Friday, June 27, 2008

Unity: Not just a town in New Hampshire

I just watched the video clips of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (which is what those hot links go to) from their joint appearance earlier today in Unity, New Hampshire (where they each scored 107 votes during the New Hampshire primary -- go Unity!), and may I just say, Hillary looked absolutely stunning in royal blue (or maybe we should rename that shade of blue "Hillary blue" or "Democratic blue").

Looking at Barry and Hill together, hugging, smiling, mugging for the cameras, I thought to myself, they make such a nice couple. (But I still don't think Obama should pick Clinton to be his vice presidential running mate. Attorney General, yes; VP, no.)

Sarcasm aside, it was refreshing to listen to two such eloquent speakers (even as I kept imagining, in some 1960s-style dream-sequence-type special effect, Hillary strangling Barack or shrieking "I was supposed to be the candidate! It's not too late! You fools, forget about Obama and nominate me!").

So here's to Unity -- an inspired setting for this first joint campaign stop. Though may I suggest that if Bill Clinton comes around and decides to campaign with Obama, they avoid Intercourse, Pennsylvania.

(Photo credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Just dance your cares away

Forget the crashing stock market, the soaring price of oil, that your house is probably not worth as much as when you bought it and those sky-high mortgage payments, the 100-years' wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that we still have more than four months to go in the presidential campaign, or that there is another two months until the little darlings go back to school and you can't remember the last time you had nookie with your spouse.

Just be like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly (or the late Cyd Charisse) and simply dance your cares away!

And what better way to dance away the pain and agony of everyday life, I say, than with a tango? In this case, the "Masochism Tango," as sung by the great Tom Lehrer. (Need inspiration? Just imagine you and your amour are Brad and Angelina a la "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" and have at it.)


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On religion and politics

The original intent of separating Church from State (or vice versa) was to keep government out of religion. Religion, believed Founding Father Thomas Jefferson (and others), was a very personal matter, one which the government had no business getting involved in.

Now, however, it is often the State and politicians who need protection from the Church, or more accurately those who believe that where or how one prays to God (or which god or no god) should be the or a major deciding factor in choosing a President. And I find this both distressing and depressing.

Which brings me to today's article in The New York Times titled "Muslim Voters Detect a Snub from Obama." For MONTHS now the media has been regurgitating information from surveys that reveal that some 10 percent of Americans (I do not have the latest number, but that's the last one I heard) think Obama is a "secret Muslim" (he isn't). At the same time these same people (as well as many others) chastise Obama for staying at Trinity United Church of Christ (that's Christ people, in case you missed it, as in Jesus Christ) while it was led by the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, who, as we all know said some very inflammatory things (which spiritual leaders never do, right?).

Whether The Times's assertions are true or not (and Obama staffers say they are not), can anyone really blame Obama for not stumping at mosques or seeming too chummy with Muslims in the current anti-Muslim-post-9/11-Iraq-War world we live in?

We the people have created an impossible (intolerable?) situation for Barack Hussein Obama. Literally, he is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't, worship- or religion- or appearance-wise, by pick your religious group. It's enough to make a guy a Unitarian or a Buddhist, though I am sure either move would cause even more outcry.

But the bigger point is -- or should be: Why does anyone care? When did religious affiliation or how many times or where or how one prays, if one does at all, become a leading factor in determining who is "fit" to be President? Shouldn't we be picking a president based on, oh, things like capability, and/or experience, and/or intelligence, and/or grasp of the major issues facing this country and its people, and/or ability to unite and lead people?

Interestingly, on Monday, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released its second report on the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, which, according to the press release (which contains the report's main findings and is a good, relatively quick read), finds that "Politics and religion in the United States are intertwined, and religion is highly relevant to understanding politics in the U.S." No shit.

This great country of ours is supposed to be a shining light in terms of religious freedom. The United States Information Agency even has a Web site called "Principles of Democracy," with an entire section on "Freedom of Religion." Read it -- and try not to weep.

ADDENDUM: George Carlin, who died this past Sunday, and will sorely be missed, had this to say about religion and governance (or politics).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Who will "Meet the Press" on Sunday mornings?

