices greater than market value in order to save the financial system and it should get equity in the selling firm each time it does so. Yes and Yes, but watch out for a rough ride. Taking an ownership interest as part of each "rescue" purchase is the simplest and safest way to recover some of the tax money spent on this rescue mission. It will put the government into a messy, conflicted position - (it can let bank x fail and triple the value of its stock in bank y) and require some business smarts outside the government's normal skill set. Witness the pointless shenanigans of the leasing group within the Dept. of Interior, which mimicked all the worst elements of corporate excess without making any good deals. The problems are real, but taking some equity is the taxpayer's best hope. It's worth the risk.

Congress should not spend time right now on side issues like executive compensation. Narrow the focus to two issues - how much does the government spend and how can the taxpayer get pay back - to move a rescue plan through Congress ASAP and avert a disaster. Sounds good, but As Good As News is not sold. There is more than one kind of pay back involved here. The fastest way to get something through Congress is to recognize political reality and deal with it now, not spend weeks convincing Congress the crisis is so urgent they can't spend time on executive compensation. Any company that wants the government to buy its toxic securities should pay a price - limits on exec comp and clawbacks for any bonuses paid based on illusory income from selling toxic mortgage backed securities. The politics of the situation makes this a central issue, not a detail to look at later.

One final detail, which shouldn't stand in the way of a rescue. The American economy's recent growth has been driven by consumer spending, which apparently was driven by an ocean of bad mortgages and shaky credit card debt. One of the first ripples in the coming tidal wave of new (or in many cases, restored) regulation will be accountability for credit evaluation - no more mortgage loans to the unemployed based on a made to order property appraisal, no more applications begging ten year old children to sign up for credit cards. What happens to the economy, already on the brink of recession, once we pull the plug on the creation of bad consumer debt in order to preserve the financial system? Thanks to Reaganomics and the Iraq War the government deficit has reached the point where there's no room left for fiscal stimulus. The Fed is already holding interest rates steady in a crisis, it clearly sees little room for monetary stimulus. Can Americans, with help from a weak dollar, actually start making products that foreigners will want to buy again? Like an invalid's 99th birthday, saving the financial system beats the alternative, but Wall Street and Main Street may both be in for some serious belt tightening.

For an opinionated look at what might have been America's last chance to avoid some of this trainwreck see, Kevin Hassett's (no relation) story for Bloomberg on the Democrat's refusal to rein in Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac in 2005. This Hassett is actually a widely known and respected economist, currently Director of Economic Policy for the American Enterprise Institute formerly a teacher at Columbia B and Fed Reserve economist. That would be a real economist, as opposed to an unknown comic who didn't even stay at a Holiday Inn Express, but knows a little about derivatives and has a few friends in the financial world.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Lucky Ones

The Lucky Ones - Three wounded Iraq vets who meet on the plane home are stranded at Kennedy Airport by a power failure. Cheever (Tim Robbins) is a middle aged sergeant who has finished his hitch and can't wait to get back to the wife and life he had in St. Louis before his call-up intervened. Cheever decides to drive. His new buddies TK (Michael Pena) and Colee (Rachel McAdams), both headed for Vegas on 30 day injury leave before heading back to war, tag along to get to a functioning airport and a road trip ensues.
The road buddies establish their own family-like rapport as they deal with major personal problems and encounter civilian America in a trek that includes a tornado, an auto accident, faith healing, and a surprise sexual enounter. A more detailed plot summary runs quickly into the spoiler danger zone, as the film features a myriad of small twists, several driven by coincidence.
Pena handles the role of the know-it-all, hard case TK with just enough obnoxious edge and scared center. McAdams is believable and endearing as the very young and unsophisticated private Colee, whose fearless nosiness, good cheer and groundless optimism might be wisdom in disguise. TK is reluctant to talk about his groin injury, but Colee's going to get him help anyway - no matter how many people she needs to tell. Robbins as Cheever is probably the least convincing performance of the three, but he's more than good enough as a mature every-man hammered by a series of body blows just as he thought his life was about to go back to normal.

