12.29 Cara and Ginny and I went to Maryland and visited Mom and Rose.
12.21 Excellent win by the Giants. After two losses, they came from behind against the always tough Panthers, and won in overtime 34-28, behind the rushing of Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs. Now the Giants have home field advantage throughout the playoffs.
12/19 Big snow. Wendell Jamieson in the Times: “It’s a Wonderful Life” is a terrifying, asphyxiating story about growing up and relinquishing your dreams, of seeing your father driven to the grave before his time, of living among bitter, small-minded people. It is a story of being trapped, of compromising, of watching others move ahead and away, of becoming so filled with rage that you verbally abuse your children, their teacher and your oppressively perfect wife. It is also a nightmare account of an endless home renovation.”
11.29 Suketu Mehta in the Times: `In the Bombay I grew up in, your religion was a personal eccentricity, like a hairstyle. In my school, you were denominated by which cricketeer or Bollywood star you worshiped, not which prophet. In today’s Mumbai, things have changed. Hindu and Muslim demagogues want the mobs to come out again in the streets, and slaughter one another in the name of God.”
11.26 Terrorist attack on Mumbai. 195 dead. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times: “The celebrity culture is infantilizing us. We are being trained not to think. It is not about the disappearance of film critics. We are the canaries. It is about the death of an intelligent and curious, readership, interested in significant things and able to think critically. It is about the failure of our educational system. It is not about dumbing-down. It is about snuffing out. The news is still big. It’s the newspapers that got small.”
11.23 Thomas L. Friedman in the Times: “As one banker remarked to me: `We finally found the W.M.D.’ They were buried in our own backyard–subprime mortgages and all the derivatives attached to them.’ ” Ben Stein in the Times: “The nation faces a real peril: we could reach a state of long-term equilibrium–as economists say–well below full employment. This condition has been thought by classical economists to be impossible to reach. But the Depression taught us that if therer is enough fear in the economy, lenders will not lend and economic activity will continue indefinitely at a level consistent with serious recesssion or even depression.”
11.18 Mike Barnicle hilariously compares Newt Gingrich to a the firebug who hangs around a burned out building on Morning Joe. David Brooks in the Timestoday on the new “formerly middle class”: “Millions of people face the psychological and social pressures of downward mobility.”
11.16 Impressive win by the Giants over the Ravens. The Steelers and the Chargers make history with the NFL’s first 11-10 final.
11.13 Media tour on a soggy day: Michael Hainey of GQ, Bob Love of Best Life, and Jon Kelly of VF.
11.7 Thomas Friedman in the Times, quoting Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment: “If you’re a hardliner in Tehran, a U.S. president who wants to talk to you presents more of a quandary than a U.S. president who wants to confront you. How are you going to implore crowds to chant `Death to Barack Hussein Obama?”’
11.6 Molly goes haywire.
11.5 New White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel: “You don’t ever want a crisis to go to waste; it’s an opportunity to do important things that you would otherwise avoid.”
11.4 Barack Obama is elected president of the United States. taking 52.6% of the vote to McCain’s 46.1, and winning the Electoral College by 365 to 162.
10.30 Rick Klein and Hope Ditto of ABC News’s The Note on last night’s Obamainfomercial: “Five days out, Obama has wrested control of the race with his typical disciplined style — and someone’s going to have to scramble to take it from him. Consider his extraordinary Wednesday evening . . . Cognizant of what got him here, and mindful of what might get him there, Obama highlighted not just himself but the idea he represents. It delivers a message on a tactical level, with solutions for all the hot-button issues, yet mostly it works on an inspirational level — getting voters to believe in something bigger than themselves. . . .By the [end of the evening], this looked like Obama’s race, with McCain and the rest of us just living in it.” George Willin the Washington Post: Palin may be an inveterate simplifier; McCain has a history of reducing controversies to cartoons. A Republican financial expert recalls attending a dinner with McCain for the purpose of discussing with him domestic and international financial complexities that clearly did not fascinate the senator. As the dinner ended, McCain’s question for his briefer was: “So, who is the villain?” DavidIgnatius in the Post: “The hedge fund industry coined a term several years ago for the idea that special people (i.e., hedge fund managers) could achieve above-average returns without taking commensurate risk. They called this investment nirvana “alpha,” to distinguish it from the “beta” of average market returns available to ordinary investors who tracked, say, the S&P 500. It was the ultimate elitist investment philosophy. The premise was that alpha managers were more clever than other people and could therefore outperform the market. They could do the things that normal investors were cautioned against — time the markets’ ups and downs, engage in speculative short selling, borrow heavily to increase their returns. These smarter-than-average managers offered their services to richer-than-average investors who could afford the hedge funds’ hefty fees. . . .As the bubble economy expanded, the alpha managers became ever more confident of their ability to defy the fundamentals of the beta marketplace. They began speaking of “portable alpha,” which purported to remove market risk entirely from a portfolio by using futures, swaps, options and short selling. They were claiming, in effect, to have discovered the equivalent of a gravity-free world, an eternal banquet of free lunches. . . .That make-believe world began to crash in August 2007. Suddenly, there was no market for the paper assets that had been created out of pools of mortgages. . . .And then the panic: That has been the most unattractive part of this story. The greed side of the alpha world was bad enough, with its $100 million homes and private art galleries. But the fear side has been more destructive. What’s driving the severe financial downturn now is the quest for “alpha security” among the richest and most powerful. Having made their loot, the very rich are desperate to protect it. So “smart money” has been sitting on its cash — shunning any institution that might be contaminated, even a mighty Lehman Brothers — and refusing to lend for longer than 24 hours. . . . People in the financial world tell me about friends who bought safes in which to store their cash at home; about withdrawals of millions of dollars in currency to prepare for the ultimate meltdown. The alpha spirit came back as hoarding, but with the same premise: I’m special. The rest of the world be damned.” Realclearpolitics.com: Obama 50.0 McCain43.7. Electoral votes: Obama: 311 McCain 142 No leaning: Obama 364 McCain 174
10.29 Met with Joe Cilibrasi and his partner Susan today. The Phillies win the World Series. I don’t think Joe Madden did a particularly good job in part 2 of the suspended game 5. He should have started David Price and let the kid go as far as he could. Instead, Madden got all National Leaguey and saved Price for when he wouldn’t quickly have to hit. As it happened, the lesser relievers gave up hits and two runs, and one of them had to bat in a sacrifice situation. Madden went with less than his best in a must-win situation, and lost. Molly gets a job at Macy’s–a relief. Ginny confesses to feelings of free-floating anxiety. I am sorry for that.
10.28 Excellent David Brooks column today on cognitive psychology.
10.27 Met with the True Slant guys today. I think I’ll play. Lunch with Chris Raymond of Details at Osteria Laguna on East 42nd Street. In the Times, William Kristol, advising McCain, quotes Ferdinand Foch at the First Battle of the Marne: “My center is giving way. My right is in retreat. Situation excellent. I attack.” Paul Krugman, looking at the economy, quotes William Butler Yeats: “Turning and turning in the widening gyre/ The falcon cannot hear the falconer;/ Things fall apart/ The center cannot hold.” Sad to say that so often Krugman is the more clear-eyed analyst.
10.26 Giants beat Steelers 21-14, a big win in a rough, hard-fought game that conjured up memories of the Steel Curtain and Parcells-era Giants. Mad Men signs off for the season with a tense episode set against the Cuban Missile Crisis. Meta-anxiety appropriate for the times.
10.24 Busy week. Worked on articles for PB and USAW, got hired by LBF, sold ideas to Westchester and VF, and make a meeting with Cilibrasi for Wednesday.