I think more than enough has been said and written about Tim Russert, the very popular host of "Meet the Press," and the Washington Bureau Chief for NBC News, who died unexpectedly the afternoon of Friday, June 13. That said, I am going to add my (brief) thoughts on Mr. Russert and "Meet the Press" to the blogosphere anyway.

I first heard about Tim Russert's untimely passing while driving into D.C. the afternoon of June 13, literally minutes after his death had been announced. My first reaction was disbelief: How could this larger than life figure be dead? But by the time I made it to my hotel, having listened to NPR say it again and again, I realized it was true.

Like many people, my spouse and I referred to "Meet the Press" simply as "Russert," as in, "Who's on 'Russert' this Sunday?" or "Did you happen to catch any of 'Russert' Sunday?" Unable to watch at home, due to a young child who required my undivided attention, I have, over the years, timed my Sunday gym visits specifically so I could watch most of "Meet the Press" or timed laundry folding so I could watch at least some of it.

When it came to election coverage, I tended to watch (and still do) NBC or MSNBC, in large part due to Tim Russert (though I also enjoy the verbal stylings and political acumen of Tom Brokaw, Brian Williams, who is hosting the show today, David Gregory, Andrea Mitchell, Mike Barnicle, and most recently Rachel Maddow, all of whom are MSNBC regulars).

My spouse and I even occasionally watched Russert's one-on-one interview show (whose name escapes me and which I cannot find by Googling) which aired on Saturday nights. I didn't always agree with Russert, but he was the best game in town if the game was politics or political punditry.

When I went to the Newseum that Saturday morning (something everyone visiting D.C. who cares about history or journalism should do), I was somewhat surprised to see they had already erected a Tim Russert memorial in the lobby. And you couldn't turn on cable TV -- or read a paper or listen to NPR -- without hearing someone talking about him.

Watching and listening to all these heartfelt tributes and recollections, it struck me: this man was truly loved. LOVED. Not in that superficial, "love ya," double-air-kiss kind of way but in the I-can't-imagine-life-or-Sundays-without-you kind of way. His colleagues loved him. His family loved him. His friends loved him. And his hometown of Buffalo, NY. They all LOVED him -- and he them. In this day and age of "what have you done for me lately" or "what are you going to do for me" friendships, especially within the Beltway, that was -- and is -- truly remarkable.

Watching Mike Barnicle's eulogy during the memorial service held at the Kennedy Center Wednesday afternoon, I found myself wishing (praying?) that someone, some day would speak as eloquently and as lovingly and as humorously of me when I died. (Maria Shriver's eulogy, on the other hand, I thought was was rather self-serving and a bit mean, though I am sure Shriver thought it was witty and cute.)

As for "Meet the Press," while it may be "crass," as many folks have said or written to think about replacing Russert already, let's get real. While no one can "replace" Russert, the show needs a regular host, preferably someone with serious political chops who can remain neutral.

This article from I thought did a nice job of running down "some names that have been raised amid the speculative chatter" re who should take over as moderator of "Meet the Press," including many -- namely Tom Brokaw, Andrea Mitchell, and Gwen Ifill -- who I think would do a good job, too. (I would also add Rachel Maddow to the list, though as a left-leaning/Liberal lesbian, I doubt she has much of a chance, but go ahead NBC and prove me wrong. And I would immediately cross off Joe Scarborough, Chris Matthews, and Keith Olbermann, who are all too opinionated, for better or worse. And while I liked her on "The Today Show," I do not think Katie Couric would be a good choice either.)

No matter who becomes the new moderator, however, though I am curious to see how Brian Williams does this morning, the rest of this election cycle will not be the same without Timothy Joseph Russert.

SUNDAY 11:30 AM UPDATE: As I was working out on the elliptical trainer at the gym, flipping channels during a commercial break on "Meet the Press," CNN announced that Tom Brokaw would be taking over moderator duties on "Meet the Press" through the 2008 presidential election. I think it is a great choice (though Brian Williams did a fine job this morning, though I think he went a bit easy on Biden and Graham). Welcome, Mr. Brokaw.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What men -- and women -- really want

Sure, guys want sex, booze, sports, and fast cars, but what do they really want? A woman who knows how to iron clothes and will do the dishes.