As Good As News enjoyed the film. For those who might not want to see an Iraq War movie - 1) there is only one, brief war scene, this is a USA road trip; 2) there are sad moments, but there are wacky developments and the atmosphere on the road is often light; 3) there is a significant component of humor. The film was getting some out-loud laughs from the symposium audience and it wasn't driven by slick Juno-esque banter but by the kind of things real people might say and a keen eye for the occasional absurd note in Americana.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Calling Dr. Couch

The Couch Doctor - When I decided to attend law school in NYC my college roommate and I signed a lease on a fifth floor walk-up near Columbia. We bought used furniture over the summer, then moved down from Boston in a rental truck. After a generally uneventful drive, interrupted only briefly by a discussion at knife point on 125th street in Harlem, we reached our destination. Moving into a fifth floor walk-up was no picnic, but the only serious problem was a green hide-a-bed sofa. This thing must have had a cast iron frame. It weighed at least 300 pounds and it was big enough so that every turn of the four flights of stairs was a challenge. When we finally got it up to our apartment, we discovered that it would not fit through the door. The "does not fit" call was not made lightly. Two very healthy MIT grads studied every angle, applied every ounce of force - and got nowhere.

Our solution? We had none. After a brief spasm of anger and a rest we lugged the couch down the stairs (again no picnic) and dumped it, like a homeless person seeking shelter, under an overpass we noticed on the way to the truck rental office.

Tonight I visited friends who had just moved from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side, to start grad school at Columbia, naturally. They had used professional movers who - after some consideration and measurement - had explained that there was no way one particularly large couch was ever going to fit into the new apartment. The solution? The short term solution was to leave the couch in the hall with a highly conciliatory note directed to landlord and new neighbors one and all.

The long term solution? Call the couch surgeon. The couch that won't fit through the door seems to be a recurring issue, and the movers made this intriguing recommendation as if it were completely routine. Of course the movers were looking for a way, any way, to escape an ugly situation involving a very disappointed customer and a very large couch abandoned in a narrow hallway. Mover's desperation notwithstanding, the couch surgeon is apparently a real phenomena, a specialist who will cut the iron and/or wood frame of the couch. Chainsaw is optional - but don't cut the upholstery or springs, they will bend around the corner once you cut the stiff parts of the frame. With its frame rendered limp at the crucial midpoint, the oversize couch can handle a bend. Once the move is complete, the frame is bolted back together.

For those with a nice couch (unlike our old green monster) the couch surgeon is well worth the investment, but never forget the basics - always avoid unnecessary surgery. You never know what might happen with good lubrication and some intensive, professionally directed pushing. So before you call the couch surgeon, try the couch obstetrician

To Be Or...- Let's Go With Not

To Be Or Not To Be -This Manhattan Theater Club selection is in previews now at the Friedman Theatre. As Good As News would like to say it's a "sophisticated black comedy set in wartime Poland". Unfortunately that was the 1942 movie version, an Ernst Lubitsch classic starring Carole Lombard and Jack Benny. "Lots of Laughs"? Sorry again, that was the 1983 remake with Anne Bancroft and Mel Brooks. The 2008 stage version never gets off the ground as the heroic efforts of a Polish theater troop to resist the Nazi invasion, because actors can do anything, needs an update with some attitude.

As a comedy, the show is stiff and dated. David Rasche as Josef, a leading light of the Polish stage, seems to be heading on a camping trip at times, but the rest of the cast doesn't want to come along. Is he really mocking his own character, or is that just an earnest effort to do a good job playing a bad actor? If Mel Brooks staged a remake this script would be punched up with a few dozen more screwball lines and pumped up with a lot more physical comedy. A consistently camp approach with some snarky asides might also work (lots of people liked the self-referential The Thirty-Nine Steps, although I was not among them). Either way, the show needs something. The audience wasn't laughing and the material did not create the kind of emotional involvement needed to work as a drama while the comedy was falling flat.

The use of newsreel like footage projected onto the theater curtain as a transitional device was highly effective, fast forwarding painlessly then meshing almost perfectly into the next scene on the stage. The projection design and the bones of the plot (which, after all, were strong enough to support two successful movies) could have led to something more, but this show is still screaming "get me rewrite" and the deadline is at hand.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Amexicano Opens In Manhattan

Amexicano, a film reviewed here nearly a year ago, opened yesterday in NYC. Inspired by a spate of immigration related films As Good As News issued a call to look for common ground on immigration reform - apparently no one was listening.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Second Thoughts on Second Spots

Joe Biden muses on Hillary's superior qualifications as Vice President. Yes, Joe, you were actually talking out loud, not just thinking that to yourself. Your feminist, humility makes you seem like a gracious, thoughtful candidate - not. Obama has to be thinking - "Thanks Joe. You tried to make yourself look good and now I look like an idiot for choosing you, just as McCain is getting a surge in the polls for picking that goofball Palin - how can this be happening to me?" As Good As News has to hand it to you though, Joe. Thanks to your complete inability to contain a single thought in your head for even a millisecond before it comes gushing out from between your lips you were right - Hillary would have been better.