10.22 Pollster John Zogby: “Three big days for Obama. Anything can happen, but time is running short for McCain. These numbers, if they hold, are blowout numbers. They fit the 1980 model with Reagan’s victory over Carter — but they are happening 12 days before Reagan blasted ahead. If Obama wins like this we can be talking not only victory but realignment: he leads by 27 points among Independents, 27 points among those who have already voted, 16 among newly registered voters, 31 among Hispanics, 93%-2% among African Americans, 16 among women, 27 among those 18-29, 5 among 30-49 year olds, 8 among 50-64s, 4 among those over 65, 25 among Moderates, and 12 among Catholics (which is better than Bill Clinton’s 10-point victory among Catholics in 1996). He leads with men by 2 points, and is down among whites by only 6 points, down 2 in armed forces households, 3 among investors, and is tied among NASCAR fans.”
10.15 Christopher Hitchens in Slate: “On “the issues” in these closing weeks, there really isn’t a very sharp or highly noticeable distinction to be made between the two nominees, and their “debates” have been cramped and boring affairs as a result. But the difference in character and temperament has become plainer by the day, and there is no decent way of avoiding the fact. Last week’s so-called town-hall event showedSen. John McCain to be someone suffering from an increasingly obvious and embarrassing deficit, both cognitive and physical. And the only public events that have so far featured his absurd choice of running mate have shown her to be a deceiving and unscrupulous woman utterly unversed in any of the needful political discourses but easily trained to utter preposterous lies and to appeal to the basest element of her audience.” Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post: “In 1949, a number of famous writers, among them Arthur Koestler, André Gide, Richard Wright, Stephen Spender and Ignazio Silone, wrote essays explaining why they were no longer communists. The essays were collected in a volume entitled “The God That Failed.” Today, conservative intellectuals might want to consider writing a tome on the failure of their own beloved deity, unregulated capitalism. The fall of the financial system has been so fast and far-reaching that there’s been no time to fully consider its implications for the reigning economic theology of the past 30 years. But with the most right-wing administration in modern American history scurrying to nationalize the banks, the question cannot be elided indefinitely. What exactly do economic conservatives believe now that their god is dead? What’s become of the glories of privatized Social Security? Of the merits of 401(k)s vs. defined-benefit pensions?” RealClearPolitics:Obama 50.0 McCain 42.3Electoral College: Obama 286 McCain 158. No Toss-Up: Obama 364 McCain 174
10.14 Steve Pearlstein in The Washington Post: “After yesterday’s “historic” meeting, we are told by industry apologists that we are supposed to be grateful to nine leading banks for having “volunteered” to accept additional capital from the Treasury. . . . Pardon me if I’m less than blown over by this munificent offer. . . .We’ve seen quite a bit of [leadership] these past few weeks from public officials like Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, Sheila Bair, Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, John Boehner — even George Bush. Wall Street, by contrast, has served up a nothing sandwich.” Good episode of House, about his father;s funeral and his patch-up with Wilson.
10.13 900+ point rally by the Dow.
10.12 Peekskill Rotary Horse Show
10.11 To Maryland to see Mom and Rose.
10.10 Terrific breakfast with Lawrence O’Donnell. Ginny and I had dinner at Taverna and saw The Atheist, starring Campbell Scott. He was impressive.
10.10 Ed Rollins on Anderson Cooper: “It’s over. The question is [for McCain is], How do you want to end your career?” Rollins foresees a landslide, loss of 10 Senate seats.
10.10 RealClearPolitics: Horse Race:Obama 49.5 McCain 43.3; Electoral Count:Obama 277 McCain 158; No Toss-Ups: Obama 353 McCain 185 Anthony Faiola in The Washington Post: “The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression is claiming another casualty: American-style capitalism. . . .The notion of government ownership in the financial sector, even as a minority stakeholder, goes against what market purists say they see as the foundation of the American system.Yet the administration may feel it has no choice. . . .”People around the world once admired us for our economy, and we told them if you wanted to be like us, here’s what you have to do — hand over power to the market,” said Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize-winning economist. “The point now is that no one has respect for that kind of model anymore given this crisis. And of course it raises questions about our credibility. Everyone feels they are suffering now because of us.”’
10.9 Quin Hillyer in The American Spectator: “[S]ometimes the most pressing issue isn’t the best issue to press — because it’s not the one where your candidate can draw the best distinction with the opponent. That’s the situationJohn McCain finds himself in today. Yes, in Carvillian language, today’s biggest issue is indeed “the economy, stupid.” But John McCain talks about the economy no more convincingly than a hippopotamus dances ballet. . . .[T]he McCain campaign needs to find a way to undermine Obama’s current polling edge on the economy, but the only thing “stupid” would be an attempt at a head-on assault from McCain’s position of weakness on the issue. . . .The way to undermine Obama’s apparent (if unearned) credibility on the economy is to undermine his credibility, period. Make Obama’s worldview in general anathema, and you make his economic worldview anathema. And the way to do that is to place Obama outside the common culture.” RealClearPolitics: Obama 49.1 McCain 43.5 Electoral College Projection: Obama 277McCain 163Toss Up 98
10.8 203.9 Jack Welch says on Squawk Box to expect three quarters of hard times. This jibes with Jim Cramer’s prediciton that the housing market will bottom out in June ‘09.
10.6 On The Today Show, Jim Cramer says if you’re going to need your money in the next five years, don’t leave it in the market. He thinks he market might lose 20 percent of its value. The Dow dropped 400 points or so today.
10.5 Maureen Dowd gets in a good quote from Alistair Cooke (“Americans seem to be more comfortable with Republican presidents because they share the common frailty of muddled syntax and because, when they attempt eloquence, they do tend to spout a kind of Frontier Baroque”), but cites Sarah Palin’s most telling line from the debate: “Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be-all, end-all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet.”
10.4 Too bad that the Cubs were eliminated, but can you believe Joe Torre is back in the NLCS? I can .
10.2 Martin Wolf in The Financial Times: “The aggregate stock of US debt rose from a mere 163 per cent of gross domestic product in 1980 to 346 per cent in 2007. Just two sectors of the economy were responsible for this massive rise in leverage: households, whose indebtedness jumped from 50 per cent of GDP in 1980 to 71 per cent in 2000 and 100 per cent in 2007; and the financial sector, whose indebtedness jumped from just 21 per cent of GDP in 1980 to 83 per cent in 2000 and 116 per cent in 2007. The balance sheets of the financial sector exploded, as did the sector’s notional profitability. But leverage, alas, works both ways. Since US net international debt was 39 per cent of GDP at the end of 2007, virtually all of this debt is an asset of another domestic entity and would net out to zero. But when the gross debt stock is huge and economic conditions difficult, the chances that many entities are bankrupt is high. When people fear mass insolvency, lenders stop lending and the indebted stop spending. The result can be the “debt deflation”, described by the American economist, Irving Fisher, in 1933 and experienced by Japan in the 1990s.”
