Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Inheritance of Mad Men

Betty Draper (January Jones) begins to face the reality of her father Gene’s stroke and his onset of dementia or failing memory. She is under no illusions that she does not need Don (Jon Hamm) and calls him at his hotel to join her on a visit to Gene’s house. Betty is growing more aware of her circumstances and who she really is. She demonstrates that in her communication of new limits and boundaries to Don.

The recap below contains plot spoilers about Season 2, Episode 10: "The Inheritance." If you haven't seen Episode 10 check out the Mad Men Schedule to see when we're airing encore presentations or download it on iTunes.

Betty and Don quickly arrive at Gene Hofstadt’s (Ryan Cutrona) house where he tellingly confuses Betty for her similar-looking dead mother – Ruth (the pretty woman in the portrait). Betty tells her brother William (Eric Ladin) to “stop counting other people’s money”; it is evident that familial vultures are circling. The family awkwardly confronts Gene’s decline.

Betty recognizes the situation and she asserts herself with Don. We hear her new-found voice tell him to “stop it…nobody is watching.” We see her send Don away from their home with his suitcase: “Nothing’s changed. We were just pretending” and not really making love at her father Gene’s. Yet in Betty’s heart, she knows she relies on Don for personal and parental support. The decision to divorce is heavier than the property. Betty admits, “Sometimes I think I’ll float away if Don isn’t holding me down.”

The later encounter with run-away Glen Bishop (Marten Holden Weiner) reinforces the precarious status and doubled responsibilities of a divorced parent carrying for children. Glen is acting out and displaying anger (“I hate you”) because his mother Helen Bishop (Darby Stanchfield) cannot properly care for him or be attentive enough to meet Glen’s growing psychological needs as an early adolescent.

Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) resists the notion of adopting a child with Trudy. His mother even threatens disinheritance. The irony is that the father’s inheritance is empty because the father spent all the money – “spent it with stranger.”

Paul Kinsey (Michael Gladis) gets bumped from the California convention trip by Don Draper. He joins girlfriend Sheila (Donielle Artese) along with Negro (in those days) Freedom Riders on a bus to Mississippi. That makes him a “fellow traveler” in the anti-Communist lexicon on the day. They ride down to low and dark regions -- the “scary” zone – with high purpose to register voters. They travel into the Sixties without knowledge or experience of where America is headed. Meanwhile Don and Pete Campbell fly off to the golden Pacific on the musical sounds of the satellite “Telstar.”

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mad Men’s Six-Month Leave

MANHATTAN, New York October 1, 2008 >> mad men virtuality ©ML Duby

“Stop dining on the drama of other people’s lives like teenage girls.”
– Don Draper

On the other hand, now that we’re here, we might as well enjoy the Mad Men crew indulging their usual barrel of drink. We’ll sample a few hor'dourves and chat before the main course. Unfortunately, one of our regulars – Freddy – over-imbibes to the point of literally pissing himself. Let’s be clear about the Mad Men equation of consequences...after the disclaimer, of course.

DISCLAIMER: The essay below contains plot spoilers about Season 2, Episode 9: "Six Month Leave." If you haven't seen that episode, check out the Mad Men schedule on amctv.com to see when encore presentations are airing or download it from iTunes.

Freddy Rumsen (Joel Murray) is sent on a one-way out, “six-month leave of absence from which he won’t return” (Roger Sterling – John Slattery) because the “man is a train wreck” (Duck Philips – Mark Moses) and “disgusting” embarrassment according to Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser). The scenario is that Freddy is so totally tanked and still drinking right before the Samsonite luggage client meeting. The unprofessionalism and potentially erratic, unpredictable presentation seems less important that the social stain of wet trousers.

The Six-Month Leave episode is really about who and what we hold onto. Against the real-time world backdrop of Marilyn Monroe’s death, we view our characters reacting to the news, revealing (or not) their feelings about the event, and resolving to move forward toward a “fresh start” as it was put by Don Draper (Jon Hamm). Draper in the elevator on the way up: “Can’t say I’m surprised.” Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss) astutely comments, “We’re lucky Playtex didn't go for that Jackie/Marilyn campaign." The secretarial pool is universally weepy with mourning. Roger Sterling sneers that Miss Monroe was a movie star that threw it all away as Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) pines, “This world destroyed her.”

As for Freddy’s plight, he’s dead in the world of Sterling Cooper. Despite his skill set, shared war stories and the loyalty of creative team, Freddy is finished, kaput, sayonara, adios, bye-bye and finito. Roger insists the firm “has to let him go.”

One of Roger Sterling’s violated cardinal sins is lust of the variety that all so frequently allies with disloyalty. Roger ensures the jettison of Freddy is “all being done the right way.” Apparently, 25 years of marriage with Mona does not weigh up as equal to his attraction to the 19-year old secretary Jane Siegel (Payton List). Roger commits a double cop-out, first with a fake name – secretary "Margaret" – to Mona and then, with a twisted-version replay of Don’s suggestion that “it’s your life, you have to move forward.” Roger's business is clear justification without acceptance of responsibilities for his actions and the underlying intentions.

Conflict between Don and Roger is foreshadowed with Roger’s reminder to Don that “you don’t have a contract” with Sterling Cooper. Roger adds, “Your loyalty is starting to become a liability.” At the close, Don ignores Roger’s effort to “explain” his misuse of Don’s bar comment, requests Jane to be off his desk and closes his office door in Roger’s face.

Marilyn Monroe sang “I’m Through With Love” in “Some Like It Hot.”
(1931) Matt Malneck; Songwriters: Gus Kahn, Fud Livingston, Matt Malneck

I'm through with love I'll never fall again
Said adieu to love Don't ever call again
For I must love you or no one
And so I'm through with love

I've locked my heart I'll keep my feelings there
I've stocked my heart in an icy Frigidaire
And I mean to care for no one
Because I'm through with love

Why did you lead me to think you could care?
You didn't need me for you had your share
of slaves around you to hound you and swear
their deep devotion and emotion to you

Goodbye to spring and all it meant to me
It can never bring the things that used to be
For I must have you or no one
And so I'm through with love
I'm through with love
That's why I'm through with love

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Mad Men Night to Remember

MANHATTAN, New York September 15, 2008 >> mad men virtuality ©ML Duby

Revelations abound of what is known but concealed in fears. Certain truths are openly expressed on the Mad Men episode ‘A Night to Remember.’ Don, Betty, Peggy and Joan must answer their impulse to openly put the truth on the table and examine what they recognize. Self scrutiny is almost always forced on us in real life (as opposed to TV dramatic series) as well. Confessions and truth await our characters but, even at the episode’s conclusion, we do not know whether or how each will answer going forward.

The recap below contains plot spoilers about Episode 8: "A Night to Remember." If you haven't seen episode 8, check out the Mad Men Schedule to see when we're airing encore presentations or download it on iTunes.

There are numerous instances of someone convincing another to perform as they need or want. The “other” is recruited by the manipulator. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) uses a dinner party prepared by Betty Draper (January Jones) to create an impression for a client. Betty expressed outrage at being embarrassed at the dinner party about Don knowing the beer she would buy but the underlying boil of anger is from knowing that Don has been cheating on her with Bobbie Barrett (Melinda McGraw). Betty really needs space and sincerely does not want to see him. His fa├žade has been cracked and Betty does not like what she sees about Don’s interior and also despises herself for what it shows her to be – perfect hostess, perfect wife, perfect fool to Don’s infidelity. The other affairs weigh as well on the scale of her outrage and need to separate.

Don remains in denial and cannot speak the truth to his wife. That’s the bottom line. He has reinvented himself so many times and in the present ‘Mad Men’ circumstance, he “does not want to lose all this,” i.e., Betty and the kids. There were many mirrors in the most recent episodes; now the slice of events concludes with him alone in the Sterling Cooper office kitchen nursing a Heineken.

Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss ["shout out to Atlantic Theater Company"]) learns from Father Gill (Colin Hanks) that he knows about her child born out of wedlock. The hoo-hoo about the CYO dance committee is a brilliant dramatic device to carry the essential message of Peggy needing to accept some overdue spiritual truths about her process. Peggy openly admonishes Father Gill that his job is to tell the committee to trust her with her promotional ideas and execution.

When he picks up the final materials at her office, Father Gill reverses that into a message communicated as a leading question to Peggy: “Do you have something you need to talk about? I notice you don’t take communion.” Peggy naturally doesn’t want to talk about it as there are painful truths in her psych even deeper than the out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Father Gill asks, “Why are you pushing everyone away? Do you feel you don’t deserve His love?” Peggy ignores him directly and formally puts his promo materials in a box. Peggy commiserating and pondering in the bathtub at the close is a classic visual of character reflecting their impending fate.

By the way, I totally caught hell when I refused communion as a protest against the hypocrisy of the Vietnam War. Parents and authority functionaries lamented and went ballistic but… Nobody asked me anything! (When is it reality reflecting art and when is it the reverse?)

As for the highly sympathetic Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks), she contains and hides her disappointment at losing the broadcast operations script reader position. We all see how clueless the Harry Crane (Rich Sommer) character is as he smims around his fishbowl life. This woman represents so many millions who were about to burn their bras, drop acid and get downright feminista on some deserving asshole “good-ole-boys”! Excuse me, but 46 years on, we still have significant portions of this society resistant to women deserving Equal Pay for Equal Work. There is an extremely well constructed pathos in the scene of Joan promptly and subserviently sashaying to get her doctor his glass of water.

On Madison Avenue of 1962, you can’t just “whack” somebody like they do on The Sopranos. Yet death and pain come in a thousand cuts. The cracks in the glass ceiling and walls are hammered a thousand times. The reality of sexism’s deeper psychological costs on woman’s physical and mental health is being dramatically revealed as well as ever done on television. We end the episode with a looming and foreboding sense of the knowing and the unknown mixed in a mist of dread and doubt. They just don’t write Medieval Morality Plays like that anymore –except for the brain trust at Mad Men, of course. //

Thursday, September 11, 2008

FIVE EARTHQUAKES

NEW YORK, New York (September 11, 2008)
Five earthquakes (measuring 6.0 and higher magnitude on the Richter scale) occurred in sequence "yesterday" depending on your relativity to the time zone line.

The Southern Iran event on the fragile northern edge of the Arabian Plate was apparently first.

The larger Oriental "slippages" were large, loud and deep: first at the southern "node" of the Philippine Plate near a convergence point of three small sub-plates and followed minutes later at the Hokkaido southern tip of the North American Plate. There was also a large Chilean event and a fifth in the Central Atlantic Ridge (time unknown to me at this post).

Five large earthquakes in such a tight sequence are rare. Global seismologists are quite active discerning what tectonic vibratory and deep frequency factors are at work.

For the superstitiously nervous, tsunami alerts have been canceled, so sing along at the beach with "Fun, fun, fun 'til tsunami took my T-Bird away" or Carole King's "I Felt the Earth Move." Don't forget to meditate. //

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

‘The Gold Violin’ Plays Mad Men

MANHATTAN, New York (September 8, 2008) >> mad men virtuality

‘The Gold Violin’ is a story authored by Sterling Cooper staffer Ken Cosgrove (within the episode of the same name) that was inspired by a painting and “was perfect in every way except it couldn't make music." Like the Taoist peeling of an onion's skin, we explore new layers on ‘Mad Men.’ Certain individuals, especially Don Draper, begin to learn deeper relational and hierarchical truths they might prefer not to know. Moral consequences – past and future – are revealed in a mosaic of exterior/interior tensions laid out in layers of both subtle contained strokes and loud colors of emotion.

DISCLAIMER: The essay below contains plot spoilers about Season 2, Episode 7: ‘The Gold Violin.’ If you haven't seen that episode, check out the Mad Men schedule on amctv.com to see when encore presentations are airing or download it from iTunes.

There is a delicious mixture of senses and revelations in ‘The Gold Violin’ episode. Our characters act out vignettes inside a larger collage of immense emotional and dimensional depth "like looking into something very deep - like you could fall in.” The ‘Mad Men’ series reveals itself once more to be a contemporary version of the Medieval Morality Play. Simply put, “morality plays have a protagonist who represents either humanity as a whole, i.e., Everyman, or an entire social class (e.g., Don Draper). Antagonists and supporting characters are not individuals per se, but rather personifications of abstract virtues or vices.” (Source: Wikipedia)

The new Coupe de Ville Cadillac announces the arrival of Don Draper (Jon Hamm) as a made man. In addition, Bertram Cooper (Robert Morse) reveals to him that it’s “time for the horse to catch the carrot.” Cooper piles up the frosting on the cake: “You’re going to be wearing a tuxedo a lot more. You’ve been invited to see how things work.” Don is climbing into a new stratum of what Vance Packard defines in “The Status Seekers” (1959) as the Upper Middle Class.
Don’s status points include the new Caddie, the senior executive and partner rank at Sterling Cooper, the picture book family of college-educated Betty and the kids, the house in the suburbs, etc. Name your own points: ______.

The irony is that Don (wearing a tux) is soon confronted by Jimmy Barrett’s (Patrick Fischler) angry accusation that he has been sexing it up with his wife Bobbie. Jimmy drags Betty Draper (January Jones) into the fray forcing her to see what’s going on, “Oh come on. Look at them.” Jimmy doubles down and calls out Don to his face, “You know what I like about you? Nothing. And what did you get? Bobbie. Lots of people had that. I go home at night and I laugh at you. You don't screw another man's wife. You’re garbage. And you know it.” Jimmy closes, “It’s been a gas.”

Betty Draper transitions from being thrilled at the new Cadillac (“gorgeous -- like a jet”). She strokes Don’s ego: “You work so hard, you deserve it." She enjoys life as their whole family shares a sunny picnic together. At the Stork Club, Jimmy forces her to see Don and Bobbie as mutual spousal cheaters until it makes Betty sick in the fresh car (with an assist from too much champagne).

Salvatore Romano’s (Bryan Batt) marital relationship with his wife Kitty (Sarah Drew) is the simplest version of everything’s perfect but it won’t play music. Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton) seems to be putting himself into a situation in which sexual seduction (with flattery) by Sal might naturally flow going forward.

Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) discovers that her presumed authority as office manager has been quickly trumped by Jane Seigel’s (Payton List) attractiveness. Roger Sterling (John Slattery) weighs in as the arbiter and master of the realm to Joan’s chagrin. Sleazy business awaits. As we expect events to further unfold for that troika… each of us run has permission for our imaginations to run wild and ragged.

Two pieces of art (the painting and the metaphoric violin) provided the anchors for this episode in which we see and hear dimensional depth of the characters emerge. More specifically, depth is intentionally referenced twice. First, Smitty (Patrick Cavanaugh) remarks on the 60-page Students for Democratic Society screed – it’s a generational thing so you have to be into it to get it. Second, the abstract expressionism of the Rothco painting creates a visual illusion that makes you look into it. An additional reinforcement is that the Sterling Cooper staffers have to sneak into the sanctum of Cooper’s office to see this hidden art object.

It is worth noting for regular readers that the ‘Mad Men Virtuality’ essays are primarily focused on the psychological dynamics and dramatic tensions and resolutions rather than the “look” or culture referencing of the show. As Bertran Cooper cautions, "Don't concern yourself with aesthetics. You'll get a headache.” c2008 by M.L.Duby ///

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

'Maidenform' Reveals Mad Men Double Standards

MANHATTAN, New York (September 1, 2008) >> mad men virtuality >>
"Nothing fits both sides of a woman better than Playtex." Mad Men's 'Maidenform' episode is a view into the substrata of the prevailing social rules of the early-60's sexual double standard. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) maneuvers between the compartments of the complicated world he has chosen to create for himself. The pressures of reality on his walls of separation are mounting.

