Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Small and Obscure Point About Something No One is Talking or Thinking About Any More

Is it possible the Joe the Plumber thing, and specifically the video of Joe speaking with then Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, actually helped Obama to win the presidency?

I was thinking about this while watching David Brooks on last night's NewsHour. Brooks was talking about Obama's interview with Lehrer following Obama's S. Carolina announcement of a new troop drawdown in Iraq.

Brooks was talking about how Obama comes off, "as usual," as someone who takes his responsibilities seriously, someone you can have confidence in. It reminded me of how, at its heart, the full YouTube video of the Joe the Plumber encounter is an eloquent defense of Obama's tax plan made by Obama itself.

McCain was basically directing both voters who favored him and those who favored Obama towards a 6-minute video of Obama standing off stage and talking patiently, eloquently and frankly with a voter who obviously disagreed with him.

Lesson (for politicians): always be prepared to behave as if you are on camera in front of the entire nation because these days, you always are.

Lesson (for opposing politicians): if you're going to try to call your opponent out on something he said, try to make it a moment when he doesn't look so goddamn presidential.

Lesson (for the media): now you've got a new angle for the next time Joe Wurzelbacher makes the news.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

State of the Union-ish

Know how they say in Summer camp the days are long but the weeks are short? Well, like a pre-teen with an accelerated activity schedule, Obama has chosen to live life faster than the rest of us.

Case in point: Obama decided to move what looked a whole lot like his first state of the union address to tonight.

It's kinda a genius move. A president is always most effective in his first year in office (first two years if you're lucky). Besides, he's got friendly majorities in the House and Senate now; who knows how it will look in two years. He's already done in a month what most presidents would do in a year. Why not cram what should by all rights be four years of governing in to the next twelve months?

One thing he won't be doing is wasting time. Obama is helped here by so far having only problems that are so big and awful that they've been pounding us since before the end of the campaign. That means that a lot of the things he said tonight sounded like familiar promises from his campaign.

Unlike, say, the Clinton administration, which was very much a reactionary administration, and the Bush administration, which lead the federal government where it wanted to go despite what the actual problems were that the country needed to address, Obama here is both actively pushing forward on his agenda and addressing problems that the nation needs to deal with.

Someone on CNN is punditing now: "Look, if he's able to achieve even half of what he said, a lot of folks will pleased."

Yes, Obama is ambitious. Yes he's confident. We knew that when we hired him. So what we've got now is a smart, focused, ambitious guy who learns wicked fast and is pointing this country in exactly the direction it needs to go, just like he's always said he would.

It's perhaps a sign of how bad things have gotten, how challenging the obstacles that Obama will have to deal with, that my main thought is "let's wait and see how he'll do." We should be a lot more excited than this. But, for now, Obama is everything we could hope for.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Memo to Department Heads

Do to a change in technological circumstance and the diligent work of volunteers, I am now not only watching television in HD but also sitting much closer to my TV.

Quick heads up for HD TV show makeup departments: we can see the makeup now. You'd better either dial it down, or starts putting your guys on some sort of Kino-Flo-type innovation that accomplishes your all-important smoothing and blemish concealment without making it look like there's someone standing just behind the camera with a tray of powder and a pad.

Disinhibition Porn

Finally, a new way to waste time on the internet.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present: reviews of personal lubricants on

Sample quote: "Feels ok once you get past the burning sensation."

PS: One more post about new ways to waste time on the internet, and I've got a series.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How You Can Make $200 From the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

Yesterday, President Obama signed in to law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the full text of which you can read here.

It is very long.

Now, I want my piece of the government's money same as anyone. However, I just bought some new novels, and my docket is a bit full at the moment. Plus, 900 page resolutions are just not suitable subway reading.

Here's what I propose: first person out there to read H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - the whole thing - and tell me how I, Richard, can make money off it: $200 dollar reward.

Bam! Two hundred smackers, in cash, right there in an envelope of your choice delivered to an address of your choosing. It's my little investment in our future.

Now, I am no stickler for protocol, but let me make clear on some ground rules. First, although you must read the whole bill, skimming is allowed. It's also ok if you've read H.R. 1 for some other enterprise (like you work in a senator's office) as long as it is the final version of the bill that you've read and not some previous incarnation.

However, for my $200 I am expecting some advice that is tailored to me. We'll talk it over as I verify that you've read the whole bill, but if you want a little guidance as you work your way through this thing, you should know these money making-relevant things about me:

First, I am not above starting my own business although I'm a bit lazy about running one. I would not be putting a world-changing amount of money in to this theoretical enterprise, but I do have what people refer to as "life savings."

Finally, I have only the mildest form of business training and only a few marketable skills (making movies, writing unreadably long essays about pop culture minutiae, etc.), none of which would qualify me to, say, build a new national power grid. However, you can assume that I am a clever and able-bodied American in the classic tradition.

Please leave your submissions in the comments section of this post. First to read the bill and sell me on how it can make me money is the winner!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Notice to the Daily Show Re: Michael Steele


I have just finished watching newly elected RNC Chairman Michael Steele's first This Week interview, and I am ready to say that it is time to stop making fun of Michael Steele for being a black Republican and time to start making fun of him for some of the stupid shit he has said.

Steele spent several excruciating minutes explaining why creating "work" had nothing to do with creating "jobs." The distinction being that "work" created by the government only lasted until the end of a contract, whereas "jobs" created by small businesses, like the millions lost so far: "When they go - they've gone away before, and they come back."

If that makes sense to you, you are either thinking too hard or not hard enough.

Steele then went on to slam Pell grant allocations as having no effect on the job you lose today. When George Stephanopoulos asked him if he Steele would agree that a school construction component of the bill would create jobs, Steele said Sure, short term construction jobs, if that's all you're after.

If he's interested in creating a stronger economy in the long term, why not help train the American work force to create them? And if he's interested in short-term jobs, why not let small businesses have a few government contracts until banks start lending again?

It's funny that America's historically most racist major party elected a black man their chair [at 1:36] two weeks after the Obama took office, but, trust me - listen to this Steele guy. What he's saying is a lot funnier than the color of his skin.