10.1 Libby Copeland in the Post on Sarah Palin: “There’s a youthfulness and an enthusiasm there — Palin is all emoticons; Rachel Ray as candidate for higher office. . . .She speaks with supreme confidence (Ya can’t blink, Charlie) . . . . [and] expresses excitement through encouraging nods as well as what Karen Bradley — a University of Maryland dance professor who studies body movement — calls this “little shoulder wiggle.” And watch that nose wiggle — which Parvin, the Republican speechwriter, says sometimes conveys “a cute determination” and sometimes “a cute distastefulness.” And sometimes, it operates as a sort of “exclamation point,” conveying agreement, he says. He calls her Gidget Goes to Washington. “She is playing into a cultural stereotype,” says Drew Westen, a psychiatry professor at Emory University who also works as a Democratic consultant and wrote The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation. And the stereotype? Westen cites Marlo Thomas in That Girl,” Mary Tyler Moore in the The Dick Van Dyke Show, Sally Field in The Flying Nun– a model of perky femininity that “was really salient in the early ’60s before the sexual revolution and the cultural revolution took hold.” These physical and rhetorical habits set Palin in relief to Hillary Clinton, who projected great strength but much less of what one Democratic political consultant calls “traditional feminine warmth.” Which was why it caused such a splash when Clinton once told a crowd, “I’m your girl” — there is little that’s girly about Hillary Clinton’s public persona.” Harold Meyerson in the Post: “ We are, just now, stuck between eras. The old order — the Reagan-age institutions built on the premise that the market can do no wrong and the government no right — is dying. A new order, in which Wall Street plays a diminished role and Washington a larger one, is aborning, but the process is painful and protracted. It shuddered to a halt on Monday, when House Republicans, by 2 to 1, declined to support the administration’s bailout plan. To lay the blame on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s speech (in which she even noted the work of House GOP leaders in crafting the compromise) is to miss the larger picture: The proposal asked Republicans to acknowledge the failure of the market and the capacity of government to set things right. It asked them to repudiate their worldview, to go against the beliefs that impelled many of them to enter politics in the first place. So as America experienced a financial crisis, House Republicans experienced a crisis of faith. And on Monday, most of them opted to stick to their faith, whatever the financial consequences for the nation.” Thomas Friedman in the Times: “As others have pointed out, you can’t save Main Street and punish Wall Street anymore than you can be in a rowboat with someone you hate and think that the leak in the bottom of the boat at his end is not going to sink you, too. “Decoupling” is pure fantasy.”
9.30 David Brooks in the Times: “In 1933, Franklin Roosevelt inherited an economic crisis. He understood that his first job was to restore confidence, to give people a sense that somebody was in charge, that something was going to be done. This
generation of political leaders is confronting a similar situation, and, so far, they have failed utterly and catastrophically to project any sense of authority. . . .By rejecting the rescue package on Monday, they have made the psychological climate much worse. . . .House Republicans led the way and will get most of the blame. It has been interesting to watch them on their single-minded mission to destroy the Republican Party. Not long ago, they led an anti-immigration crusade that drove away Hispanic support. Then, too, they listened to the loudest and angriest voices in their party, oblivious to the complicated anxieties that lurk in most American minds. Now they have once again confused talk radio with reality. If this economy slides, they will go down in history as the Smoot-Hawleys of the 21st century. With this vote, they’ve taken responsibility for this economy, and they will be held accountable. The short-term blows will fall on John McCain, the long-term stress on the existence of the G.O.P. as we know it.”
9.29 Obama 50, McCain 42. After Couric interview (“Palin: “It’s very important when you consider even national-security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America. Where–where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to–to our state”) and Tina Feyimpersonation, the bottom is dropping out of Palin stock. Fareed Zakaria in thePost: “Can we now admit the obvious? Sarah Palin is utterly unqualified to be vice president. She is a feisty, charismatic politician who has done some good things in Alaska. But she has never spent a day thinking about any important national or international issue, and this is a hell of a time to start.” Laurence Summers in thePost: “The idea seems to have taken hold that the nation will have to scale back its aspirations in areas such as health care, energy, education and tax relief. This is more wrong than right. We have here the unusual case where economic analysis suggests that dismal conclusions are unwarranted and recent events suggest that in the near term, government should do more, not less.” Thomas L. Friedman in the Times: “We don’t just need a bailout. We need a buildup. We need to get back to making stuff, based on real engineering not just financial engineering. We need to get back to a world where people are able to realize the American Dream — a house with a yard — because they have built something with their hands, not because they got a “liar loan” from an underregulated bank with no money down and nothing to pay for two years.”THEN IN THE AFTERNOON,ASTONISHING NEWS: The House defeats the bailout package, and the Dow plunges 777 points.
9.28 Bailout agreement reached. Classy Mike Mussina wins his 20th. Mets complete another ignominious collapse.
9.27 Paul Newman dies. We buy a 2008 Toyota Yaris. We hope to own it until 2015. Goodbye little Saturn.
9.25 Somebody on Morning Joe–Mike Barnicle, maybe–said that in his address last night, Bush looked like he was making a hostage tape. David Ignatius in thePost: “What advice would Keynes offer Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke? His first instinct, I think, would be to reiterate that markets, left to themselves, will not solve this sort of crisis. They need government help . . . . including underwriting mortgage loans, backstopping the market for credit swaps and other steps. But if these measures are taken piecemeal, without broad political support, they may only add to the public’s anxiety. Indeed, that’s a real worry now: A Wall Street panic may become a Main Street panic.” Gail Collins in the Times: “The election is turning into a Goldilocks story. One candidate’s too hot, and one’s too cool.”
9.24 David Leonhardt in the Times:“[Congress’s] best shot at success [in dealing with the bailout bill] depends on keeping the debate tightly focused on the questions that matter most. What steps are most likely to solve the immediate crisis? And how can the long-term cost to taxpayers be minimized? Everything else . . . is either a detail or a distraction. . . .The first thing to understand is that a bailout plan doesn’t have to cost anywhere close to $700 billion, so long as it’s designed well. The $700 billion number that you see everywhere is an estimate of how much the government would spend to buy deteriorating assets now held by banks. Eventually, the government will turn around and sell these assets, for a price almost certain to be greater than zero. . . . The most obvious solution is to pay more than 25 cents on the dollar and then demand something in return for the premium — namely, a stake in any firm that participates in the bailout. . . .The government would then be accomplishing three things at once. First, it would take possession of the bad assets now causing a panic on Wall Street. Second, it would inject cash into the financial system and help shore up firms’ balance sheets. And, third, it would go a long way toward minimizing the ultimate cost to taxpayers.” Christopher Hitchens in Slate: “Last week really ought to have been the end of the McCain campaign. . . . And yet, and unless I am about to miss some delayed “groundswell” or mood shift, none of this has translated into any measurable advantage for the Democrat. . . .Why is Obama so vapid and hesitant and gutless? Why, to put it another way, does he risk going into political history as a dusky Dukakis?” Ginny offered new job at Valhalla.
9.23 Andrew Ross Sorkin in the Times: “[The proposed bailout] is classic Wall Street: a big, bold roll of the dice that one trade can save the day. But at the same time, the hypocrisy is thick. The lack of transparency and oversight that got our financial system in trouble in the first place seems directly written into the proposed bill.” David Brooks in the Times: “The turmoil wracking the world financial markets is a crisis of confidence. What Paulson, et al. have tried to do is reassert authority — the sort that used to be wielded by the Mellons and Rockefellers and other rich men in private clubs. Inspired in part by Paul Volcker, Nicholas Brady and Eugene Ludwig, and announced last week, the Paulson plan is a pure establishment play. It would assign nearly unlimited authority to a small coterie of policy makers. . . .But in exchange, it promises to restore confidence. . . .[T]he plan will probably not be stopped. The markets would tank. There is a hunger for stability, which only the Treasury and the Fed can provide.” George Will in the Washington Post, on McCain’s “Queen of Hearts” call to fire the SEC’s Christopher Cox: “It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?”
John Fund has the weirdest comment on Hardball last night, complaining thatJohn McCain has released “thousands of pages” of medical records, while Obamahad released just one. Is it possible that McCain has thousands of pages (all that therapy after torture, four bouts of cancer), while the lean, fit, prime of life Obama only has one? On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough continues to defend the surge. Yes, okay, it worked. But what is the significance of that? Does it justify the invasion? Does it absolve all the mismanagement, terrible leadership and criminal activity that took place? Of course it doesn’t. Larry Kudlow on Hardball ridiculously blames the crisis on Congress forcing (!) banks to financially unqualified poor people.
