OBAMA’S ODYSSEY: THE 2008 RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE

Obama’s Odyssey: The 2008 Race for the White House – Connie Corcoran Wilson


It wasn’t what I expected and after I started reading it, I had to revise my approach to the book. I had been expecting the author’s journey, starting in Iowa and ending with the 2008 general election. Instead, it’s a compilation of blog posts written by the author over that same time span. It covers the same time period and material … but not as expected.

Obamas Odyssey book

Rather than a continuous, sequential narrative, the book comprises series of snapshots. Interviews and events with candidates, wannabes, politicians, volunteers, voters, support staff, and political operatives. Connie Corcoran Wilson’s posts are witty, amusing, perceptive, and enlightening, especially when she focuses on the realities of life as a working journalist covering a presidential campaign.

I could very easily relate the long hours, the short sleep, the rapid changes of venue. The mental agility required to keep up that grueling pace for all those months. Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, being a working reporter is far from glamorous.

Ms. Wilson captures the character of the people with whom she interacts with charm, humor, and grace. But there is, nonetheless, a choppy quality that is the inevitable result of a compilation of posts rather than a story. There is also a bit more repetition of subjects that is, again, the inevitable result of compiling blog entries rather than writing the story as a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Connie Wilson is a fine writer and she excels at her medium … blogging. I’m a blogger too. I “get” it. But blogging is not authoring. It’s the same church, but a different pew. Blog posts are free-standing, short subjects. You can collect them and put them in a binding to form a book-length volume of material, but it will still lack a continuous story. This lack becomes more increasingly problematic as the book progresses. The jumps between posts are sometimes a bit jarring.

The result? Despite excellent writing, the book doesn’t feel like a book. It feels like what it is: a huge collection of political blog posts. The posts are good, many excellent. A lot of perceptivity and sensitivity raises her writing well above the so-called news writing you find on the Internet … or for that matter, in much of what you’ll find in print or on television. I would have appreciated more “connective tissue” to give the book an easier-to-follow timeline and structure.

The good news? The insider views of the campaign are priceless. The people. The voters. The volunteers. The politicians and their operatives. The process itself with all its quirks. The information is timely and might help you put the current political frenzy in context.

The material and author’s insights make Obama’s Odyssey a worthwhile investment of time. It’s a good, albeit flawed, book that covers the extraordinary 2008 campaign with a rare intimacy.

THE POWER OF PORN – TOM CURLEY

There was an interesting article in the news the other day. It concerned a porn site called xhamster.com I don’t know why it’s called that and I really don’t want to know.

They’re in the news because they closed off their website to anybody living in the state of North Carolina. Why? Because of the harsh, horrible anti-LGBT law they recently passed. If you log onto their website from anywhere in that state, you get a blank screen.

blank screen

Blank screen for you!

The tone of all the news reports and nightly talk shows was that this was a funny but useless protest. There are thousands of other porn sites where North Carolinians can … well you know. But, as usual, the main stream media and the nightly talk shows missed the real story. I am not offering an opinion on the virtues or evils of porn. However, there is a larger truth which is widely known but rarely talked about regarding the porn industry. Porn has been a major driver, financial backer, and early adopter of technological innovation since the beginning. Since forever.

When mankind started drawing on cave walls, I guarantee you some of the first things depicted were people getting some Neanderthal Nookie.

thestar.com.my

thestar.com.my

Porn was very popular in the Middle Ages. Moreover, it utilized some of the earliest encryption technologies. I saw an exhibit in a museum once that showcased one of them. The exhibit consisted of huge tapestries painted with very strange distorted images. You couldn’t tell what they were.

