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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

A Cast Of Characters: Live-Blogging The New York Gubernatorial Debate.

In Government, Politics on October 18, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Against my better judgment, I’ve decided to live-blog the New York Gubernatorial Debate happening right now. You can follow along on News 12 or NY1. Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino are being joined by five relatively unknown candidates, which is sure to make for a colorful conversation. For a quick primer on those Unknowns, click here.

And They’re Off | 7:06 p.m. The first question, posed to all candidates, asks what three or four programs you would cut. Paladino was first and gave an incoherent, gruff reply. Cuomo spoke and it was evident he has had some debate prep. The Unknowns may be unpolished, but they each spoke much more clearly than Paladino.

Zing! | 7:15 p.m. Kristin Davis caps her 30-second follow-up on program cuts by saying that additional taxes will make “businesses leave the state quicker than Carl Paladino at a gay bar.” I’ll guarantee it was written ahead of time, but that won’t stop it from making the highlight reel.

What’s That Accent? | 7:23 p.m. Howie Hawkins is the Green Party man, but he sounds like Boss Hog. Where in New York do you get that accent? I’ve been around most of the state and it’s new to me. Read the rest of this entry »

Warren Piece.

In Politics on October 15, 2010 at 10:30 am

This may be the best email I’ve ever received:

From: Warren Redlich <wredlich@gmail.com>
To: briefwit@gmail.com
Subject: Interview?

Hi. I just read your interview with Roger Stone. I’m not nearly as
interesting, but I am running for Governor of NY and Roger hates me.
Would you like to interview me?

Warren

Wow. What would you do? A boring and potentially unlikeable interview subject? Sounds like a losing combination. Naturally, I had to speak with him.

First things first though, I circled the Internet wagons for information on him.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Book(s).

In Politics, Religion on September 24, 2010 at 8:08 am

I heard something fascinating yesterday that I had to share. I was listening to the DoubleX Gabfest on Slate, a regular discussion of current cultural, social, and political issues with a woman’s slant, and something jumped out at me. You may be wondering how I got away with listening to the DoubleX Gabfest in the first place. It was pretty tough. I had to keep my Y chromosome quiet and hidden behind my X for a half-hour so I didn’t blow my cover. Suffice it to say, I dabble to keep my media diet balanced with progressive proteins and conservative carbs. Independents serve as roughage.

As I was listening I found that a point they made, (really as a tangent), struck me as so apt that I essentially have to regurgitate it.

Like many this last week, they were discussing the rise of Christine O’Donnell in the Delaware Senate race and her brand of right wing politics in general. It began with Emily Bazelon, who is pretty much the big sister I never had, extrapolating from O’Donnell and other prominent Tea Party members’ general orientation towards the Constitution. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s The Economy, Genius.

In Economy, Politics, Television on September 21, 2010 at 8:40 am

Monday at noon, President Obama sat with John Harwood and a town hall audience for an hour at the Newseum in Washington to discuss the economy live on CNBC. Talk about stretching it out. CNBC took a rolling pin to that hour’s worth of content and spread it out over multiple dayparts. The morning preview/speculation coverage was already well underway at 9:00AM on Squawk on the Street and the screen was adorned with obligatory countdown clock to boot.

Leading up to the event, regional focus group viewing panels were asked for their opinions. Pundits pundited. Correspondents corresponded. “What do traders and bankers want to hear?” “It’s live… what if some question comes out of left field, I mean, the market is open!?” Afterwards, they did it all over again, but this time at least with clips, something to go on. And for twice as long. C’est la media.

So, what about the actual town hall? Well, it was pretty candid. On both sides. Definitely from the questioners, arguably from the president. The audience was respectful, if not deferential and admiring, but visibly shaken and frustrated by their collective lot in life.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Lowdown Down Under.

In Government, Politics, Travel on September 13, 2010 at 7:05 am

It was looking a bit touch-and-go there, but Australia has solved a parliamentary deadlock after a too close to call election on August 21.

Julia Gillard has found a way forward that will solidify her as the first female prime minister in Australian history. Take that, Hillary! That’s right, she’s broken through the glass floor. (Y’know, since the’yre Down Under, their floor is our ceiling.) Gillard, of the Labor Party, has been prime minister for a few months now, but that ascent came about as a bi-product of parliament taking the boot to her predecessor, more like Ford taking over for Nixon, but without the criminal cover-up. This current election, though close, offers her more legitimacy.

It’s just as well, because it looks like the guy she ran against, Tony Abbott, is not that good at math: his economic projections were off by about $10 billion. Also, his party needs to get better at naming things, such as itself. “Abbott’s Liberal Party represents the conservative spectrum in Australian politics, despite its name.” He also fondly refers to Australia as Up Above. It’s very disorienting. Read the rest of this entry »

Carolyn, No.

In Media, Politics on August 26, 2010 at 7:50 am

It’s taken some two months of bickering (and felt like six) but Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has finally agreed to debate challenger Reshma Saujani a week before the September 14th primary for New York’s 14th District. Thanks to Celeste Katz at the Daily News for being beyond patient in continuing to cover this topic. This is terrific news, the East Side of Manhattan and Queens will have its first debate in eons. File into the auditorium, dim the lights, dab on some makeup, and let the cameras roll. I hope Gabe Pressman comes out of the woodwork for this one!