9.17 Congratulations to the New York Times for publishing in its Dining In section aphotograph of a young and peachy Sarah Palin at a moose-butchering party. . . .David Brooks in The Times: “Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness.” Thomas Friedman: ““We are at the end of an era — the end of ‘leave it to the markets’ and of the great cop-out that less government is always better government,” argues David Rothkopf, author of Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Making. “I think, however, it is important to stress the difference between smart government and simply more government. We do not need a regulatory ‘surge’ on Wall Street. We need a complete rethinking of how we make global financial markets more transparent and how we ensure that the risks within those markets — many of which are new and many of which are not well understood even by the experts — are managed and monitored properly.”
9.15 Sent a fan letter to Mina Al-Oraibi, my favorite commentator on the BBC’sDateline London program, and she actually replied: “Thanks for the message – always a lovely surprise to hear from someone watching the program. I write for Asharq Alawsat, its an international Arab-language newspaper that distributes in the Middle East, Europe and the US… but sadly I dont think you will be able to read what I write, unless Playboy hires Arabists? Hope all is well at your end of the world.” Well, Wall Street is crashing, a hurricane is ruining Texas, the Republicans are rallying, the Yankees will miss the postseason, Brett Favre is not proving to be the messiah and my wife hates her job, but yes, things are okay!
9.15 A beautiful day on Fifth Avenue. Chaos on Wall Street–a week after Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are nationalized, Lehman goes under and Merrill Lynch is sold. How low will we go? Paul Krugman in the Times: “And so here we are, with Mr. Paulson apparently feeling that playing Russian roulette with the U.S. financial system was his best option. Yikes.”
9.14 What a lot of fat men go to ballgames.
9.13 Cara and I have a splendid run to the the Strand.
9.12 Jim Fallows on the atlantic.com: “What Sarah Palin revealed is that she has not been interested enough in world affairs to become minimally conversant with the issues. Many people in our great land might have difficulty defining the “Bush Doctrine” exactly. But not to recognize the name, as obviously was the case for Palin, indicates not a failure of last-minute cramming but a lack of attention to any foreign-policy discussion whatsoever in the last seven years. . . .How could she not know this? For the same reason I don’t know anything about European football/soccer standings, player trades, or intrigue. I am not interested enough, and she evidently has not been interested enough even to follow the news of foreign affairs during the Bush era. ”
9.12 Ron Rosenbaum on ronrosenbaum.com: “What the [Obama] campaign needs to do is focus on Wall Street. On what FDR called “the malefactors of great wealth”. On the fact that the Republican party through its obsessive, greedy, lobbyist driven fetishizing of financial de-regulation has allowed the economy to be turned into a casino for the super-rich which has driven us into ruin by turning the hard earned money of the rest of country into mendacious instruments of greed on a vast scale–the entire “derivatives” scam that is behind the subprime crash-threatening fiasco going on now. Yes, it’s true that the Clintonians were in bed with them (and Biden was a shill for the credit card industry) but six years of pure Republican rule handed the economy to the hedge fund creeps, virtually turned the economy into a hedge fund, a huge financial scam. . . .This is the year for a populist assault on these greedheads who once again have demonstrated that their unchecked, unregulated chicanery outruns their sense of responsibility. So what if many are Democrats, the more the shame.” Good issue, Ron, but shitty political advice. Kevin Phillips on huffingtonpost.com: “Each of the the three nations that preceded the U.S. as the leading world economic power — Hapsburg Spain in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, Holland when New York was still New Amsterdam, then Britain from the Industrial Revolution to the early 20th century — has met a roughly similar fate: global diplomatic and military over-reach, a transformation of its economy to rely on finance and globalism, misplaced hubris, wars it cannot afford and ultimately, debt it can no longer manage. Each comeuppance has been harsh. . . . The United States of 2008 fits this pattern, too. . . .The odds are that today’s postures will not, over the coming decade, save Wall Street’s financial bubble, the U.S. dollar or Washington’s global over-reach.”
9.11 Seven years. Osama didn’t succeed just by attacking America and killing Americans–he has caused us to trash our values, our heritage, and our standing in the world. What terrible leadership we have had. (Flash: According to a report in The Washington Post, “Gov. Sarah Palin linked the war in Iraq with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, telling an Iraq-bound brigade of soldiers that included her son that they would defend the innocent from the enemies who planned and carried out and rejoiced in the death of thousands of Americans.”’ And so the big lie is passed to a new generation.)
9.10 From Peregrine Worthstone in thefirstpost.co.uk. : “Did [McCain] consult the allies [before picking Palin]? Of course not. For even with the little knowledge that was available to him he must have known all too well that her qualities and talents were strictly for local consumption, and almost provocatively off-putting for the rest of the free world. Clearly, we don’t count. Like Caligula, he could make a horse his running mate, and we, the free world, are expected to grin and bear it.” FromJonathan Freedland in The Guardian: “Until now, anti-Americanism has been exaggerated and much misunderstood: outside a leftist hardcore, it has mostly been anti-Bushism, opposition to this specific administration. But if McCain wins in November, that might well change. Suddenly Europeans and others will conclude that their dispute is with not only one ruling clique, but Americans themselves. For it will have been the American people, not the politicians, who will have passed up a once-in-a-generation chance for a fresh start – a fresh start the world is yearning for.”
9.10 As usual, Camille Paglia has something smart and original to say (from Salon): “In terms of redefining the persona for female authority and leadership, Palin has made the biggest step forward in feminism since Madonna channeled the dominatrix persona of high-glam Marlene Dietrich and rammed pro-sex, pro-beauty feminism down the throats of the prissy, victim-mongering, philistine feminist establishment. . . .The gun-toting Sarah Palin is like Annie Oakley, a brash ambassador from America’s pioneer past. She immediately reminded me of the frontier women of the Western states, which first granted women the right to vote after the Civil War. . . .A feminism that cannot admire the bravura under high pressure of the first woman governor of a frontier state isn’t worth a warm bucket of spit.” Thomas Friedmanin the Times: “Whoever slipped that Valium into Barack Obama’s coffee needs to be found and arrested by the Democrats because Obama has gone from cool to cold. Somebody needs to tell Obama that if he wants the chance to calmly answer the phone at 3 a.m. in the White House, he is going to need to start slamming down some phones at 3 p.m. along the campaign trail. I like much of what he has to say, especially about energy, but I don’t think people are feeling it in their guts, and I am a big believer that voters don’t listen through their ears. They listen through their stomachs.”
9.9 Signs of the times: yesterday, a headline flashed across trading saying United Airlines had filed for a second bankruptcy. They hadn’t. But an old Chicago Tribunearticle was posted on the website of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel, which was picked up by a research firm, Income Securities Advisors, which then posted a link to it on a page on Bloomberg News, which sent out a news alert. United’s shares then fell from more than $12 to about $3 in less than an hour before trading was halted, wiping more than $1 billion in value. Its shares closed at $10.92. Elsewhere, Joe Sharkeyreports in the Times on the case of Alex Harris, who was twice detained by airport security because his name showed up on a terrorist watch list, even though Alex had (1) his passport, (2) his birth certificate and (3) is 7 years old.
