Friday, August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin

Like just about everybody, I don't know much about her.  But what I do know is that the first Democratic response to her selection was absolutely stupid:
"Today, John McCain put the former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience a heartbeat away from the presidency."
If they thought this one through, they'd realize that McCain just handed them a major gift on a silver platter.  

How on earth can he now criticize Obama's lack of experience, when he is tacitly suggesting that Palin is qualified to be president with even less experience?  Oh, they'll say that she has "executive" experience -- but this is just bullshit.  I mean, no offense to Alaska, but how does being governor for all of 2 years of a state with a population smaller than Memphis, Tennessee and an economy smaller than Sudan's trump Obama's resume as a US Senator and Illinois legislator? I think McCain just fumbled his strongest argument against Obama.

Something else seems a bit strange in Palin's resume.  She gave birth to a son with Down's Syndrome just 4 months ago after hiding the pregnancy from the public for most of the baby's term.  A little weird that she would be willing to head out on the campaign trail with a 4 month old handicapped kid in the house.  Odd.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Six Reasons Why You Shouldn't Vote For McCain

6. He's a pugilist, not a leader. He has thrived as a "maverick" by challenging from outside the centers of power. He pokes powerful and cynical politicians in the eye. He's an insurgent. But, like Castro or Robert Mugabe, insurgents can get kind of deranged when they win. I don't think he knows how to lead. I think he knows how to resist. It's the legacy of his captivity, perhaps.

5. He's a Cold War relic. Look at his recent saber-rattling rhetoric on Georgia. He called it "the first probably serious crisis internationally since the end of the Cold War." Er, 9/11 wasn't serious? The rise of modern China wasn't serious? His old-school fear of Soviet Russia is going to get us committed to extending the NATO umbrella to all these idiotic places that are really not in our strategic purview. Like Georgia. I mean, I comprehend the strategic rationale for the expenditure of blood and treasure in Iraq way before I get the rationale for the Caucasus. We've got bigger problems than Russia's mischief along its southern border -- how about a nuclear Pakistan becoming a nearly failed state, a beehive of lunatic Islam and reactionary tribalism? This man's world view was formed at the height of US-Soviet tensions. I don't believe his instincts are relevant or helpful to solving modern global problems.

4. He is kind of dumb and doesn't appear to have a strong commitment to excellence. Finished 894th out of the 899 students in his class at the U.S. Naval Academy -- which, while a fine school, is probably top 100 academically rather than top 10 (a recent survey put it at #79). His application to the War College was rejected, and he only managed to gain acceptance through the intercession of his family (see reason #3, below).  He stumbled like a bumpkin into the savings and loan scandals. He surrounds himself with mediocre people. And he's horrible when speaking impromptu -- vis the "how many houses?" gaffe. He starts every sentence with "My friends ..." and ends every sentence with his mouth contorted in a rictus of yellowed dentures. It's creepy.

3. He is dishonest about his personal history. This guy is Johnny Nepotism -- his daddy and granddaddy were Navy admirals, who made sure he followed in the family trade. The reason his captivity in Vietnam got all the attention and infusion of symbolic meaning that it did was because his father orchestrated it, brought the press into the story. There were many heroic POWs in Vietnam but somehow McCain became the poster boy for defiant resistance. He came back, fucked over his first wife, caroused around like a frat boy, found a rich, vapid second wife, and -- shocker! -- had her beer distributor father bankroll his political career. He's the opposite of self-made.

2. He's out of touch with America. Oh, he's in touch with those flag-wavers at the VFW, and all the pathetic conservatives who have been looking for a replacement father-figure after Ronald Reagan died. But the real America, the one with massive debt problems, an energy crisis, an innovation economy based on the internet, bad public education and health care -- he doesn't know fuck all about that America. I don't know about you, but I don't live in the flag waving VFW America. And I suspect you don't either.

1. He is simply too old. Think about it for a moment, he'll be 72 when he's sworn in. I recognize that the aged have much to contribute to American society. But have you had any recent contact with a 72 year old man? No offense, but if you were looking for a CEO for a troubled company that was facing a tough economy and increased foreign competition, you would not be recruiting a man in his 70's. I've heard this boomer propaganda for decades about 50 being the new 40, and 60 being the new 50. But 70 is the old 70. The brain slows down. The thought processes get cemented in place. The energy levels drop. Against the backdrop and demands of a 21st century presidency -- in an era of 24 hour news cycles and globalization -- I will say it categorically right now: McCain is too old to be president.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fulham FC

Ok, I'm a Fulham supporter. I know, it's slightly pathetic. But like many FFC supporters, I have a story.

In the early '80s I spent a summer living with my friend Hamish McAlpine (now the head of Tartan Films and a great supporter of transgressive, psychotronic cinema) and his entourage in London. At the time, Hamish lived pretty far down the King's Road near the Fulham-Broadway tube station, a good walk past the World's End pub -- in fact, quite a bit closer to Fulham town than to Sloan Square. A couple of years later, Hamish had relocated to tonier digs on the Cheyne Walk, next door to Mick Jagger, and I had the fond memory of my summer, drinking in Fulham pubs.

In the early '80s, Chelsea FC were not even in the Premiership -- they were a decent Division 2 team. Fulham, a middle-of-the-table Division 3 team, were about to make their first magic run, achieving promotion to Division 2 in the '81-82 season, then the next year missing out on promotion to the Premiership by just one point (and finishing 14 positions above Chelsea in the table!).

In those pre-internet and pre-Fox Soccer Channel days, you couldn't be much of a supporter of a lower division European club from the USA. But I was always happy to see Fulham doing well, and sorry, later in the the '80s and early '90s, when they headed for relegation to Division 4. I lost track of them, and was only vaguely aware of their acquisition by Mohamed Al-Fayed (the owner of Harrod's) in '97 and their subsequent promotion to the Premiership in '00-'01.

What brought me back was the combination of greater TV access to matches through Setanta and Fox, access to Premiership news on the internet, and Fulham manager Chris Coleman's infatuation with American players after the acquisition of McBride and Bocanegra in early '04 (at one point, Fulham had five on the roster: McBride, Boca, Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, and Keller). After a couple of over-achieving seasons under Coleman, during which Fulham consistently finished in the middle of the Premiership table, they began to falter. Last season, it looked like they were going down for sure.

Then came the "Great Escape." Under new manager Roy Hodgson, Fulham were 7 points in the drop zone with 4 matches to play. Miraculously, they won their last three in a row, twice on the road (where they had been woeful all season), including the astonishing comeback from 2 goals down at Man City, scoring 3 times in the last 20 minutes.

The Premiership season opened last weekend, and hapless Fulham looked inept once again in a 2-1 away loss to recently-promoted Hull City, throwing away an early lead. It looked like another year of frustration and relegation battles. But this week, hosting Arsenal, it was a different Fulham team on the field. With tough tackling and good possession play (at least most of the time) Fulham held off Arsenal's late surge to win 1-0.

The Fulham optimist looks at the upcoming fixtures, sees some winnable matches: they have West Ham, West Brom, Sunderland, Pompey and Wigan all before they run into the better sides in late November and through the winter. With a little luck and some draws on the road, they could get to 20 points by the mid-point, halfway to the magic number that will insure they remain in the top flight for another season. It's precisely that irrational belief that we'll catch a break and stay up that seems to characterize the Cottager supporters -- and it was certainly given a jolt to the good with today's result against Arsenal. COYW!