Wait–what’s that you say? The debate’s not going to be on TV? Why not?

Can I even go see it in person, Lincoln/Douglas style? No!? Then, where is it? And how will we know who is wearing the infamous Kate Spade wedge?

It’s on the radio? What’s that, some doohickey that emits live podcasts? Sounds experimental.

Well, okay. I suppose I can just sit down and listen to it after I eat dinner, brandy snifter in hand in my favorite chair. Huh? It’s on in the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday? But who can listen to it then? Read the rest of this entry »

A Weird Wedge.

In Politics on August 22, 2010 at 10:35 pm

What do Newt Gingrich, Howard Dean, Sarah Palin, and Harry Reid all have in common? Did I hear, “They will all never be president?” Hopefully, but we were looking for, “They all oppose the mosque being built a few blocks from Ground Zero.” Newt is so opposed, he brought out this cute baby polar bear to bolster his position. Actually, that’s just the tenth result when you Google Image Search “newt gingrich mosque.”

What do Barack Obama, newly independent Florida Governor/Senate candidate Charlie Crist, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie all have in common? “Their names are overtly Christey?” Nope, but two out of three ain’t a bad guess. Actually, they’re all on the flip side of the mosque debate, favoring or acquiescing to its construction.

Then, there is a cohort of pols In the middle. Mitch McConnell proved to be uber-cautious with his “no comment” reply. Nancy Pelosi, for some reason, channeled Deep Throat on this issue and quixotically told the press to “Follow the money.” Recently yelling new husband Anthony Weiner (though luckily not at his wife but at bass ackwards Republicans who oppose a real 9/11 issue, the health of WTC responders) displayed a stance that is virtually indecipherable in its ambiguous language. Read the rest of this entry »

Leisure Crime.

In Economy, Media, Politics on August 11, 2010 at 11:50 am

There’s been a recurring narrative in the major publications and cable news channels about the Obamas’ leisure time: that they’re  wasting or abusing taxpayer money to enjoy life outside of the White House, or that they’re doing so in the “wrong” place. Their date in Manhattan, their recent trip to Maine, their plans to spend a week in Martha’s Vineyard; all have drawn criticism.

This week has seen renewed hubbub since Michelle Obama took Sasha to Spain for a few days. She is paying for all the things you and I would pay for if we were going (hotel room, meals, and transportation) but of course being First Lady comes with a hefty Secret Service entourage, not to mention a secure private jet. I’ll admit that this trip seems much more lavish than a Cosby ShowWomen‘s Day” with Clair and Rudy, but whatever. (I wonder if Michelle is also telling Sasha, “Your father and I are rich. YOU have nothing!”)

I don’t fault Michelle for this. The first family shouldn’t be held to account for the modern realities of protection: I’m sure she would love to whisk Sasha away and disappear down the calles of España alone for a weekend.

Read the rest of this entry »

Shame Doesn’t Work Like It Used To.

In Politics on August 2, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Fresh off my “Qantas leap” from Australia, with my circadian rhythms still a bit off-tempo, I’ve taken renewed notice of the ethics charges against prominent Democratic House members Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters. If they had their druthers, liberals would hit them and others hard over this. But of course, expedience is trumping morality. (Fear not, a piece on the parallels between Aussie and US history is still in the cards.)

It used to be that you just had to look out for the usual suspects in politics. As George Carlin said, “Smug, greedy, well-fed white people [who] have created a language to conceal their sins.” But corruption is no longer limited to the good ‘ol boys. Sure, old white men are the stereotype, and still the majority of our legislators, but they are not alone in their shadowy dealings. Today it is apparently old black people who wear reading glasses that we should be watching.

Rangel’s appearance makes Al Sharpton look classy. Plus he has the voice of a Jewish grandmother. I half-expect him to offer me more rugelach every time he talks. “Oh and make sure to try the hamantashen, bubbelah!”

Read the rest of this entry »

Whole Lotta Gov.

In Government, Politics on July 14, 2010 at 9:31 am

The presidency aside, politically, being a governor is the best place to be… right?

You run a big organization, so you can claim executive experience. You get to make important decisions on your own and not be bogged down by opponents digging through your voting record, so you can claim you’re your own man or woman. And best of all, you get to not be in Washington, so you can claim yourself as an outsider to the shady business perpetually presumed to occur there. Plus, there is the awesome linguistic anomaly “gubernatorial” that you get to keep close at hand for when things get dicey. Don’t eff with it.

Republican governors have it even better. They’re supposed to believe in the sanctity and superiority of state government and states’ rights, so they can claim blanket disavowal and widespread disapproval of all manner of DC doings. In keeping with that, they frequently exercise wild abandon provoking or unleashing invective at the Establishment (when that Establishment is Democrats). Texas’ captain of the capitol, Rick Perry, exemplified this most inspiringly in threatening to take his Lone Star and secede last fall. His bold proposition made me long for the days when all Texas governors did was ignore a ringing phone on the day of a lethal injection. Read the rest of this entry »