9.9 Contrary to my expectations, McCain has gotten a big bounce from Palin.Obama needs to fight harder. Richard Cohen in The Washington Post: “Thank God for Sarah Palin. Without her jibes, her sarcasm, her exaggerations, her smug provincialism, her hypocrisy about family and government, her exploitation of mommyhood, and her personal attacks on Barack Obama, the Democratic base might never be consolidated. This much is certain: Obama could never do it. Not, anyway, the Obama who appeared Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos. That Obama was cool, diffident, above it all — unflustered, unflappable, unexcitable and downright unexciting. These “uns” ran on, a torrent of cool that frosted my flat-panel TV and had me wondering if, as a kid, Obama ever got a shot in the mouth on the playground, he’d glare at the bully — and convene a meeting.” Bob Herbert in the Times: “The Republicans were back at it last week at their convention. Mitt Romney wasn’t content to insist that he personally knows that “liberals don’t have a clue.” . . . .Why liberals don’t stand up to this garbage, I don’t know. Without the extraordinary contribution of liberals — from the mightiest presidents to the most unheralded protesters and organizers — the United States would be a much, much worse place than it is today.”
9.5 Bland acceptance speech by McCain last night. How long before we se PALIN IN ‘12 signs? Paul Krugman has a good piece in the Times today about the angry right and the politics of resentment. “What struck me as I watched the convention speeches, however, is how much of the anger on the right is based not on the claim that Democrats have done bad things, but on the perception–generally based on no evidence whatsoever–that Democrats look down their noses at regular people.” A British bloke named Rod Liddle writing at Spectator.com says “Ah, just when you pro-Republican monkeys were beginning to think that John McCain was looking a pretty good bet, he goes and chooses a backwoods polar-bear-strangling Britney Spears manqué as a running mate — a woman who appears to believe that the earth was created precisely 4,004 years ago and who, in earlier times, found the Republican Party inclined at far too shallow an angle to the right. A sort of Alaskan version of Pauline Hanson, except with a better embonpoint.” Thus he starts an argument about the meaning of embonpoint–is it just a guy’s tummy, or does it also refer to the boobs?
9.4 Rudy Giuliani spoke last night in favor of the Republican ticket. “Barack Obamahas never led anything,” Mr. Giuliani said. “Nothing. Nada.” It’s noteworthy that Giuliani made this precise argument in favor of his own candidacy, and it got him, well, nothing, Nada. Zippo. Zilch.” He must really like that argument. Loved hearingPeggy Noonan and Mike Murphy on an open MSNBC mike diss the Palin pick as “bullshit” and “a disaster.” Do all the GOP elites think this thing is all but over?
9.3 McCain nominated. Thomas L. Friedman in the Times: “With his choice ofSarah Palin . . . .McCain has completed his makeover from the greenest Republican to run for president to just another representative of big oil.” Very fine issue of The New Yorker, especially David Remnick’s summation of the Denver convention (most notable for his quote of a line by Ohio Governor Ted Strickland: “UnlikeGeorge H.W. Bush, who was born on third base and thought he hit a triple,George W. Bush was born on third base, and stole second”), Steve Coll’s article about Daniel Petraeus, and Ian Parker’s wonderful profile of an anhedoic Alec Baldwin (with an astonishing photo by Martin Schoeller.)
9.2 David Brooks in the Times, in a generally complimentary piece about Sarah Palin: “My worry about Palin is that she shares McCain’s primary weakness–that she has a tendency to substitute amoral philosophy for a political philosophy. There are some issues where the most important job is to rally the armies of decency against the armies of corruption. . . .But most issues are not confrontations between virtue and vice. Most problems. . .are the product of complex conditions. . ..[McCain] really needs someone to impose a plicy structure on his moral intuitions. . . .He needs a near-equal who can turn his instincts, which are great, into doctrine that everybody else can predict and understand.” Bob Herbert quotes FDR: “Liberty requires opportunity to make a living, a decent living according to the standard of the time, a living whch gives man not only something to live by, but something to live for.”
9.1 A stunning implication in the column by William Kristol today in the Times: “There are Republicans who are unhappy about John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin. Many are insiders who highly value — who overly value — “experience.” There are also sensible strategists who nervously note just how big a gamble McCain has taken. But what was McCain’s alternative? To go quietly down to defeat, accepting a role as a bit player in The Barack Obama Story?” Went to see the waterfalls in New York Harbor.
8.30 Visited Mom in Maryland. Terribly sad.
8.29 McCain chooses Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Summer in the city, over before it began.
8.28 Obama delivers powerful acceptance speech. `Enough!” he says. After six weeks of rope-a-doping McCain through the slow part of the campaign schedule, Obama comes put slugging. Michael Powell’s article in the Times about Obama’s nomination quotes Dezie Woods-Jones, a member of the California delegation who was present at Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on August 28, 1963: “I was young, naïve enough to think I would see that in 5, 10 years,” she said. “Then you see leaders killed, you see police brutality, residential segregation in cities. About 10 years ago I thought: I won’t see this. This is something for my grandchildren. What to say except, ‘Oh, hallelujah!’ ” He also quotes the courageous CongressmanJohn Lewis of Georgia, the last man alive of the 10 who spoke that day at the Lincoln Memorial and whose head still bears the scars of the beating he took at the hands of police officers at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. “We’ve had disappointments since then, but if someone told me I would be here,” Mr. Lewis said, shaking that head. “When people say nothing has changed, I feel like saying, ‘Come walk in my shoes.’ ” This morning, Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan joinJames Carville and Paul Begala in wondering why the Dems haven’t been harder on the GOP. Rick Stengel and others seem to think that this would be injurious to the Obama brand. I see that point, but I’m sorry–somebody, somewhere, ought to be going after these guys with an axe.
8.27 Stress echo test–the pipes are open. Obama nominated after a highly choreographed roll call, full of the usual local boosterism, culminating in Hillary’s call for unanimity, a first in my life: “Madam Secretary, on behalf of the great state of New York, with appreciation for the spirit and dedication of all who are gathered here, with eyes firmly fixed on the future in the spirit of unity, with the goal of victory, with faith in our party and country, let’s declare together in one voice, right here and right now, that Barack Obama is our candidate and he will be our president.” The nomination of the first black man as its candidate for president makes this a truly historic night, culminating a fight for freedom that ranks with the greatest of America’s achievements. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Tonight we join Dr. King at the mountain.
8.26 Hillary Clinton makes a splendid speech at the convention, putting together all the good qualities she brings to the table, and selling it with the power she learned during the campaign. “Were you in this campaign just for me?” If Obama does not match her, Dems will wonder if they let the winner get away.
8.25 Good episode of Mad Men last night. ”Peggy, listen to me. Get out of here and move forward. This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened.”Susan Faludi in the Times: “Today, the United States ranks 22nd among the 30 developed nations in its proportion of female federal lawmakers. The proportion of female state legislators has been stuck in the low 20 percent range for 15 years; women’s share of state elective executive offices has fallen consistently since 2000, and is now under 25 percent. The American political pipeline is 86 percent male. Women’s real annual earnings have fallen for the last four years. Progress in narrowing the wage gap between men and women has slowed considerably since 1990, yet last year the Supreme Court established onerous restrictions on women’s ability to sue for pay discrimination. The salaries of women in managerial positions are on average lower today than in 1983. . . .Again, male politicians and pundits indulge in outbursts of “new masculinist” misogyny (witness Mrs. Clinton’s campaign coverage). Again, the news media showcase young women’s “feminist — new style” pseudo-liberation — the flapper is now a girl-gone-wild. Again, many daughters of a feminist generation seem pleased to proclaim themselves so “beyond gender” that they don’t need a female president. As it turns out, they won’t have one. But they will still have all the abiding inequalities that Hillary Clinton, especially in defeat, symbolized.”