DISCLAIMER: The essay below contains plot spoilers about Season 2, Episode 6: "Maidenform." If you haven't seen that episode, check out the Mad Men schedule on amctv.com to see when encore presentations are airing or download it from iTunes.

Women dressed like code for men in 1962: Shoes, stockings, skirts, dress straps, bras, accessories, etc. Clothes reveal how "men want to see them" according to Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss). Women's fashion of the era featured appropriate outfits for every occasion. Yves Saint Laurent had yet to score the knock-out blows against the established order with pant suits, safari wear and revamped color motifs.

Before the shakeup of the Sixties, privileged white males (like our Mad Men boys club) flaunted and exploited their positions of presumed authority over all women due to their gender. That perspective demanded uniforms of domestic, office and provocative attire from women. Men objectified and divided women into functional roles and sexual types (e.g., good girl versus bad girl). The Sterling Cooper self-ordained review committee typed the photo shoot bra models into two roles. As Don put it to the Playtex clients: "Two sides of one woman - Jackie (Kennedy) by day or Marilyn (Monroe) by night."

Peggy Olson did not fit at all and was laughed at as a Gertrude Stein or Irene Dunn (who won numerous Oscar awards for her acting). As Peggy put it, "Women expect to be as "men want to see them." When she is not included in activities related to her own account, she joins the after-hours mens' party dresses as the Devil in a Blue Dress to go to the strip club.

In the mind set of the time, it's acceptable to ogle swimsuit models at the golf club fashion show with families and kids but not OK for wife Betty Draper (January Jones) to wear a sexy bikini beach outfit in the privacy of her own kitchen. Don is merely reflecting the social onto his personal in ways that he increasingly cannot control. Don lives between his functions as a successful advertising executive and the difficulties of dealing with the psychological issues and processes of his marriage partner and children.

On a side note, an approaching series plot arc is foreshadowed as Duck Philips undergoes a series of self doubts. First, Duck cannot connect with his divorced family. Then, Duck must admit, "You have an 'I told you so; I hurt the company'," to Don about the American Airlines account fiasco. Finally, Duck confronts the urge to drink and releases the last link to his family - his dog Chauncy - onto the streets to fend for himself.

Mirrors Mirror
The thematic focus on the double standard is reinforced in the Maidenform episode by both the cinematic tools of mirrors and the reflection of the downside effect on our characters -- how they respond to one another and who they become. (That evidence will be explored in more detail as the season and accompanying commentary continues.)

The mirrored images are as obvious as Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) gazing at himself with smugness after his couch romp with the brassiere model. The day/night photo for the Jackie-by-day/Marilyn-by-night Sterling Cooper campaign pitch is visually representing a deeper level for our gazing or gawking at the social sexual double standard.

Don Draper and Bobbi Barrett (Melinda McGraw) watch themselves in the mirror in a stimulating and intoxicating turn-on. Then, Don suddenly senses and understands that Bobbie derives pleasure from him being her behavioral counter-party in a twisted pool of murky yin-yang S&M. Don Draper asks Bobbi as he is tying her wrists: "Does it make you feel better to think that I'm like you?"

Don also has two very different and awkward images of himself in his daughter Sally's eyes. First, she beams at him when he stands as one of the veterans at the country club. Then she comes into the bathroom to sit and watch her daddy shave in front of the mirror. The admiring look repeats the sequence and Sally's comment that "I'm not going to talk; I don't want you to hurt yourself," echoes and ricochets Bobbi's remarks in her bedroom. Don becomes very uncomfortable and sends Sally out. Don sits on the toilet seat reflected in yet another mirror at the close -- Narcissus incarnate darkly gazing into the lake of experiential realization. ///
c2008 by M.L.Duby // 'Maidenform' - Season 2, Episode 6 //

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Mooseburger Hockey Mom Sarah Palin

CHINATOWN, New York (August 30, 2008) politix>>
Ideologically, the pick made sense. Politically, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) is a very risky dice roll that reflects expediently on McCain's judgment and temperment. Half-baked Alaskan "Troopergate" rings of 'Reno 911' with county commissioner drive-by shooting thrown in! Does anyone else hear "Fargo" meets female "Bob Roberts"?

Intellectually, the McCain-Palin pair are a continuation of G-Bush's IDD (Intentional Dumb Down) Syndrome. Expect a billion dollars of 527 ads explaining that stoopid is smart and scientific is threatening. Empiricists risk bonfires, etc.

My physical gut reaction is linked to an image of Gov. Palin image with the "AK-44 training rifle" in furs on a snow mobile confronting the Russians on tundra en route to the raptures. "Alaskan Alamo" scenario...the Triumph of Social Darwinism.

Spiritually...the evangelical right is not my territory...detached tolerance and understanding seems the upright posture.

Emotionally, there's an immense unease to imagine that VP designate Palin can conceivably be the one that picks up the phone at 3 AM. Palin vs. Putin ?! This is NOT a Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon...call your relatives in the swing states and plead sanity.

Never too late to learn...what is this raspberry catsup to garnish my grilled mooseburger about? ///

Monday, August 25, 2008

'Mad Men' Detachment on 'The New Girl'

'The New Girl’ - Season 2, Episode 5
MANHATTAN, New York (August 25, 2008) >> virtuality

'Mad Men' demonstrates how characters are effected by their decisions based on the willingness to let go of or forget about relational and/or psychological attachments. A foundation point of the entire series is that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) has become the Creative Director of Sterling Cooper due to his previous detachment from his real identity, his original wife and son, and his brother. The first season's crystal moment of truth about the man who will remake himself as Lieutenant Donald Draper is the poignancy of the son who sees his father leaving on the train.

DISCLAIMER: The essay below contains plot spoilers about Season 2, Episode 5: "The New Girl." If you haven't seen that episode, check out the Mad Men schedule on amctv.com to see when encore presentations are airing or download it from iTunes. MARATHON ALERT: This Sunday, August 31, at 5 P.M. (EST), the first five episodes will be shown in order before the regular cablecast; check your local listings.

In ‘The New Girl’ episode, Don barely hesitates to leave work to meet Bobbie Barrett (Melinda McGraw) at Sardi’s. They liquor up and drive out to Stoneybrook, Long Island for sex on the beach. Don drives under the influence of both alcohol and the sensation of having his ear sucked with serious sensuality resulting in an automobile accident. Peggy Olson is forced to intervene and to bail out Don – literally. (PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If you still insist on holding to the belief that drinking and driving is ultra cool or even sane, please review the James Dean safe highway driving trailer as well as the soon-thereafter crash photos of his mangled Porsche!)

Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss) has been dragged in as the rescuer and also has to provide Bobbie a safe haven at her apartment to sober up and to give her injured blackened eye a little time to cool down. Bobbie, we see repeatedly, asks a lot of questions to size up people; she queries Peggy about her possible romantic attachment to Don. Bobbie repays Peggy in her own way with tactical tips on how to achieve a corner office at Sterling Cooper. Bobbie insists Peggy has to “be a woman” and has to get don to treat her as an equal.

After her baby was born, Peggy disappeared from work and was in St. Mary’s hospital with "psycho-neurotic disorder" (possibly post-partum depression). In the flashback, Don came to her urging that she “get out of here and move forward.” In other words, detach as if “it never happened.” Don reveals himself in telling Peggy, “It will shock you how much it never happened.”