Sarah Palin is the ultimate Rove girl, an attractive but inexperienced fundamentalist Christian candidate who repels liberals like mace and energizes the religious right. Foxhole Productions is already shooting the GOP commercial for late October, the one where Sarah turns to the camera and asks:

"Senator Obama, does everyone from Harvard have a problem with Americans like me, Americans from small towns, Americans who own guns and believe in the Second Amendment, Americans who cling to religion because we believe in God? Does everyone from Harvard think that way, or is it just you Senator Obama?"

McCain's choice of Palin was not really a maverick maneuver, just a return to the Rove playbook - Get out the base and campaign on social issues that have little to do with being President. It worked twice for W. Can it wiin again? Hmmm, let's think: 1) a non-stiff as Democratic nominee; 2)no third party candidate like Ralph Nader to siphon off Democratic votes; 3) a sluggish economy with a financial system in crisis, 4) a war or two with continuing casualties and a best case ending that will create two coalition/quasi democracies that will turn into clan war anarchy or America-hating Islamic republics within months after we leave; 5) a race run in the shadow of a Republican incumbent with historically low favorable ratings. This campaign may be too tough, even for Karl Rove.

Once the initial excitement settles down, people who aren't liberals or fundamentalists will wonder whether they really want a junior high mean girl a heartbeat away from the Presidency. McCain, sometimes a real maverick and always a guy with a sense of humor, will have his own second thoughts after a few months of running with Sarah - "I can't stand being in the same room with this cocky loony, no matter how much lipstick I put on her, why didn't I just pick Tina Fey as VP?"

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hats off to Captain Abu Raed

Captain Abu Raed - A brilliant performance by Nadim Sawalha in the title role anchors a moving debut from Director/Writer/Producer Amin Matalqua. Captain Abu Raed is a lonely airport janitor who lives in a world of books and imaginary travel. Raed claims a discarded pilot's cap from the airport trash and is suddenly thrust into a relationship with the children of his working class neighborhood in East Amman, Jordan. The kids assume he's a real pilot and demand to hear stories of his travels. Raed obliges, and his fiction is a hit. Suddenly the loner is the neighborhood grandfather, trying to keep young Tareq in school when his father puts him to work as a street vendor. Another boy, the angry Murad, calls Raed a liar, since no pilot could come from their neighborhood. Raed accepts his insults with grace, knowing that Murad and his family are victims of violent abuse from their father.

At the airport, Raed is befriended by Nour, a glamorous pilot in her thirties. Nour is happy to find one literate friend who isn't lecturing her about turning into a spinster or fixing her up with social basket cases. Raed is thrilled, but a little overwhelmed, as the new friendships with the children and Nour open up memories of his late wife and child and a life lost to grief and guilt over the infant's accidental death.

Murad leads some of the boys on an expedition to the airport, exposing Raed as a janitor. Raed reacts with more kindness, giving Murad the pilot's cap, and continues to worry about the neighborhood children, even when they no longer listen to his stories. The focus shifts from Tareq to Murad as the father's violence escalates and Raed's efforts to save Murad and his family from disaster become bolder.

Amin Matalqua starts his feature film career with a bang. Captain Abu Raeb works effectively with limited dialog. Visual elements - the jaunty pilot cap, the long flights of steps leading to Raed's lonely lair, his collection of books and souvenirs, the place set for his dead wife and the memorial on her pillow next to the sleeping Raed, the forbidding door to Murad's home, a hand flexed into a rising aerofoil - connect the viewer so firmly to the development of plot and character that the subtitles seem almost superfluous. Amman offers a fresh background, rich in color and texture. Matalqua made a host of good decisions in bringing this story to the screen, but one casting choice stands out: Nadim Sawalha was unforgettable as Captain Abu Raed. Sawalha was in almost every scene, working mostly with untrained child actors. The role was complex and absolutely pivotal to the film's success. Sawalha knocked it out of the park, and he did it with his eyes, shoulders, hands and, once in a while, even some dialog. Mr. Sawalha will look familiar from a hundred small roles, but after this film you will remember his name.

Captain Abu Raed has a few problems. All three subplots revolve around leisurely character development that becomes a little too slow. When Matalqua finally does bring on the action, it seems jarring and forced. The ending was true enough to Raed's character to survive this pacing disconnect and on balance As Good As News agrees with Sundance, where Captain Abu Raed won the Audience Award. See this film, watch for future efforts from Mr. Matalqua and hope that Mr. Sawalha gets many more major roles.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Best of Times - A Tale of Two Cities

Charles Dickens, a man who was obviously paid by the word, may have inspired the development of Cliff Notes, but he knew how to spin a plot. A Tale of Two Cities, a Broadway musical that will open this Thursday night, captures the heart of the story and the audience with an exceptionally strong performance by James Barbour as Sydney Carton, drunken lawyer turned romantic hero. Barbour's terrific voice is no surprise, but that's only the beginning. He makes the character's unlikely moral u-turn credible and handles a handful of critical comedic lines with perfect timing and tone - self-loathingly straight, with a dash of boozy irony.