8.24 A never-better Andrew Sullivan analyzes “this face-off between perhaps the most talented duo to joust for the title since Kennedy and Nixon in 1960”: “[Obama] is at home in the rabble-rousing church of his former pastor Jeremiah Wright and yet he is also in his element at the University of Chicago and Harvard Law School. He plays basketball and can write like a professional novelist. He is a product of modern Chicago and premodern Indonesia – and able to note similarities in each. It is hard to think of a man with this story existing in any other country, let alone being in a position, in his mid-forties, to become the president of it. In the context of America, though, the strangeness of Obama is not so strange. It is imbued with the possibility of self-reinvention. Nothing is more American than that. The raw appeal ofMcCain as a candidate, on the other hand, is rooted in another form of Americanness. It is an older form but just as potent. McCain draws on the Scots-Irish belligerence and sense of honour that have fuelled America for centuries. . . .Psychologically, he is both a passionate servant of what he regards as national honour – and yet he is also an indefatigable rebel. He has rarely met an institution that he does not want to both uphold and to undercut. He broke every rule in the Naval Academy and yet it would be hard to express the love the man obviously has for the US armed services. He is a revered senator and shrewd legislator, but almost all his Senate colleagues have been at the wrong end of a barrage of expletives at one time or other. . . .McCain is a far more mercurial, emotional and volatile character than Obama. Despite being a generation older – he will be 72 on Friday – he is temperamentally much younger than his rival. There is a lot of Churchill in McCain: the melodrama and the sanctimony, the mawkishness and the sincerity, the big heart and sometimes faulty judgment. . . .Obama is politically liberal and temperamentally conservative; McCain is temperamentally liberal and politically unpredictable. Obama is cerebral; McCain is emotional. Obama is reserved, sometimes aloof; McCain is a social gadfly and seemingly terrified of being left alone and silent. Obama wins press adoration but is not close to journalists; McCain is personal friends with hacks of all sorts. Obama makes plans and executes them with sometimes chilling discipline; McCain veers from one passion to another, winging it – and somehow pulling it off. Obama hates to lose but is happy to hang back in a fight, allowing his opponent to overreach himself; McCain is just as competitive, but if he has ever pulled a rhetorical or political punch, it’s news to me. . . .The difficult question Americans have to ask themselves is not who is the right man – it is who is right for now.”
8.23 203. Obama chooses Joe Biden to be his running mate, passing over the enormously talented, gifted, independent, baggage-burdened Hillary Clinton, thereby providing a signal insight into his personality: he’s not self-destructive.
8.21 From a column by Nicholas Wapshott in The New York Sun: “When the artful prime minister of Britain, Harold Macmillan, was asked what he considered the greatest threat a statesman might face, he replied `Events, dear boy, events.”’
8.20 My colonoscopy, all for nothing. Meanwhile, news that brought out disappointment, bitterness, envy and self-pity–all of the least attractive emotions. And the least profitable.
8.19 Cara’s dental procedure. Sounds like an ordeal ahead.
8.18 Ginny’s procedure. I dreamed about my Dad. I had called him on the phone and asked if it was OK to come see him, as I routinely did, and he said `Yeah!” as he always did–his distinctive “YE-ah!” And then I woke up.
8.17 An okay Mad Men uplifted by one small moment, when Duck says to Harry Crane “What are you doing here?” and Harry says “I’m the head of television”, and Duck says nothing else. Yes! That’s just the way it happens!
8.14 The trek to Bethel Woods for the Jonas Brothers–getting lost, getting a speeding ticket, plugged up in the traffic jam, getting lost at Bear Mountain, arriving home at 3 AM–just so Cara can be deliriously happy. Well worth it.
8.10 206.1 Alessandra Stanley in the Times: “It’s not impossible to understand whyJohn Edwards had an affair. It’s not so hard to imagine why he thought he could get away with it. What is baffling is why he thought talking about it on television would help.” Wild ending on Mad Men: “I will destroy him. Do as I say!” Bernie Mac andIssac Hayes, within hours on one another!
8.8 Paul Krugman in the Times: “Know-nothingism — the insistence that there are simple, brute-force, instant-gratification answers to every problem, and that there’s something effeminate and weak about anyone who suggests otherwise — has become the core of Republican policy and political strategy. The party’s de facto slogan has become: `Real men don’t think things through.’ ”
8.7 Oliver Stone at the Burns. “Dick Cheney is a boring man, and he’s very good at it. What he’s doing underneath is very important.”
8.6 Thomas Friedman in the Times today: “Our kids are going to be so angry with us one day. We’ve charged their future on our Visa cards. We’ve added so many greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, for our generation’s growth, that our kids are likely going to spend a good part of their adulthood, maybe all of it, just dealing with the climate implications of our profligacy. And now our leaders are telling them the way out is “offshore drilling” for more climate-changing fossil fuels. Madness. Sheer madness.” And from Maureen Dowd: “Not since Iago and Othello obsessed on the comely Cassio, not since Richard of Gloucester killed his two nephews, not since Nixon and Johnson glowered at the glittering J.F.K., has there been such an unseemly outpouring of boy envy.Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson and John Edwards have all been crazed with envy over the ascendance of the new “It” guy, Barack Obama.” Boy envy–very good.
8.4 Keith Olbermann’s smug sanctimoniousness is just intolerable.
8.1 Stan Michels died. Man–Dad, Stan, Jack Grady, Tim Russert, Bobby Murcer, Tony Snow, George Carlin. Tough summer! Also Alexander Solzhenitsyn, but I didn’t really know him all that well.
7.27 Saw American Teen at the Burns. Excellent storytelling. Three of the subjects–Mitch, Megan and Colin–attended and took questions from Janet Maslin of the Burns. Interesting film, good event.
7.26 Yankee fever. Joba pitches Yanks to 1-0 win over the Red Sox last night,Pettitte leads team to a 10-3 clobbering today, and the front office makes a big trade. The team is 8-0 since the All Star break. Looks like a race this summer after all.
7.25 What a good week, professionally, anyway–review of Rome 1960 in The Washington Post on Sunday (see blog), a front page post in The Huffington Posttoday (20 + comments, none on point), the reading on Wednesday (see blog), got Joe Queenan in the magazine, and today Gary Hart agrees to write a piece, Not too shabby!
7.23 Reading at the Hudson Valley Writers’ Center.
7.21 In the July 21st issue of The New Yorker, in an article about E.B. White and the birth of Stuart Little, Jill Lepore writes “[M]any books we shelve as `children’s literature–Grimm’s Fairy Tales or Gulliver’s Travels or Huckleberry Finn were born as biting political satire for adults.” No doubt that is the future of The Coup–children’s literature for the 22nd century.
7.16 Received an email from Ron Hull informing me that John Grady died earlier in the week. He is the man who recruited me to LaSalle and helped me win a scholarship, and that allowed me to get an education, meet my wife, and begin my life. The angel on my road to Damascus.
7.14 Lunch with John Stacks at Milos. Met Faith Popcorn.
7.6 Dad died.
7.4 Saw The Last Mistress. Sucked. Excellent fireworks over Trump National.
7.3 Molly, off to Roma!
7.2 Lunch with Warren Adler. Dave Leonhardt in the Times: “Pundits have been scratching their heads about why the public mood is so grim. . . . For the first time on record, an economic expansion seems to have just ended without most families having received a raise. For the first time on record, the typical home price nationwide is falling. The inflation-adjusted value of the S&P 500-stock index dropped 20 in the last year. I think the public has called this issue exactly right: the American economy has some real problems.”
7.1 Clay Felker dies. Everyone walks in his footsteps. One eulogist said that Felker was a great editor because he worked until 8, went out every night, never drank, and came home with a pocketful of napkins that had story ideas on them.