Meanwhile, Paul Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) and his wife Trudy (Alison Brie) have gone to the doctor for fertility evaluation. Turns out that Pete is ripe with “viability” while Trudy is informed the problem is hers. Pete seems ready to let go of the notion of fatherhood in exchange for less encumbered travel time and movie nights. Trudy, on the other hand, expresses suffering from her attachment to her perceived expectation of motherhood, “What is this all for? I really do want a baby.” Pete is unsympathetic and insensitive, “Work this through or keep it to yourself.”

At the office Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) has a new diamond ring visibly announcing to the staff her new status (and upcoming attachment) as fiancee to a doctor. Roger Sterling offers congratulations to her but also expresses regrets as Joan was “the only reason I came in to work.” Joan wields new authority and enforces dress code mores on the new girl secretary, i.e., Jane Siegel (Payton List), for showing a distracting amount of cleavage.

Jimmy Barrett (Patrick Fischler) compliments Don as a 'real cool cat' for his detachment from Jimmy’s bad behavior with the Schillings and then helping him escape a contract clause to do the 'Grin and Barrett' television pilot.

After the accident, Don arrived home very late from waiting to be bailed out for his driving while intoxicated to find Betty (January Jones) angry as well as deeply concerned. Mrs. Draper is attached to the notion that Don would call her since she is his wife unaware that he has been with Bobbie Barrett. Don makes the excuse that the high blood pressure pills and alcohol together possibly contributed to the impaired driving. In the end, Betty Draper states her real fear and attachment: “What would we do without you (Don)?” Betty informs Don that he will have to get used to meatloaf without salt (a contributor to high blood pressure) "because we love him." ///

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Writedowns Due - econo lines

CHINATOWN, New York (August 24, 2008)
econo lines commentary to The Economist

Fannie, Freddie and Lehman ensure August is anything but quiet
8/24/08
Still bleeding - american finance
Aug 21st 2008 The Economist Newspaper

No excuses: "They didn't see it coming." The professionals at Fannie, Freddie and Lehman were blinded by greed. Simple as the math of further system-wide losses due.

Writedowns are currently about $300 billion USD with projected losses at over a trillion. The amount of shakedown still due is pretty simple math and pretty ugly scenario.

Back in first quarter 2006, my hair was on fire with the view that Q3 2007 was piling up to about a trillion in ARM's needing re-fi. OK: September 2007 was the peak for that and the market peak was October 2007. Do not believe anyone "in the business" that says nobody saw it coming. At 2006 Q1, Nouriel Roubini (yeah, yeah, always the pessimist) and Stephan Roach at JP Morgan Asia were publishing that view...with clear stark apprehension.It was simple math.

I illustrated the impending circumstance as a wet sand castle at the beach...it is going to dry out and one of the corners is going to fall. Day and hour is as uncertain as a breeze at the beach. It's not a clock, it's a process. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and Lehman played on the thin ice with egos like heavy armor. //

Street to Street ... Bloc to Bloc!

Bullhorn, clipboard & table - ACTIVATE !

Action list for street tablers:
Dust off bullhorn;
Bundle voter registration forms;
Select brochures & petitions;
Rubber band the pens & markers;
Polish clipboard;
Strap table onto the dog wagon
& drag it to in front of the big grocery store.

HIT THE STREETS!

Street to street ... bloc to bloc!

We have a saying in New York city politics:
"If you're not prepared to streat fight, don't step off the curb."

CHINATOWN, New York (August 24, 2008) politix ///

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden Buzz

CHINATOWN, New York (August 23, 2008) >> politix

The decision to select Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) is no surprise. The timing and suspense were admirably handled by the effective campaign team over at the Obamavilla. Great choice given the middle working class roots of Irish Catholic "six-pack" Joe. Scion Evan Bayh is so (just too) so-so and Tim Kaine (on his Charley Rose coming out interview) demonstrated that he was not ready for the hot lights.

Senator Biden is Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and really knows the terrain. Former Chair of the Judiciary Comittee as well...

Biden, by the way, ranks 99th of 100 Senators in terms of wealth. If $300,000 in lobbyist money since 1997 is the worst the Republicans can dredge up, that is very good news. My primary concern was his son's hedge fund lawsuit... Everybody got something and I'm pretty sure Caroline Kennedy personally made some calls to vet that item. Biden's natural constituencies among foreign policy wogs, older folks and trade union types are helpful. Expect a non-stop tape loop on "economic anxieties." Perfect by me.

The MCM (Multinational Corporate Media) has weighed in with its usual gunk. Nothing brightens my Saturdays more than hearing William Kristol sound off with his regrets the standard of the Roman Empire doesn't fit on the White House lawn. Almost all of the McCain spokespersons were women. The Romney surrogate was as reassuring as a fresh probe of the Keating Five. Karl Rove insists Biden will be a liability because he "tends to exaggerate," "puts his foot in his mouth too often," and his tri-partite Iraqi proposal would have split that country into three pieces. What did you expect from Rove? Fox is NOT NEWS and somewhat emotionally childish in their approach.

Snarky notes follow for those who are so politically addicted they have tracked all links down to Google Search page 216. Biden reclaims his Scranton, Pennsylvania roots... Biden is 65 and has been in the U.S. Senate since he was 29... OK, Time for Change in Washington. I do like the way he is going to constanntly reference "Bush-McCain."

Biden will stay on the populist message without hitting the third rail of "bitter" class warfare. I have news in case you've been hibernating in a deep salt mine: New York City's economic flooring is collapsing and the entire state Michigan is already drowning in the Lakes. Tax deductions for corporate off-shoring HAS TO END. Say it as often as possible, please.

Note the new GOP talking face is Ms. Nancy Mitchell Pfotenhauer identified as a McCain Campaign Advisor. During the 1990s, she was an apparatchik “executive vice president for policy” on behalf of coal company Koch Industries through their front group, the Citizens for a Sound Economy. This is John Birch country and hints toward the GOP's dark cloud future. (Is that coal soot or methane from cattle lots?) Either way, it smells of trouble.

I don't need to tell Barack Obama to turn that bad dog loose. One reminder for my buddy Joe: Refresh the voters on the old Harry Truman line: "Don't vote for me - vote for yourselves!" Give 'em hell! ///

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Quick Draw McCain's Gang versus Honest Able

CHINATOWN, New York (August 20, 2008) politix

When a political party's convention stars are crony-meister Rudy Giuliani, Dick ("Halli-burden") Cheney, Roman Senator Joe LIEberman ("I, Likudius"), and The Terminator...
Who could possibly doubt the raptures are to follow the reception?!
Seriously, they call it "diversity."

Richard Clarke (former National Security Council counter-terrorism adviser) recently reminded that presumptive nominee John ("Quick-Draw") McCain pushed for war in Iraq before even President George Bush made up his mind (oxymoron there): "I'm sure he [McCain] loves his country. It's just that loving your country and lying to the American people are apparently not inconsistent in his view."

Q:: Who called Giuliani on his Orwellian-speak "noun-verb and 9-11" IDD ("intentional dumb-down") act?
A:: Senator Joe ("six-pack") Biden... Union man, I reckon. Showing up to support that yankee Honest Able...that skinny smart guy from South Side Chicago.

I'm betting against Giuliani who will neither stop pretending he's ill nor admit that he simply lacks depth and reason. Cronyism, Corruption & Incompetence! Giuliani and George Bush's FEEMA were total bluster and no muster in NYC after WTC attacks.

Who do you want in office when the next Katrina hits? They were so bad, they had to change the spelling to FEEMA: "Forget Everything Except My Ass." ///

Biden on Pakistan

CHINATOWN, New York (August 20, 2008) Politix

Last November, Joe Biden predicted that the South Carolina primary would pick the next president. He also directly answered the question: "What the hell do we do about Pakistan?" Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) replied.