What were they? Porn. The artist would draw the original naughty painting on a regular canvas. He would then look at the painting’s reflection in a cylindrical mirror. The image in the mirror would be all distorted. He would then paint that distorted image onto the tapestry. If you looked at the tapestry the painting made no sense.

anamorphic art

arthit.ru

But. If you looked at the tapestry’s reflection in the same cylindrical  mirror the artist used, the image would be reconstructed back to its original form. (“Naughty Knights 5”)

When photography was first invented in the 1800’s one of the earliest subjects was, of course, naked women. Having sex. When the telegraph was invented, telegraph operators were known to spend their off hours “telegraph sexting”.

I didn’t believe it either.

blog.kaspersky.com

blog.kaspersky.com

OPERATOR ONE: Who you talking to?

OPERATOR TWO: I don’t know, but she sure can dit my dot!

The VCR became popular because porn producers started switching to videotape, abandoning film. Finally, you didn’t have to go to a movie theater for porn. You could “bring it home.” VHS beat out Betamax because the porn industry chose VHS. Really. No kidding. That’s the way it happened.

alf.image.com

alf.image.com

Porn money propelled other technologies, too. Online payments, DVDs, streaming video, and two-way internet chat rooms. Virtual Reality headsets have only been available for a few months and there’s already Virtual Reality Porn.

truvisionvr.com

truvisionvr.com

(I wouldn’t know this personally, but I read a lot).

So here’s the real story that everybody has missed.  One porn site blocked off an entire state. It has been viewed as a symbolic, but mostly useless protest.

What if they all did it?  What if all the porn sites got together and said to North Carolina: “NO PORN FOR YOU!”

no porn for you

I’ll bet you that anti-LGBT law would be overturned in about an hour and a half! Maybe less. Then, the porn industry would realize it’s true power! Imagine, Lysistrata on a national, even a global, scale!

dykiegirl.wordpress.com

dykiegirl.wordpress.com

“You won’t do what we want? NO PORN FOR YOU!” All the porn industry needs to do is come together. Organize.

Organize into a cartel.
A conglomerate
 A Ring.
lotr.wiki.com

lotr.wiki.com

“One ring to rule them all. One ring to find them.

One ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them.”

Pray they use their power for good.

ESCAPE FROM SPAMALOT

Back in the early 1990s, I donated $10 to a women’s group fighting to keep abortion legal and unencumbered. This $10 put me on the “potential donor” list of every single political organization from left to right. It was before the Internet really took over, so although it filled my mailbox with paper and killed a lot of trees, I could just throw the junk away.

Election day 2012

When we moved in 2000, most of the paper didn’t trail after us.

Some of us are slow learners. In 2011, I gave $3 to Obama’s campaign, and for the past four years, the amount of spam my tiny donation generated has been beyond belief.

Hickory-Smoke-SPAM

Apparently it’s policy for political parties to distribute our personal information to every pol and cause with whom they are even tangentially associated. It got to where my inbox had more than a thousand political spam messages every day. And the current presidential campaign hadn’t yet begun.

Last December, I blew up. I don’t know why I lasted as long as I did.

I spent an entire day unsubscribing to groups to which I never subscribed in the first place. These days, you don’t even have to sign or donate anything. All you have to do is visit a website. Someone will somehow grab your personal data and sell it. Which is how come I was targeted by all the parties. I was being spammed by Liberals, Democrats, Republicans, and Conservatives.

election-2016 head butt

It took me about 8 hours of clicking “unsubscribe.” Half of the sites asked me why I was unsubscribing. If I clicked “too much email,” they asked me if they sent less, would I stay subscribed?

If they had sent a lot less, I wouldn’t have needed to unsubscribe.

I unsubscribed to everything. Globally. From far left, to ultra right. My inbox stopped filling up every day.

Photo credit: CBS News

Photo credit: CBS News

A plague on all the houses. I won’t contribute to anyone’s cause or campaign. I won’t even visit their websites. And that’s a real shame because I used to really enjoy the political process and participating in it.

If anyone reading this is involved in political campaign management? You are your own worst enemies. Deluging supporters with junk mail and intrusive phone calls is a poor way to say “thank you.” It doesn’t get donations. It drives people away from your worthy causes.