6.30 Field Marshal Sam H.F.J. Manekshaw, India’s best-known soldier, is dead. In December 1971, just before war broke out with Pakistan, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi asked him “General, are you ready for the war?” He replied, “I’m always ready, sweetie.” India defeated Pakistan in three weeks.
Lunch with Glenn Kenny.
6.29 Thomas L. Friedman in the Times: “My fellow Americans, we are a country in debt and in decline–not terminal, not irreversable, but in decline. Our political system seems incapable of producing long-range answers to big problems or big opportunities. We are ones who need a better-functioning democracy–more than the Iraqis and Afghans. We are the ones in need of nation-building. It is our political system that is not working.”
6.26 In the Times, Maureen Dowd quoting ABC’s Christianne Klein quotingKarl Rove speaking to Republicans at the Capitol Hill Club about Barack Obama: “Even if you never met him, you know this guy. He’s the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by.” WHAAAT? As Dowd says, “Actually, that sounds more like W.” Must-read op-ed piece by Gary Hart on Obama and the cycles of American history.
6.24 Eye-popping article in the busines section focusing on Tom Wolfe. “We may be witnessing the end of capitalism as we know it,” he says prophetically. He is said to be “mesmerized” by what happened on Wall Street in the last year: “Nobody understands where the actual value is–and they don’t care anymore.” It’s worrisome to be hitching one’s future to NYC’s big engine in such circumstances; but who among us is not?
6.23 George Carlin dies. “By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth.”
6.22 Maureen Dowd in the Times on Carla Bruni Sarkozy. “Intuitively aware of the media, she handles both the French and foreign press with a down-to-earth aplomb. She has said she will keep her personality “while respecting the dignity of the position” and take her job “seriously.” She plans to write a diary, adding: “I write in French and dream in Italian.” The magazine Le Point had a cover with Carla’s gleaming face and the headline “La Présidente,” with a picture inside of Sarko standing docilely behind his wife, as she sat at his desk and offered that assured feline gaze to the camera.”
6.21 212.9. Finished my wall.
6.20 Shooting at Sandanona. Had a blast.
6.18 The Celtics won their 17h World Championship last night. A window dresser at the NBA Store on Fifth Avenue marks the occasion.
6.15 Built a wall. Saw Cara perform with the Croton Teen Chorus. She is very secretive about her singing, and this was our first chance to hear her sing in over a year. It was a revelation to hear that she is so good, with a high, clear voice that is on pitch. She also enunciates clearly. She had one solo number, I Got Rhythm, and performed as part of the ensemble on others. It was most enjoyable. Had a very nice dinner with the Schmidts afterwards.
6.13 Tim Russert dies.
6.11 Lunch with Time Out New York editor Ashlea Halpern.
6.10 Attended the MPA Video Conference “Magazines: 24/7: Video.” There’s a lot of amazing work out there. I think that just the way editors 20-25 years ago had to start being conscious and attentive to the visual elements and visual presentation of their stories, editors will now have to be mindful of the video elements of the websites they operate. Time to lern how to use the flipcam.
6.7 214.3. Hillary suspends her campaign. If before the campaign started, someone had predicted that Hillary would 18 million votes and win states like Indiana and West Virgnia as well as most of the big states, you would have said “who’s her choice for VP?” She ran a better campaign in losing than most winners run, she achieved wide support, she proved her mettle, and she didn’t make any more mistakes than most candidates. She just lost. She’s the ‘69 Orioles, who won 109 games and swept the LCS, and who lost to the Miracle Mets. I
6.6 215.2. Went to see Hamlet with Molly in Central Park. Sam Waterston as Polonius steals the show. “The new reality is that to a degree we haven’t seen in our lifetimes, the United States is a normal country—a very powerful country, but normal nonetheless: not a superpower.”–Fred Kaplan, from “Is Barack Obama Too Naive to Be President?”, in Slate.
6.5 Keynote at Marymount Manhattan Writers Conference today. Obit inTimes for William Odom, former National Security Director. “The issue is not whether the Iraqi people will greet U.S. soldiers as liberators,” he told The Washington Post in February 2003, “but what they will do six months after that. I find it naive and disingenuous to claim that you can create democracy in Iraq any time soon. The administration has already assured us that the U.S. will not stay there for very long, and if that is the case, then the goal of establishing a constitutional system in Iraq is a joke.” Wall Street Journal says that Obama will consider Hillary as VP if Bill opens the books on the donations to his presidential library. This reminds us howMondale’s selection of Geraldine Ferraro swiftly became about John Zaccaro. Why on earth would Barack Obama allow his presidential campaign to turn on questions of Bill Clinton’s conduct? The dream ticket will never happen.
6.4 Splendid profile of the odious Roger Stone by Jeffrey Toobin in the June 2 issue of The New Yorker.
6.3 Obama clinches nomination; Hillary delays endorsement. It’s at times like these that one is reminded how curious the Clintons are, deeply flawed vessels for our hopes.
5.27 Tucker Carlson was on Morning Joe saying it’s a miracle that McCain is running ahead of Obama at this point. It is a miracle, but it’s coming to an end. Barring misplays–and you can never really bar misplays where Democrats are concerned–the internal fundamentals will take over around Labor Day. McCain will compare poorly to Obama. McCain is older, less handsome, and speaks less well. This will cost him. Obama will get his convenetion bump and McCain will not. The economy will hurt McCain, and Dems will make an issue of the war (read: draft) and the Supreme Court (read: abortion). McCain needs to be the Happy Warrior at all times to have a chance. He seems to want to make a campaign out of his experience and Obama’s lack. Look how that worked for Hillary.
5.26 Did Hillary blow her chances at VP with the RFK observation? Hope not. Despite all the difficulties she poses and all the baggage she brings, he has no better choice.
5.25 From Alan Furst’s excellent The Spies of Warsaw: “Do you know the Latin proverb Mundus vult decipi, ergo decepiatur? Herr Hitler’s favorite saying: The world wants to be deceived, therefore let it be deceived.”
5.24 Visited the Aged Ps. Mother less coherent than ever. Dad drives without insurance! Perhaps at long last we have an agreement.
5.23 Lunch with Rick Perlstein 218.0
5.20 Hillary wins in Kentucky, Obama in Oregon. It’s over, but she keeps winning.
5.19 Exceptionally good episode of House, about AMber.
5.14 Visted MOMA with Ken Smith to see the George Lois exhibit, but it was also fun to see Van Gogh, Picasso, Miro, Monet, Pollack, de Koonig and all the other giants with a guy who knows a few things about art. Saw True Blood at HBO. Unconvinced.
5.13 Things that don’t seem to be blessings, but that’s what they are: hearding from my cousin Theresa Beckemeyer, having dinner with of the Briarcliff Book Club. Not since I was in a bassinette have I been the focus of a roomful of women. Fun!
5.7 “Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible. He is a kind of confidence man, preying on people’s vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse.” –Janet Malcolm
5.6 Obama wins in NC, Hillary, narrowly, in Indiana. It’s time for the superdelegates to shut it down.
5.1 ASME Awards. Here’s Amy Loyd and I enroute.
4.29 222.0 Dismal news from Gerry Howard. Mediabistro’s Skirts, Slacks and Supper.
4.28 Slashing rain.
4.26 Visit to the aged Ps on their 65th wedding anniversary. Mother is quite ill, Dad is beleagured and brave. Listened to all of Simon & Garfunkel’s songs on the way down. Some–The Boxer, Bridge Over Troubled Water, My Little Town–are much more sonically complex than I recalled. A number of Simon’s middle-period songs are very naive–it’s almost like he was scraping for interesting things to say. But as he got older he got better–simpler–more adept at expressing himself. I would like to interview him about his songs one day.