"The single most significant thing that we could do to change the international environment according to most scholars is literally to empower women in countries where they're not empowered at all," he said after dealing with the latest round in the Biden-Giuliani street fight. And then, there was Pakistan -- which, unbeknownst to either of us non-Blackberry-wearing fellows, was at that very moment going down the kind of spiral that Biden had warned, in a debate four days earlier, was more frightening than Iran's furtive nuclear program. I asked him, on the heels of Karen Hughes's second departure from the Bush administration, how we worry about Pakistan as a threat while bringing up our 15% favorability rating among its people.

"You've got to have a Pakistani policy and not a Musharraf policy. This administration has a General Musharraf policy. So what you have to do is -- there's a vast majority, a significant middle of the population of Pakistan, [that] is democratic and middle-class. But what's happening is, absent free elections, you're forcing them underground, radicalizing them, and you're giving great sway to that portion of the population that's already radicalized," he said, and argued that aid to education with an eye toward economic development is more conducive to long term goals in the country."

Biden's response was to the question by Off-the-Bus's Shelby Highsmith (HuffPo Off-the-Bus) who reported it directly ("Biden: SC Will Pick the Next President" posted November 6, 2007). My commentary at the time follows.

Commentary reply to BIDEN in HuffPo nov6-07
Regarding Pakistan, Senator Biden must surely have dreaded the day that Musharraf's "emergency" came to fruition. With Islamists now controlling the Swat Valley and expanding areas in North-East Pakistan, the stakes cannot be higher. Biden knew very well the likelihood of such tension.

Biden, Edwards and Dodd are the Democratic candidates that show the most capacity to think beyond the present into the near-future difficulties that confront our next president. They recognize the interconnectedness of Iraq-Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan-Kashmir. Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan will certainly be the next fronts if Afghanistan goes badly. The Taliban resurgence is remarkable for its resilience but also for the Bush administration's failure of focus.

The Iraq War has damaged America's moral reputation, decreased our national security, and increased terrorism worldwide. That's pretty well acknowledged but Senator Biden goes deeper.
To his credit, Biden's proposal to federate Iraq into tripartite administrations is not dissimilar to Turkey's Ottoman solution (pre-WWI). As Senator Biden is aware, the British held onto Iraq for the oil and especially Kirkuk. My oppositon to the invasion was grounded in knowing that without a post-conflict solution for Kirkuk and Mosul that Sunni-Shia conflict of the worst sort was inevitable.

"We must dedicate this nation to the policy of the 'good neighbor' - the neighbor who respects his obligations and respects the sanctity of his agreements in and with a world of neighbors.” - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

That must be balanced with realistic hard choices on the part of the next American administration. ///

Monday, August 18, 2008

'Three Sundays' Teach Mad Men Right & Wrong

MANHATTAN, New York (August 18, 2008)

"When the flesh meets the cross…Seduced by evil desires…" Admonitions and warnings of a sermon open the episode of ‘Three Sundays.’ How do we learn right and wrong? We can hear the encouragement to behave properly and the threat of punishment for immoral actions but we learn by empathetical observation of those in positions of standing. Witnessing actions of our parents and societal role models teach us what will be rewarded and what will be negatively reinforced or punished. At the extreme, the Catholic church of Peggy offers heaven and warns of hell.

DISCLAIMER: The essay below contains plot spoilers about Season 2, Episode 4: "Three Sundays." If you haven't seen that episode, check out the Mad Men schedule on amctv.com to see when encore presentations are airing or download it from iTunes.

The Drapers engage in a domestic drama regarding how to control and discipline their son Bobby. He is full of “shenanigans, ...being wild in the house, ...lying in (Betty's) face” and ignoring warnings to be careful. Betty wants Don to deliver Bobby a spanking to teach him. Betty snarls the point, "First the washing machine and now the hi-fi... How else is he going to learn the difference between right and wrong?"

It is interesting to note that Betty has started to neglect the understood motherly function of feeding her kids (at 7:30 PM) and her husband when he returns from work. Betty at the end learns from Don: "My father beat the hell out of me. All it did was make me fantasize about the day I could murder him." Their couple violence escalates to shoves and threats to bodily harm (as in "put you through that window").

Daughter Sally is about eight years old and precociously knows enough to ask Paul about sex when she visits the office. “Do you kiss her? Do you ride on top of her?” Discussions with Joan about breast size and expectations of her own image of what she will be when she grows up are Sally's way of being sophisticated and “hip” (not yet a verbal meme for eight-year-olds in 1962). As we know, the tweeners and younger girls of today are bombarded with provocative and suggestive images and sounds. Some will not be so fortunate as to be carried home in the arms of their fathers after their first experiment with drinking whiskey until they pass out. It is worth noting for concerned parents that about 20% of children (even as young as six) are interested in sex, know the basics and fantasize about its adult implications (from the perspective and dream worlds of children, of course).

On the other hand, Roger Sterling has learned that he can get anything he wants if he is willing to pay the price of the ticket or “invoice” as he puts it. Vicky the prostitute has agreed to Roger’s price point in exchange for Roger getting whatever he wants in sexual acts. They depart from the hotel room to Lutece with Roger volunteering to school her in the finer points of red wine (and perhaps how to be his perfect mistress).

Father Gill learns from sister Anita Olson during confession that Peggy has “seduced a married man.” Anita judges her and hates her for her sin of the out-of-wedlock child. What's more, Anita feels that Peggy “acts like nothing has happened.”

Peggy's story resonates for us all. My own personal footnote is that I was conceived out of wedlock in murky circumstances during an evening of a summer baseball tournament. The act of conception was in a car with alcohol involved. This was an era when abortion was out of the question. Our nuclear family had a “wild-man” electron from before day one. “Growing up with the teenagers” was literal, figurative and painful. My familial (not the biological) father suffered and withdrew from me at a very early age.

Father Gill commits an act of tender kindness when he gives Peggy the blue Easter egg “for the little one.” May we all learn compassionate wisdom. ///

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sudan Attacks in North Darfur

CHINATOWN, New York (August 14, 2008) >> CENTCOMM: At The Front

The Sudan government is waging a fresh campaign to clear North Darfur of rebels. The May 10 assault on Khartoum was from Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) camps located in that region near the border convergence of North Darfur, Chad and Libya. Oil exploration activities have also begun in that area. A satellite view of the terrain shows a vast area of desert that could be a clip of Mars – endless rippled reddish-tan sand hills.

At least seven were killed in Tuesday's most recent attacks by Sudan in North Darfur. Purportedly between 100-270 vehicles and 500 mounted janjaweed on camels and horses were involved in the operational assaults. All the water has to be transported...hence the truck convoys and low numbers of attack troops riding in “technicals” and on camels and horses. The location of the attack was identified as a soda ash plant apparently occupied by Darfurian rebels. Exact location (according to Abdel-Wahid al-Nour, the chairman of the Sudan Liberation Movement) was proximate to the soda ash deposits of Jebel Atron. The area is south of the great Wadi Atron geo-physical feature (like a giant desert washed-out area or a river with no water). This is also – not coincidentally – in an oil development and exploration field identified as Block A12.

The Sudanese government fails to acknowledge that seismic activity is underway. However, Block A12 is operated by a “consortium led by the privately held Saudi Arabian oil company al-Qahtani” (BBC/Khartoum). Al-Qahtani & Sons is enormous in oil field services: and construction contracting; the company has a division specializing in anti-corrosive pipes. The region is one that Chinese companies are seeking to explore and Chinese workers have recently been moved there to look for oil in the remote area.