You should think about this.

TRUMPED: REALITY, REALITY SHOWS, AND REAL TV – TOM CURLEY

Ellin and I were on a brief ski trip a couple of weeks ago up in Vermont. We learned three things.

  1. We are still not too old to ski.
  2. Gravity is a harsh mistress.
  3. It’s getting harder and harder to figure out what’s real and what’s not.

Let me explain.

We were on our trip on a Tuesday. One of the Super Tuesdays. I forget which one because they’re all Super now. We’re both fascinated by this incredibly bizarre presidential campaign, so of course we were watching …

house of cards

indiewire.com

House of Cards on Netflix. We love that show.

In between binge watching episode after episode, we’d check in on the (real) election coverage. And that’s when I noticed that on House of Cards, the characters are constantly on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, CBS This Morning, and so on. All this stuff is shot on the actual news sets with real people playing themselves — while reporting on a fictional presidential campaign.

I’m not going to reveal any spoilers, but this season’s episodes were filmed way before the actual election began. Despite this, the show (House of Cards) contains a lot of surprisingly prescient plot lines.

We sat there watching CNN, MSNBC, CBS and all the other news shows interview and talk with Frank Underwood as he brilliantly manipulates the government and the world to get whatever he wants.

Then we’d change the channel to watch CNN, MSNBC, CBS and all the other news shows talk — with Donald Trump — where they were debating whether or not Trump has a large penis.

trumphands

washingtonpost.com

Then, a bunch of pundits complained this (real) campaign is nothing more than a bad reality show. They are correct. The Republicans are currently trying to throw their leading candidate off the island, but inextricably, he keeps winning the immunity idol.

immunity idol.jpg

survivor.wikia.com

The other questions everyone keeps asking is “How did a reality show star end up running for President?”

Good question. But I know the answer.

It’s all Dan Quayle’s fault.

dan quayle

businessinsider.com

You remember Dan Quayle, the guy who was George Bush Senior’s Vice President, don’t you? Dan had a reputation for not being the sharpest pencil in the box.

He was famous for misspelling potato as “potatoe” at a campaign stop at an elementary school in 1992.

quayle potatoe

Dailyhaymaker.com

Most people have forgotten the other important thing he did.

He started a fight with Murphy Brown.

brown3

cloudpix.com

Murphy Brown was the fictional TV journalist and anchor. Played by Candice Bergen, she headed the cast in a 90’s sitcom about a fictional news show called FYI.

In one of the late seasons, she got pregnant and was going to be a single mother. Quayle gave a campaign speech (real) calling her out as being against “Family Values” because she didn’t have a husband. Murphy Brown was “mocking the importance of fathers” (an actual quote from Quayle’s speech).

quayle v brown2

uselectionatlas.org

Here’s where it got brilliant. The producers and writers of the show didn’t put out a statement denouncing his speech. They had Murphy Brown go after Quayle on the television show. It made front page headlines (real) all across the country.

quayle v brown1jpg

dykewriter

So, now you had Dan Quayle fighting with — and being mocked by — a fictional character on a fictional show. And he fought back. In real life.

Pretty much nobody said “Has anyone noticed the Vice President of the United States is fighting with A FICTIONAL TV CHARACTER ????”

No one appeared to notice. Or care.

That’s was the beginning of the end, when American politics started down the rabbit hole. What began as a real-life politician appearing on a fictional TV news show, morphed into fictional politicians on real TV news shows. And real news shows showing up on fictional TV shows.

And a bad reality host running for President of the United States.

In the real world.

At least I think it’s the real world. I’m not sure anymore. I used to have to take drugs to get this confused. Personally I’d rather watch House of Cards. It makes more sense.

To paraphrase a quote from one of my favorite movies, Galaxy Quest, our current reality is a poorly written episode. And it’s not over, not nearly.

WHO SHALL THEY CROWN?