4.25 Lunch with James Rosen. Here’s to The Strong Man!
4.22 Hillary beats Obama by ten points in Pennsylvania, prolonging a contest she can’t win, weakening the man who is all but certain to be the nominee. She’s shown herself to be a better campaigner than Gore, or Kerry, and maybe even Obama, but sometimes, it’s just not your year. When it’s all over, she needs to ask her staff whose bright idea it was to cede Obama all the caucus states.
4.14 Cara decides to be vegetarian, not vegan.
4.13 BriCa reading. 221.9
4.12 Cara’s dance performance, She’s rhythmic and supple and seems to like it. I wish she liked the people she was doing it with, though. She’s very independent, largely an admirable trait.
4.6 Cara competed in her first horseback riding show, took a 3rd and a 6th on a skittish horse. 223.5.
4.5 Useful quote from Edmund Burke: “A conscientious man would be cautious how he dealt in blood.”
4.2 Fascinating article in the Observer: The Decline and Fall of The Writer. Eric Alterman party.
4.1 Happy birthday, Ginny. UJA benefit honoring Bob Meyers tonight.
3.31 Won three fabulous Gillray etchings on eBay. Here’s one:
3.29 Had a most enjoyable time with Cara this afternoon going to BJ’s, listening to theAcross the Universe CD in the car. It’s delightful: Cara has discovered the Beatles. She’s also trying to go vegan.
3.25 Daniel Radosh’s book party tonight. Here’s to Rapture Ready!
3.9 Cara appears in the high school’s production of Kiss Me, Kate. Fun! Stormy day culminates in a blackout lasting ten hours or so. Thankfully, the emergency back-up battery is a success in its debut. We are thrilled and relieved.
3.5 231.2 Hillary takes 3 of 4 primaries, including Texas and Ohio–the race refuses to end. Hillary has to stop undermining Obama; he has to show he can win big blue states. Did he peak too soon? A lot of psychological momentum could ride on Pennsylvania.
2.24 Took Cara driving at the Croton Harmon parking lot. Watched the Oscar telecast. Did I not predict the Oscar for No Country for Old Men the moment I saw it last summer?
2.18 234.4 Obama wins Wisconsin, Washington & Hawaii–has now won 10 in a row.
2.16 235.5 In Baltimore to see the aged Ps.
2.12 In New York magazine, Lindsay Lohan‘s tribute to Marilyn Monroe
2.11 238.5 Lunch with Jeff Ressner.
2.9 239.7 Went to hear Matt Weiner talk about Mad Men at the Burns Center. (Yes, believe it or not, this photo shows Matt Weiner speaking to Janet Maslin.) (By the way, this shows up perfectly well on the PCs at home, but is dark on the Mac at work.)
2.6 Lunch with Lisa Birnbach
2.5 Lunch with David McCormick. In the evening, Ginny and I went to Union Theological Seminary, where Cara and the rest of the Croton Teen Chorusjoined members of the Seminary Choir and the Princeton University Chapel Choir in performing Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. The song that one has heard in countless commercials for the Marine Corps and video games, O Fortuna, was especially stirring, but the whole experience–sitting in an intimate setting, hearing these talented singers–was unexpected and delightful.
2.4 Lunch with Marilyn Haft
2.3 Super Bowl XLII. The best ever? Maybe so. NYG 17 NE 14. The Giants’ incredible surge dashes the Pats’ grasp for singular greatness, in a game marked by great defense, tremendous individual plays and last second heroics. Very fine party, withGreg and Susan, Tim and Cathy, Joe, Annie, Ginny, Molly and Caraupstairs in proud adolescent isolation.
2.2 Saw Tom Stoppard’s Rock and Roll with Ginny and Greg and Susan Schmidt. It was a pretty good play, but I am too tall, old, stiff and fat to perch like a squirrel in a mezzanine seat for three hours. Really mitigates my enjoyment of the event.
1.30 Listening to Shelby Lynne’s Dusty Springfield tribute album, Just A Little Lovin’. Tremendous. But where is Brand New Me? And Son of a Preacher Man?
1.29 McCain wins the Florida by a lot, ending Giuliani’s bid, and setting up a showdown with Romney on Super Tuesday. Interesting dynamics. Will the Republicans nominate a guy so out of touch with what most of them want? Could this be the twilight of Limbaugh and Fox News? Those guys don’t like McCain–but voters keep choosing him. Does this mean the end of their act?
1.28 Ted Kennedy endorses Obama.
1.27 Lovely concert by the Croton Teen Chorus. I’m very glad Cara performs with them. Odd weekend: didn’t see a movie or a DVD or a sporting event. Well, I dd watch half of Paul Veerhoven’s Black Book with Ginny. A very vivid and exciting picture, if a little ridiculous. Carice van Houten is just terrific–a real movie star. Excellent episode of The Wire. Best line: Marlo telling Prop Joe “I wasn’t made to play the son,” seconds before having the man shot.
1.26 Obama trounces Clinton in South Carolina. Bill seems to have outlived her usefulness to Hillary’s campaign–we’ll see if he begins to disappear. Now we’ll see if Hillary’s virtues, extolled by the NY Times in its endorsement of her, can be successfully communicated in the run-up to Super Duper Tuesday. Obama will do well in the southern states that vote that day–how big an incursion will he make in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and California? He should attack her in the suburbs of those states; if she loses them, it’s over for her.
1.23 Lunch with Jade.
1.21 Persepolis, with Ginny, Molly, Cara and the Lindstroms, followed by dinner at a very good Greek place in North Tarrytown.
1.20 NYG 23, GB 20. The Giants are going to the Super Bowl! I like their chances. It feels like Super Bowl III.
1.19 There Will Be Blood, with Ginny, Molly and Cara.
1.18 Most excellent news from Molly today.
1.17 Lunch with Bryan Abrams.
1.14 Met Adam Monteneno
1.13 NYG 21 DAL 17. What a win! The defense was terrific. I think the Giants are going to give GB a run for its money on Sunday.
1.12 The Packers trounce Seattle in a classic snow game.
1.11 Lunch with Ryan D’Agostino
1.9 Lunch with Ken Smith
1.8 Lunch with Larry Doyle. McCain wins in NH, and Hillary defies all polls and predicitons and pulls off a large-margin upset. Could Hillary and Obama go toe-to-toe until the convention, swapping two-point victories every step of the way? And what of the GOP? After Florida, it’s not inconceivable that we’ll have a six-horse stampede. But it’s a party in disarray–they don’t have a candidate who doesn’t disappoint some key part of their coalition somewhere. And whoever wins is going to have an angry, divided party with which to face a real change agent, and a country hungry for change.
1.7 Terrific party at The Waverly Inn to celebrate Jim Collins‘ novel Beginner’s Greek. Saw Kurt Andersen, Graydon Carter, Susan Morrison, Jim Kelly, Rick Stengel, Ken Smith, Anne Kreamer, Bruce Handy, Helen Shulman, Aimee Bell, Larry Doyle, George Kalogerakis, Rachel Urqhart, Joanne Gruber, Lisa Birnbach, Melik Kaylen, Chris Porterfield, Eugene Linden, Ginia Bellinfante, Walter Kirn, Carter Burden, Bud Trillen, and more. Fun!
1.6 NYG 24 TB 14 Giants look terrific. Highly suggestible Giants fans think `why not us?’ Good opening episode of The Wire.
1.5 Lovely dinner with the Lindstroms. Always a pleasure.
1.3 Big wins for Obama and Huckabee in Iowa. Historic, in Obama’s case.
1.1 Customarily one of the year’s deadest days, this year is no different.