"Preparations are ongoing to launch a small campaign of 1,000 kilometers of seismic" works at Block 12A in Northern Darfur, Sudan's country manager at Ansan Wikfs, a partner of Sudan-owned Sudapet, Denis Rey told the Dow Jones at or around July 9. Company officials confirmed at that time that “state-linked Chinese oil services companies are in talks to help Sudan exploit its crude reserves in its troubled Darfur region with the Sudanese army providing security,”

The Darfur region of conflict now sprawls over four countries: Sudan, Chad, northern Central African Republic (CAR) and now cross-border retreats of rebels into Libya. At the core, the central factors of the overlapping conflicts are depleting water and developing oil.

The Sudanese offensive to clear Darfurian rebels out of north along Chad border is also a convenient place to park Sudan's anti-Chadian proxies. At the corner with the Libyan border are mountains to the west from there along northern Chadian border with Libya.

Sudanese Army and Chadian insurrectionists outweigh the Chad Army and Darfurian rebels many times. So Khartoum's strategy may be to lean on the Chad government and wait until they wear down or to diplomatically achieve what they want from Chad without a fight.

The Sudanese embassy in N'Djamena is set to re-open next week. A rapprochement with the Chad government of Idriss Deby (presently ranked as the world's most corrupt) includes side agreements for restoration of bilateral relations and cessation of negative media campaigns by the two governments. Libyan leader. Muammar Ghaddafi is also sponsoring a tripartite summit that the two presidents of Sudan and Chad have agreed to attend.

This regional campaign to clear the northern flank is in the context of the larger overall conflict over Darfur. In 2003, Darfurian rebels attacked Sudanese positions as push back on Arab herders displacing black African villagers in the massive region of Darfur (meaning "land of the Fur" tribe). Most are familiar with the Sudanese response of ferocious janjaweed irregulars engaging in brutal ethnic cleansing. According to the United Nations, over 300,000 have been killed and two million have been displaced with a substantial proportion of those falling into refugee status. ///

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Manage Expectations on Mad Men's "The Benefactor"

What do we expect? What would Don Draper do? How do the characters “manage people’s expectations”? How are others able to use and manipulate us because we "expect" them to behave a certain way? The level of social contracts contains a framework within which we expect people to act and respond. The characters who trump that level with their willful expedience to take the game beyond the boundary triumph as the winners. They act on their needs and how to attain them beyond societal norms.

DISCLAIMER: The essay below contains plot spoilers about Season 2, Episode 3: "The Benefactor." If you haven't seen that episode, check out the Mad Men schedule on amctv.com to see when encore presentations are airing or download it from iTunes.

"The Benefactor" (episode #16) of Mad Men involves five couples: Drapers, Barretts, Schillings, Harry and his pregnant wife Jennifer, Arthur and his girlfriend Tara. Each of those couples demonstrates surface of expectations (e.g., contractual fidelity) and how those expectations really play out under the table and/or below the belt.

For example, the couple of comic Jimmy Barrett and his manager/maybe-wife/(sister-in-the-old-days) Bobbie have very low expectations around "fidelity." It's all business and survival. In the open, Jimmy goes beyond politeness and totally insults the obese Mrs. Schilling as a semblance of the Hindenburg. He ceases to stop and dumps on with “buffalo” and “whale” comparisons. Getting drunk on a contracted promotional shoot doesn’t faze him as wrong or inappropriate. People expect it. Later in the episode, Bobbie tells Don on the phone that Jimmy is auditioning at the Copa nightclub – controlled by the Mob in those days. That’s hard ball rules.

Bobbie thinks (expects) she can intimidate Don Draper as if he plays by the understood rules of propriety in business dealings. She will discover that Don plays hard ball better than she does. Bobbie expects a payoff for her behavior but doesn't get one. The turning moment is the command-performance sex in the front seat of Don’s car during the hailstorm. He protests, “I don't want to do this.” She retorts, “(IT) doesn't feel that way.” In the powder room at Lutece, Don manipulates Bobbie's expectations of his need/affection/lust for her. Don threatens to ruin Jimmy if she does not prompt him for the apology to Mrs. Schilling.

The insulted Schillings deserve but barely expect an apology from the likes of Jimmy Barrett. Mrs. Schilling “knows that’s what (Jimmy does) but she doesn’t have the stomach for it.”

Harry's wife Jennifer expects him to ask for a raise. She also has expectations that they somehow “deserve” the money because they need it for the coming baby. Oh my, how times have changed.

Arthur, the handsome rider, expects to be treated as “the rooster” at the stable but discovers that Betty turns down his advances. Immediately revealed are imbalances of money (she's got it) and dimorphism (he is much larger than she is). Arthur's relationship with Tara seems to be social climbing, expedient and unequally balanced.

Betty Draper defends her fidelity and performs as Don's “better half.” She understands the game and asks Don if the business dinner at Lutece will be an occasion for her to “talk” (i.e., participate in the conversation) or one in which she is expected to be silent. When the evening ends with Betty cuddling cozy next to Don in the car, she expects him to recognize that they “make a great team.” ///

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mother Bear Russia Attacks

CHINATOWN, New York (August 10, 2008)
If one sees South Ossetia as a bear cub of Mother Bear Russia, one may want to turn one's eyes away from the fate of the small creature (say a racoon, i.e., Republic of Georgia) that threatened such a much larger beast. Out on the icy surface of geopolitical reality, the "frozen conflict" is heatedly engaged.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has set in motion actions that may prove very dangerous for us all. The question is the degree to which the Russians are willing to withstand international pressure while taking territory. Russia as the "Gazprom Inc." petrostate covets control of the pipeline from Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea energy fields.

The military weight advantage of Russia over Georgia is overwhelming: 650,00 versus 30,000 personnel; 200 versus 13,000 tanks and APC's; combat aircraft 1200 versus handful; 7500 artillery pieces versus roughly a hundred. (Source: Jane's Assessments) At this posting, Russian naval operations are encircling the Black Sea side while tank-lead Russian occupation forces are pouring south into the area around Gori, Georgia and down through Abkhazia.

The warnings were clear. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin especially, warned repeatedly of "serious consequences" if South Ossetia was "provocative." Putin was explicitly clear that "Russia will not and can not accept a NATO presence in Georgia." Kosovo's separation from Serbia in February was one more factor leading to this unfortunate turn of international events. The Russians substantially upped the volume of the growl since April. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has specifically and repeatedly threatened that Georgian efforts to join NATO “will lead to renewed bloodshed.”

Strategic considerations in the Caucasus Mountains have lead Russia to military action for over 200 years. The 1989-1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union led to serious fighting then followed by 19 years of "unsettled conflict" as it has been characterized. It is notable that linguistically, the Ossetians are of Persian rather than Caucasus lineage. Culturally, their history is connected to the north. Local tensions include competition for scarce water and fuel between the 80%-majority Ossetians (many of whom now possess Russian passports) and the Georgians.

Russian-Georgian Timeline
13th Century - Ossetians pushed south into the Caucusus by the Mongols
1783 - Georgia accepts protectorate status under Catherine the Great
1801 - Russia annexes Georgia
Dec. 1879 - Josef Stalin born in Gori, Georgia
1914-1918 - World War One
1918-1920's - Russian Revolution and aftermath; flu pandemic
1930's - Bloody purges under Georgian Communist Party chief Beria
1941-1945 - World War Two
1948-1985 - The Cold War between the Warsaw Pact and NATO/U.S.A.
1989-1991 - Collapse of the Soviet Union
1990-1991 - South Ossetians fight for separation from Georgia
1991 - Georgia declares independence from Russia. Shevardnadze became president
1992-1994 - Abkhazia fights for separation from Georgia and Russian re-unification
2003 - Shevardnadze overthrown
2004 - The Rose Revolution elects Mikheil Saakashvili as Georgian President
Summer 2004 - Georgian troops re-enter South Ossetia to restore "territorial integrity" and order against banditry
Winter 2006 - Russia imposes food embargoes, cuts transportation and energy
Summer 2006 - Georgia sends troops back into Abkhazia
2006 - South Ossetian referendum votes for full independence
February 2008 - Kosovo independence recognized. Russian Duma votes to recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia
April 2008 - Georgia's Saakashvili demands reversal and supplies mobilization
May-July 2008 - Violence, bellicosity, military over-flights and insults escalate on all sides