A King Brothers Dilemma, by Rich Paschall


The meeting of the secret Political Action Committee formed by the King Brothers was about to conclude and no one was happy.  Two years earlier they had planned to capture the Congress and then the Presidency.  As luck would have it, they also saw the possibility of controlling the Supreme Court as well.

“Just imagine it,” Chauncey King said to his brother before the meeting, “we could control all three branches of government.  If that old guy did not drop dead at our resort last month, he would have given us what we needed.”  They still hoped to delay the next justice until they could actually influence the appointment.

While the Political committee had done a great job in the off-year election, their negative messages were beginning to backfire.  Since they had been telling the public for years that the capitol was a problem and the President’s party had to go, people naturally began to hate the workings of the capitol politicians, including many of their special congressmen.

Worse yet, the few they felt they could support for President were well behind in the polls and dropping out one by one.  A rogue candidate, not of the regular party, was leading in the caucuses and primaries by using the very negative rhetoric the King Brothers had been trying to perfect.

Over the past years, as the economy improved, the King Brothers dispatched their favorite politicians and “news reporters” to claim that things were still bad.  When gas prices went down, they blamed the President for lack of oil exploration.  When the stock market improved, they claimed the business climate was bad.  There was no positive story that they could not spin in a negative fashion.  As the country got better, they convinced people through campaigns and political “reporting” that things were worse than ever.

Now an outsider was taking over the party, contrary to their original scheme.  It did not seem the King Brothers and their billionaire friends could buy him off.  They also could not find a candidate strong enough to overtake the front-runner.  This meant the good old boys at the meeting could not be convinced to get behind just one candidate.  They had a LOT of money to spend on the campaign, just where should they spend it?  No candidate delighted a majority of the committee.

CC License

Wilford Washington Hotel

Rather than invite everyone back to a penthouse party as originally planned, the King Brothers said good night and headed  to their suite at the elegant Wilford Washington Hotel.  Others headed to their rooms or left for other accommodations in the nation’s capitol.  They were all in the top one per cent and could stay at the finest places.

Cal Rhodes, architect of the Congressional strategy just two years earlier, was pacing the penthouse floor when the King Brothers arrived.  The brothers could tell by his demeanor that Cal was not pleased.  They had seen this look after debates and primaries, so they knew things were not well.

When the campaign for President started, the boys felt they could manipulate a young Senator into place.  He was handsome and made a good first impression on people.  With some well placed ads, they thought he could charm his way to the top.  However, he could not stand up to the bombast of the front-runner and a few others and was forced to drop out when he got crushed in the primary of his home state.  Other candidates the brothers felt they wanted also dropped out, and they certainly did not like what was left at the top of the Leader Board.

The Final Rally

The Final Rally

“We might as well drink the Pierre Jouet,” Chauncey said of the wine that had been perfectly chilled while the meeting was taking place.  Derrick agreed and a servant, standing at the ready by the wine bucket, brought over two glasses.

“You should give Rhodes one too,” Derrick instructed.  “It looks like he needs it.”

Since the frontrunner of their party was not to their liking, Rhodes had developed a new strategy and the boys approved.  They dispatched the previous party candidate, as well as some well-chosen spokesmen, to go forth and try to prevent the leader from gaining enough delegates to win the nomination.

“A brokered convention will suit us well,” Derrick stated.  “We could even bring back one of the guys who has previously dropped out. We just need someone to sway opinion.  Truth doesn’t matter, you know, just victory.”  With that, they toasted and ordered another glass of the expensive French wine.

When Rhodes returned to the room after watching the latest speech of the front-runner and reading his tweets and social media proclamations, he stopped for more of the precious liquid from France.  He needed a large gulp before reporting the latest.

“So,” Chauncey started, “how does Mr. Bombast like our latest strategy?  Perhaps he sees we can deny him a first ballot victory at the convention.”

Rhodes looked rather pale and did not exactly know where to start.  “Well, it does not seem to bother him at all.  In fact, he told his supporters tonight that if he does not get a first ballot victory at the convention, he expects civil unrest not only outside the convention hall, but inside as well.”