This point was driven home recently (though not in a Ferrari) in this missive from Reuters about a man in Italy who kidnapped an ex-girlfriend and forced her to iron his shirts and do his dishes.

Is anyone really surprised, though? I mean, most guys can find someone who will have sex with them, if they try hard enough, but a woman who can iron? Priceless.

On a related note... A number of studies have shown "that women have more sex with men who do more work around the house than with those who don't do their share," as reported in this article on

The author of the piece, Lloyd Garver, continues, "Men doing housework is, evidently, a kind of aphrodisiac for women... but... If this is true, instead of showing photos of... 'hot' young men in bathing suits in magazines designed for women's viewing pleasure, why not just show pictures of guys vacuuming the house?" To which I say, bring it on!

(I don't know about all of you, but I feel frisky just looking at that image. ; )

Monday, June 16, 2008

Something's brewing at DNC convention... Utah town comes unstrung at thought of bikinis... More...

As many of you beer devotees and/or politicos may have heard, Molson Coors is donating fuel made from beer to the Democratic National Convention this summer.

Apparently, Molson Coors is not only one of the world's largest brewers (making, among other brews, Molson, Coors, and one of my favorites, Blue Moon) but a large producer of beer-based ethanol. And lest any of you worry about perfectly good beer not being put to proper use, calm yourselves. Molson Coors ethanol "is made from beer lost during packaging [visions of Lucy filching chocolates off the assembly line are now dancing in my head] or rejected on a quality basis at the company’s brewery in Golden," according to an AP report.

On a related note, Molson Coors will also be providing beer to convention goers, which has fueled speculation that some may not know the difference.

In other news... The town of Kanab, Utah, is considering lifting its recent ban on bikinis, claiming the ban was unintentional. "We were so engrossed with safety and health issues we overlooked the wording," said a town official, according to an AP report. (Note to self: How do I become an AP reporter? Those guys are having waaaay too much fun.)

Of course. Doesn't everyone thinking about health and safety issues immediately think "first ban the bikinis"? Though considering some of the over-30 bikini wearers I've seen (both male and female), the folks in Kanab may be onto something (or at least doing the public a service).

Now, however, due to intense pressure, town officials are planing on rescinding the ban -- yet are warning locals that they will still be keeping a sharp eye out for string bikinis and thongs. Yeah, I bet they will. (Per town officials, bikinis made with a large quantity of material, like muumuus?, are OK, as are men's Speedos. No word yet about excessive chest or back hair or medallions.)

And this just in (from the Associated Press, naturally): "Bitch Screwed by Judge, Barking Mad." Okay, that was my headline, which I didn't feel I should put in the title, though it's true. The story: apparently a Manhattan surrogate judge has ruled that Trouble, the late Leona Helmsley's beloved (albeit troublesome) Maltese, who is now nine, will now only have a $2 million trust fund, not a $12 million one. And where is that $10 million going, you ask? According to the report, it is going (or has gone) to the Helmsley's charitable foundation, proving, once again, that life really is a bitch, in more ways than one.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Weiner Sticks Up for Foreign Models

Thank you, Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) for trying to help give a boost to New York's fashion industry by sticking up for the downtrodden and discriminated against -- by which, I mean, of course, foreign-born supermodels, who "must compete against computer geeks, doctors and other brainiacs for H-1B visas, generally reserved for the 'highly specialized,'" according to an article in today's New York Daily News. (My heart positively bleeds for Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who made $33 million in 2007, compared to the paltry $5 million earned by top American model Carolyn Murphy. And poor Heidi Klum...)

You can read more about Congressman Weiner's courageous fight to bring more (up to 1,000) foreign-born hotties to his Brooklyn, NY district in this article from Politico.

I think I speak for American men everywhere when I say, God bless you, Anthony Weiner. (Though really, dude, don't you and the House of Representatives have better things to legislate?)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

A Game of Cat and Mouse

This is what happens...

To unwelcome visitors...

When they try to sneak into our house.*

(Sorry. No photo of my donning yellow Playtex gloves, scooping the critter up in a plastic bag, and depositing the not-so-dearly departed in the woods.)