August 2008 - Georgians surround and attack Ossetian city of Tskhinvali; Russians invade; state of war is decreed and mobilization expanded; 2000 troops flown back to Georgia from Iraq by Americans

Russia has made itself clear. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin: "War has started." Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov: “We will do anything not to allow Georgia and Ukraine to join NATO.” The West is calling for ceasefires. ///

Saturday, August 9, 2008

HEARD ZONE

CHINATOWN, New York (8/08/08)

HEARD ZONE alludes to the moment of uncertainty when a migratory herd must cross a river. The “mascot” of the fresh water mosasaur is the visual reminder that those who jump first and attempt to cross are likely to discover hungry hidden predators. Today's Nile crocodile awaiting a herd of zebras that must cross the river would be the same metaphor. The site is organized into primary sections of POLITIX, VIRTUALITY, WORLD, ECONO LINES, and CENTCOMM: AT THE FRONT.

POLITIX = political fix for recreational weekenders to hard-cure self medicators. I will be attempting to aim the shining Kleig lights of 21st Century progressivism into the darkly shadowed world of the American demographic forest. Realistically, there are 300 million people on the ground in The States... and we are not all above average. In a reality-based frame, we will traverse the districts of discourse from America's unresolved tribal conflicts to villainous Corporados stealing the church collection plates!!!

VIRTUALITY = the etheric realms of organized electrons that attempt to inform, persuade and assure us as witnesses to our history of transition into an unknown somewhere. Television section opens with “MadMen Reflections in an Antique Mirror.” My focus on that series will be its dramatic presentation rather than its interior decorating aspects. The Internet sub-section will be mobbing up and netting live prey. Humans are swimming in their own Tao, Maya and/or Karma of perceptible immersion. Musica = that which is absolutely necessary and "Unforgettable.” At this juncture, the world of Print Media has as much chance for survival as our first zebra to hit the water. Psycho-demography = population dynamics and interrelational analysis; I will be sounding off to synaptic snap, the crackle of self-remembering and Pop Psyc.

WORLD = All and Everything on the "Occasion." 6.7 billion humans are each clamoring for their share of life and potential in a Malthusian environment of demand pressure and supply squeeze. The tangible and physical realms of our planet's struggle to survive will be reported.

ECONO LINES = analysis and commentary on macroeconometric trends and happenings too large to ignore. Previously, “Sub Prime BBQ” and “Dance of Debt” (on the unbalanced coupling of the U.S.A. and China trade and debt relationship) were series that will be re-introduced in this new configuration. I was pounding my shoe on the table in the first quarter of 2006 and farther back into 2005 attempting to draw attention to the obvious that the bulge of re-financing Adjustable Rate Mortgages in Q3-2007 was over a trillion dollars. The re-fis pressure would be the economic tsunami to hit our beach-front security. My effort will be to interpret macro financial numbers into naturalistic allegories. and references to the worlds of physics and energetics.

CENTCOMM: AT THE FRONT will cover the territory of the corresponding American military command. Big trouble looms from the camel corps of the North African Maghreb to the operational disposition of the Khyber Pass. ///

Dear John (Edwards),

MANHATTAN, New York (8/08/08)

"Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
Until, in our own despair,
Against our will, comes wisdom,
Through the awful grace of God."
-- Aeschylus

Vanity got you...the house, the hair, the hedge fund, the hottie.Why oh why were you attracted to this woman? Bars are not good places to meet campaign workers.

The Rielle Hunter videos were terrible. Maybe the hotel flickers were better. Couldn't you see that? To my eye (even on first viewing way back when), you were "lit up" on the airplane (probably Fred Baron's). Sordid and sorry.

I sympathetically see the "son of a mill worker" but am now distracted by the $400 haircut that you just couldn't live without. I empathetically respect the private life separate from the public role but you repeatedly misled everyone including the Democratic Party (DP). The DP fortunately acted on higher wisdom than my own or we would be facing a presumptive nominee with a political death sentence.

Is it the giddiness of the ascent? Is it the "golden touch" of great fortune and fate? Is there a lesson to be learned by us all as we witness your suffering with this tragic error?

Times have changed since Grover Cleveland and you have self-destructed an opportunity to deeply and substantively contribute to the well-being of your country. You've gone from Teddy Rosevelt to Grover Cleveland in historical association...yikes!

Having written and posted about a thousand articles and commentaries on behalf of your candidacy, I will be pondering and reflecting...going forward.

Blessings and peace on your family as you miss the convention you worked so hard to achieve. So sad and my heart still goes out to you. ///

Friday, August 8, 2008

Chinese Olympics Total Solar Eclipse

CHINATOWN, New York (8/08/08)

From the perspective of Chinese divination, the prophetic portent (augury) of the August 1, 2008 total solar eclipse is ominous. The associated forebodings include:
-- Change of dynasty or fall of the regime
-- Death of emperor (or Chairman of the CCP, we might presume)
-- Initiation or turning point of war
-- Natural disaster, e.g., major earthquake or volcano
-- Eruption of social chaos

Before one dismisses the astronomical event as unable to affect earthly events, consider the following: Total solar eclipses occur due to specific alignment of the Earth, Moon and Sun. That alignment will surely have a gravitational and electro-magnetic effect on the planetary energy fields and tectonic plates. The Chinese Imperial Library was maintained for two millennia; the Sichuan earthquake of July would qualify as a significant entry.

Please note some curious synchronistics. Pope John Paul II was born on and buried on the day of solar eclipses; he had been prophetically referred to as the “solar Pope.” Russian author and lion of anti-Communism Alexander Solzhenitsyn died immediately after the recent eclipse. He wrote a fascinating in-depth section in "August 1914" on the ecliptic influence and effect on military strategies of nation states that he saw as greater (or meta) spiritual beings. Mother Russia and Dragon China are "nations" of the solar energy and eclipses. The Solzhenitsyn passage states they initiate military operations synchronous with solar eclipses. It might be concluded that the Russian-Georgian conflict could dramatically escalate based on this "ecliptic influence." He writes that (alternatively) the historical and mystical Persians and Jews were influenced by lunar eclipses. (Note that one is due on August 16.)

There is recent scholarship of the classics that dates the return of Odysseus from the Trojan War to Ithaca at the time of a solar eclipse in 1178 B.C.E. In our end-of-era moment, we would be wise to consider the lessons learned and “signs given” since ancient times. In recent memory, the solar eclipse of August 6, 1990 coincided with Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. The 1991 Gulf War coalition response was launched on January 17, the day after another solar eclipse.

Generally a total solar eclipse crosses any portion of the Earth’s surface about once in 350 years or twice in an "age of civilization cycle" (see Rodney Collins's "Theory of Celestial Influences"). For those individuals troubled and seeking immediate spiritual guidance, Chogyam Trungpa's "Cutting through Spiritual Materialism" is a worthy reference point for this junction.

Before you conclude that you have wasted your time and attention speculating on invisible influences, recall that the Aztec calendar predicted the arrival of Cortez on their beach to the very day...on the occasion of an eclipse! ///

Thursday, August 7, 2008

'Mad Men' Takes Flight One

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK (August 7, 2008)

The essential nature of drama is conflict. How the future unfolds and circumstances resolve is dependent on the characters and how they adapt or do not due to their inherent hubris (fatal ego flaw). Characters develop (transcending upward or devolving down). These very same principles apply on 21st Century TV as in the ancient theaters of Greece beginning in the Sixth Century B.C.E. We, the audience, are drawn in by identification with those characters and through our anticipation of what will transpire.