Derrick set his drink down and stared at his brother for a long moment.  Their well crafted plan had blown away like a sand castle in a wind storm.  Finally he said, “Well Dr. Frankenstein, now what?”

Related: DEATH OF DEMOCRACY

ORIGINS AND FAMILY

A few years ago, I briefly had access to Ancestry.com. I traced my family back to the census of 1910, at which point, it ended. I could have pursued it further using other Jewish ancestry sites, but I knew where they would take me.

On my father’s side, the trail would end in Minsk around the turn of the 19th century. On my mother’s side, the trail would go cold in Tarnow, Poland at approximately the same time.

Bonnie and friend on the dirt path

We were neither important nor prominent. Not rich, famous, or especially learned. Regular people, trying to stay alive and out of the Czar’s army. Put food on the table. Occasionally have a belly laugh with friends and family.

Even if I could trace back another hundred years, it wouldn’t answer the real questions about where we began.

When Genghis Khan invaded what is now Russia and eastern Europe, how many babies were left in the wake of the Golden Horde? How many were left by Crusaders as they pillaged, raped, and plundered all the way from Britain to Jerusalem?

72-BW-Moon-CapeCod-102013-22

So many invasions, ejections, wars, migrations. How can anyone with even a trace of European or Asian ancestry think they are pure anything — other than human? Assuming current thinking on the origins of mankind are at all accurate, we all came from somewhere else in the beginning. Asia or Africa. Both, perhaps.

Or, somewhere else entirely?

72-BW-Tonal-GAR-Sunday-011016_168

Thinking about this brings me back to the current sad state of geopolitical mass hysteria and stupidity. We are — all of us — family. If we could trace our roots far enough into the mists of time, we would find each other. Cousins, even though many times removed.

We are one people. Despite skin color, eye-shape, and other “race” and “ethnicity” surface markers, we are enormously more the same than different.

72-bridge-ma-0731-25_084

So how come we hate each other so much? Why? What makes us want to hate one another? Why build walls instead of bridges?

THE LAST HURRAH: SURVIVING OUR POLITICS – GARRY ARMSTRONG

Election - 2016_election_banner_1

Marilyn stirs the pot for this piece on our political porridge — which is boiling over.

So many seemingly poor choices on the menu of presidential candidates. How do you choose without a four to eight year siege of mental Montezuma’s revenge?

The potty mouth exchanges between the Republican candidates are less and less funny with each passing day. It’s no longer Spring Training. They’re playing for keeps — with our baseballs.

John Ford’s classic, “The Last Hurrah”, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. It’s still very timely. I frequently used a clip from the film during my working years until it was suggested I was riding a dead horse.

I didn’t agree then and don’t agree now. Spencer Tracy, aka Frank Skeffington, aka James Michael Curley, explains how Politics has become a media show — the number one spectator sport in the land.

Garry-With-TipONeill

I knew many of the real life characters from the movie based on the popular novel about Boston politics. “Tip” O’Neill, the late, legendary Speaker of the House, was my friend, confidante, and muse. O’Neill frequently explained how he cut bi-partisan deals while orchestrating “good cop-bad cop” scenarios so no one looked bad on “the hill.”

O’Neill said he used an end-game big picture hand to win big political pots. He knew how to bluff the bully boys who didn’t know when to walk away from the game.

Today, there’s a lot of bluster from the bully boys. Who has the best hand? Some have already folded and walked away. The cards appear a bit grimy. Maybe they need a new deck.

Tip O’Neill urged me to always look and listen beyond the sound and fury. He smiled in recollection of the deals brokered while end-of-days threats filled Congress. Sadly, there are no Tip O’Neills today, but his advice about not yielding to the bully boys remains valid — and relevant.

When the rhetoric abates, it’s our duty to vote with intelligence — and not fold our hand.