* I think the Obama campaign would be well advised to get a few felines.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Top 10 Reasons Barack Obama Should Not Choose Hillary Clinton as His Running Mate

10. She'd be better off as governor of New York, where they could really use a governor who can keep her pants on.
9. You'll have to keep an eye on White House furnishings and gifts you receive.
8. Hugh and Tony Rodham
7. Racing to see who will answer the phone when it rings at 3 a.m. can be a real drag.
6. Never choose a running mate who can out shoot and out drink you.
5. Ask Al Gore how it felt to have her around.
4. Do you really want Michelle saying "I told you so" for the next four years?
3. Do you really want to hear "There you go again, Barry" for the next four years?
2. People will wonder who really wears the pants in the White House.

And the number one reason Barack Obama should not choose Hillary Rodham Clinton as his running mate...
1. Bill Clinton (If Hill couldn't control Bubba, what makes you think you can? You think he's going to sit tight over at the Naval Observatory or back in Chappaqua? Then you don't know Bill. Nor do you want to be mixed up with a potential Bill Clinton Librarygate scandal.)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Greetings from Stepford, where all the mommies are beautiful

So the other day I'm watching The Colbert Report when M. Colbert holds up a book titled My Beautiful Mommy by Michael Salzhauer, M.D.

At first I think, ha ha! That's funny! Those wacky folks over at The Colbert Report (who have yet to send me two tickets to see the show -- bastards!) mocked up a book for kids about mommies getting plastic surgery and how mommy is way prettier now that she has a new nose, a flatter tummy, and bigger breasts. What a riot!

The only problem is, it isn't a joke. The book is for real.

Here is the "detailed description" provided by the publisher, Big Tent Books:

"Dr. Michael Salzhauer, a renowned plastic surgeon, wrote My Beautiful Mommy to help patients explain their transformation to their children. The story guides children through Mommy's surgery and healing process in a friendly, nonthreatening way."

But before you rush out and buy it for the kids (or your wife), check out this "review" of My Beautiful Mommy (which came out on Mother's Day no less -- the book, that is, not the article) by Newsweek writer Karen Springen.

Thanks to Ms. Springen, I now know that "according to the latest numbers from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, breast augmentation was the most popular cosmetic surgery procedure last year, with 348,000 performed (up 6 percent over 2006). Of those, about one-third were for women over 40 who often opt for implants to restore lost volume in their breasts due to aging or pregnancy weight gain. There were 148,000 tummy tucks—up 1 percent from the previous year."

(Forget getting plastic surgery when you are older kids! You need to become plastic surgeons!)

And guess what? These makeover mommies are bringing their impressionable tots to the doctor's office with them. Which is what led Dr. Salzhauer, who hails from one of the nation's capitals of plastic surgery, Bal Harbour, Florida, to create his book.

While some "experts" who have read the book say it does children and their moms a great service, it also does both a disservice as Dr. Salzhauer doesn't go into any medical details. Oh no. That would be, how shall I put it, ugly.

Nor does the book discuss the risks of plastic surgery. Or the fact that you have to get "touch ups" every few years. Nor does it suggest that mommy should be happy with how she looks and is sending a very bad message to little Jimmy, who will now expect all women to be perfect, or little Janey, who will now wonder if her belly button is pretty enough or her breasts big enough (when she finally gets breasts).

Here is another quote from the Newsweek article:

""My Beautiful Mommy" is aimed at kids ages four to seven and features a plastic surgeon named Dr. Michael (a musclebound superhero type) and a girl whose mother gets a tummy tuck, a nose job and breast implants. Before her surgery the mom explains that she is getting a smaller tummy: "You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn't fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better." Mom comes home looking like a slightly bruised Barbie doll with demure bandages on her nose and around her waist."

Hey lady, how about exercising and/or eating healthier? But why take the "hard" way when there is Dr. Feelgood telling you he can make you look like a Barbie doll in just a few hours?

Btw, I do believe plastic surgery has its place, especially when done for reconstructive or medical reasons. But this whole idea of the "mommy makeover" reminds me too much of a Twilight Zone episode.

Yes, we could all look a little better. And while I wouldn't mind having a little more bosom and fewer wrinkles (and being a few inches taller, though I can't do anything about that), I'm going to instead remind myself -- and my 10-year-old daughter -- that real beauty lies within.