The show is not perfect. Your attention may drift as you enter the stretch run in a long first act. The abstract tree overhanging the outdoor scenes may start to look more and more like a mutant spinach leaf. Hang in there. Enjoy the hulking presence of Craig Bennett as Cruncher, grave robber and loyal body guard. Savor the bitter fury of Natalie Toro as Madame Defarge, keeping score and demanding vengeance from the barricades. Fear not citizen, the second act will reel you in and send you home with that Broadway feeling.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The "Disrespectful" Trilogy

A Sharp Attack on Obama - The NY Times harshly criticizes the McCain campaign ad Disrespectful- The phrase "pack of racially charged lies" comes to mind in the effort by As Good As News to summarizes the Time's view. Other print and broadcast outlets have taken a similar position. An official from Foxhole Productions, producer of Disrespectful, spoke on condition that his identity be withheld:
"Not accurate, not fair, barely coded racism - blah, blah, blah - read some of the ads from the Adams v. Jefferson campaign if you want to see what American politics is all about. The more the media whines the more they run our ad, for free. If they keep squawking maybe we can pick up another five points in the polls. If you think Disrespectful is a hot issue, wait until you see our two follow-up spots.

Audacious is already in the can. It's a hard look at Obama's secret past as youthful Muslim terror gang member, high school drug addict and Black Panther sympathizer. Don't you just love the way we co opted the title from his own bio?

The third spot is a lulu. Three days before the election, when Obama has no time to respond effectively, we come out with the clincher. We're still shooting, but the story line is set. We trace Obama's long history of affairs with white women, from junior high right up to today. We already have three hotties on tape claiming Obama fathered their children. You should see these babes, the ad will go viral faster than Obama Girl even without any media help. One of them was a little confused, seemed to think Obama looked exactly like Jesse Jackson, but hey, that's why they invented editing. I'm getting a little flack from the campaign staff, but I think we'll be using my working title when we go public with the spot in November, watch for Uppity."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dear John - Enough with the tutoring - Sarah

Dear John,

I know that "thank you notes" are nearing extinction, but that is not the way I was raised. So, thank you again for selecting me as your running mate.

I will do my best for you and I promise I can add a lot to our campaign and administration. I know I can do better than Dick Cheney. No way am I going to shoot my own friend while hunting. I've been shooting since I was a little girl and that is one mistake I will never make. Now maybe if I happened to come up behind my ex-brother in law unexpectedly...sorry, John, I was getting a little off message there.

I also want to thank you for all the help I'm getting from your people, learning about the economy, foreign affairs, constitutional rights. It's really pretty demanding. I mean Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae were private companies that added liquidity to the mortgage market without spending government money - until their unsupervised mismanagement throughout the Bush administration led them to package so many bad loans they were about to go belly-up, crippling the real estate and financial markets. Who knew. It's almost as confusing as that Shiite - Sunni stuff, oops - didn't mean to bring that up.

John, even though I really appreciate all the time your people are spending on me, I'm getting kind of tired of all this. I'm all about leadership, not issues. A good leader can make decisions instinctively and then get things done. When I saw Daddy's Rommate, Catcher in the Rye and Ulysses in the Wasilla library I didn't need a big fat resume or a panel of experts to tell me there was a problem, I just knew. When that old bat librarian had the nerve to suggest I read the books before banning them and then started to babble about classics and censorship and maybe setting up an adults only section, I knew just how to handle her. "Get with the program or step off honey", that's what I told her, "I know what's best for Wasilla and I don't need any more haters getting in my way. I've got plenty of friends at church who know smut when they see it and they could do a damn sight better job than you". Sorry John, started to slip off message again there.

But John, really, can't I please stop this seminar from hell now. I'm more ready for that silly interview with Charlie Gibson than I was for the finals of the Miss Alaska Pageant. I'll have him wrapped around my little finger in five minutes flat, just like when I met you - oops - but you get the point. I can handle myself around old guys without any more help from these annoying eggheads. This cram session is turning into the kind of nightmare scenario we should be using in Gitmo. Sorry again John - I know you don't believe in torture, but really, how else can you deal with those Moslems, I mean Arabs, I mean terrorists. Really, your people are making things way too complicated. It's time to put me on TV and let me show America what I'm all about. When I'm President, I mean Vice President, I'm sure I'll look back on all this and laugh, but if that twit expert on Latin America asks me one more question on the difference between Caesar Chavez and Hugo Chavez, I'm going to gut him like a rabid moose. That guy is really getting on my nerves. He looks like he should have been the model for the roommate in Daddy Has a Freaking Roomate.

Anyway, keep the faith, can't wait to see you again. No more lectures needed. Just call your people and tell them I'm ready and I'll show up at the Charlie Gibson interview loaded for bear. I just need to make a quick stop at home to make sure my future son in law isn't taking this "hockey hunk" publicity too seriously. Already made one mistake, got to watch that boy very carefully.



Monday, September 8, 2008

Prime Minister Obama? Oh No Canada

Prime Minister Chances Early Election in Canada - The cagey Canucks have already shipped their constantly pooping Canada Geese to New Jersey and cornered the market on all the really valuable real estate in post-global warming North America. Will they steal Barak Obama? As Goood As News says it's no accident that the pols are suddenly talking about hockey moms instead of soccer moms.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, no relation to Valerie, sees the popularity of his conservative party fading fast. The conservative's normal strategy would be to hold an election while still in the majority. The Liberal leader is a French speaking political science professor who sounds like he's giving a lecture when he orders coffee with cream. So what's the problem? It takes a little reading between the lines, but PM Harper is worried that a no-charisma showdown with liberal Stephane Dion (rumors that he is one of the quintuplets could not be substantiated by today's publication deadline) will produce a shocking result - the majority of Canadians are prepared to vote Democratic and name Barak Obama as PM. The astute Canadians don't want any part of the US, but they're willing to make dual citizenship work for Obama in order to get some change.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Chicago 10

A documentary on the Chicago 7 (7 plus severed defendant Bobby Seals plus Bill Kunstler and another lawyer who drew prison sentences for contempt = 10). Most interesting are animated scenes created using the trial transcript, but live footage from the environs of the 1968 Democratic Convention was also used effectively. Captures 1) the dementia of Judge Julius Hoffman, 2) the media savvy, humor and ego of Abby Hoffman - in retrospect his cause seemed to be, well - pretty much Abby Hoffman, 3) the earnest David Dellinger who was willing to accept a violent confrontation in which many students would be hurt - so long as the police started it; and 4) the constantly enraged Mayor Daley - who was only too happy to oblige Dellinger. Watch for it on PBS.

unReds - separated at .....

From the Cuban Underground, a Punk Rocker's Protest Reverberates - No, unReds is not about books gathering dust. Cuban punk rocker Gorki and his band are brazenly (and, punklike, profanely) anti-Castro despite the separated at birth relationship to Reds director and star Warren Beatty.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Foe Unchained

Finally - Mr. Foe is released and reviewed in the NY Times. Jaime Bell played a troubled adolescent, at this point he's ready to take on the role of aging superhero. Here's the As Good As News review from May 5.
Speaking of foes, Sen. McCain would like to be the heir to Barry Goldwater, but he keeps getting tangled up in the religious right. Would-be VP Palin has the Goldwater image, a rugged outdoorswoman from the frontier, but her view of good government includes censoring the local library and teaching creationism in public school, not exactly Goldwateresque. So, is McCain his own worst Foe?

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Political Corpse? - GOP Says Thanks for Perfect Storm

Russia's President Dismisses Georgia Leader as "Political Corpse" - This headline will no doubt shock all As Good As News Readers, just as it shocked me. First, naturally, I was confused to find that Jimmy Carter was still alive and some Russian named Medvedev, a retired tennis player I think, was very mad at him. Then I realized it must be just a small mistake on Medvedev's part. Texas, Georgia - to a Russian they must seem pretty much the same. The only political corpse around here seems to be The Decider. The Republican party cheered warmly for Gustav as W came on the screen. Gustav was in fact the perfect storm. It rained just hard enough to give W a plausible excuse to stay away - allowing McCain to minimize his exposure to W's radioactive fallout. In the United States, Gustav was just mild enough to avoid massive, widespread death and destruction and trigger grim memories of Katrina.

In the same article, note Putin's announcement about a new natural gas pipeline from the central Asian republics to Russia. Despite the minor confusion over US geography, the Russians are doing a great job of controlling natural gas from most of the stans, with pipeline deals that bring the gas to Russia, not the EU, India or China. Unlike it's neighbors, Turkmenistan's gas is not all Russia bound for the long term. By working on pipeline deals with India and China, two of the worlds largest, fastest growing economies, Doc Gurby is only going to get a better deal for his country. This former dentist is crazy like a fox.