DISCLAIMER: The essay below contains plot spoilers about Season 2, Episode 2: "Flight One." If you haven't seen that episode, check out the Mad Men schedule on amctv.com to see when encore presentations are airing or download it from iTunes.

The operational center of the Mad Men universe is the office complex of Sterling Cooper that doubles as its emotional arena. The character conflicts of staffers introduced in the Flight One episode will resolve in that primary setting. As Joan Holloway foreshadows, People should not bring their problems into the office. They just drag you into the garbage.” The antagonistic dualities are being established.

At the open, Paul Kinsey has thrown a party in his suburban Montclair, New Jersey “poor little rich boy apartment.” Paul introduces his girlfriend Sheila White (who is black) to fellow staffers. Joan immediately and directly insults Paul with her feigned surprise that he would be “open-minded.” Staffers observe that Paul has lifted an office typewriter (and made him vulnerable). His justification is that he is a WRITER who NEEDS it. Later in the office, she shows her sharp teeth: “At least I'm not a phony.” Viewers see a male hand steal Joan's red purse from her locker; then her ID is copied and posted on the bulletin board with her birthday circled. (Presumably) Paul's act of payback reveals Joan’s age to be 31.

The episode reveals Peggy's internal spiritual conflict. She visits her new baby that is living at her mother's. Sleeping in the same room with the baby are two additional boys who are potentially hers. Peggy declines communion. This all adds up to possible issues such as aversion to contraceptives and abortion, which was still generally illegal at that time.

Betty Draper demonstrates talent as a card shark when the Drapers entertain at home. She also expresses a greater willingness to confront Don but he dodges the confrontation, “I’ll say whatever you want but I don't want to fight about it.” Rules of marriage are about to be tested.

Don Draper's contradiction at the office is that cutting loose a client is called “conflict of interest” for a good reason. We have additional complications as Duck Philips has recruited Pete Campbell in opposition to Draper’s call for “loyalty.” Pete Campbell’s father was in the airplane that crashed. He is suddenly without even a semblance of an emotional or moral rudder. Inheritance has turned to obligation and security into uncertainty.

Early 21st Century needs the straight-forward self-made (on many levels) Don Draper. Golden Globe Best Actor Jon Hamm deserves his accolades. His persona is resonating with those who are aware they are somewhere new now but unsure where, when and what that is. Our own end-of-era feelings and anxieties are being projected onto characters that we know are soon to find themselves immersed in social upheaval and revolutions across the realms of human existence.

Ageism and racial prejudice have been added to the previous blatant gender prejudice of WASP-ish 1962. The religious underpinnings of “proper” socially contractual sexual mores are creaking and cracking from the weight of cultural pressure. The duelists in these emerging conflicts are maneuvering and circling without head-on collisions – so far. Plenty of combatants are itching for a fight this season. ///

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Taking Issue(s)

CHINATOWN, New York (August 3, 2008) >> politix

Let us not be distracted from the critical issues that face our nation. When the GOP lowers the Presidential dialogue level to celebrity baiting and racial fear mongering, remind your family, friends and neighbors that our nation is in real peril if we do not reach resolutions on the overwhelming problems confronting us.

--> Need to Address Our Economic and Housing Crisis;
--> Need for Universal Health Care;
--> Need to End Combat in Iraq;
--> Need to Preserve Our Environment;
--> Need to Solve Energy, Security & Global Warming;
--> Need for Economic Justice & Fair Taxation Policies;
--> Need for Rural Recovery and Broader Internet Access;
--> Need to Rebalance Corporatist and Lobbyist Dominated System;
--> Need for Smart Trade Agreements;
--> Need to Defend the Constitution.

McCain is simply not up to the task. We obviously do not need John McCain as Bush's third term! ///

Saturday, August 2, 2008

VEEPSTAKES VETTING ZOO – VP PROSPECTUS

MANHATTAN (July 2008) politix ©2008 by M. Dubay

The first decision of paramount impact for presumptive nominee Sen. Barack Obama is the choice of Vice Presidential running mate. There are three integrated aspects to measure: Electability advantages, assistance in governance if/when elected, and the personality mesh. The Vetting ZOO chart [excel] includes those presently mentioned as under consideration and in the process of vetting scrutiny.

For baby boomers, the George McGovern candidacy really sank and doomed many down-ticket Democrats due to the Eagleton VP withdrawal – a fiasco of the first magnitude. More recently, most political readers recall the personality clashes and tactical differences between nominated Senators Kerry and Edwards in 2004. Was it “help or hope is on the way!” that got in the way? The response to “swiftboating” demanded naval razing rather than time-consuming navel gazing. How could “they” not have been aware that the flank attack was going to launch? No doubt, a certain stubbornness set in as turmoil inside the campaign churned.

Marc Ambinder's [[“It's Vetting Time”]] in the National Journal provides a behind-the-curtain view of the psychological nuances and potential traps for presumptive nominees of both major parties. He quotes John Kerry as revealing, “You inevitably come upon things that have never been made public.”

2000 gave us Sen. Joe Lieberman (Likud – CT) and a body of opinion exists that Gore's fatal campaign error was his choice of running mate. Senator Diane Feinstein (CA), Sen. Bob Graham (FL), Sen. Evan Bayh (IN) and Sen. John Edwards (NC) were all better choices. My own strategic recommendation at the time was to launch the Riverboat Express with Bill Clinton (as skipper and M.C.) to plow the waters of our great interior rivers. Lights, music and BBQ’d dancing girl hoopla (with prizes and free food at every stop) would have broadcast from Cincinnati to Chattanooga and on down to N'Orleans. I was serious. Blame Nader as much as you like for as long as you want but recognize that even the Revolutionary Workers Party had enough voters to tip the result. Nuff said on that.

The personality mesh affects both campaign dynamics and the sought after reins of governance. Among the top-tier possibilities, Sen. Clinton is realistically unlikely on that count alone. The naming of the ousted Patty Solis Doyle as Chief of Staff to the selected running mate is a huge sign – blinking and blaring if not blinding and deafening. Obama is most likely not comfortable with Sen. Clinton and her inner corps of cadres. One disqualifier is the linkage to Mark Penn since the “change and reform” message is a direct clash with his ilk and their expedience.

Assistance in governance is two-fold in that the voting electorate sees and hears sufficient slices of the VP candidate to judge not only a level of executive competence and gravitas but also what the Presidential candidate perceives as their need (to govern and to project through media a help to getting elected). The executive experience is why Governors have had a better chance than Senators historically.

Electability assistance includes demographic appeal, electoral weight, Party unity and media presentation of the primary candidate and their message. Certain factors are obvious as generalizations. For example, older white working-class Catholic men living in the Deep South are not amongst Obama’s strongest demographic clusters. Balance on the ticket can be helpful.

Electoral weight (as in large states get more electoral votes) balances with certain prospects that appeal to entire regions or demographics rather than their own one state. Gov. Kathleen Sibelius of Kansas (EV=5) is unlikely to deliver her own very red state but is very much in the style of Obama and could assist greatly in the bordering and attached swing states of Missouri, Iowa, Colorado, New Mexico and the E.V.D. of Omaha. She might be a winning complement. Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana (EV=3) is probably fairly well recognized and respected in Denver and Phoenix but not so inside the “Beltway bubble” or in the corridors of Wall Street.

The demographic appeal of Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (EV=13) or Fmr. N.C. Sen. John Edwards (EV=15) to working-class folks is well known. The Vietnam War hero and the son of the mill worker have their supporters that are not naturally (or even in some cases comfortably) Obama's constituency.

Party unity enthusiasts and realists are pointing to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (EV=21) and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh (EV=11). One is stronger on executive experience and the other has Senatorial foreign policy tenure. Gov. Rendell is an ardent Clintonite from the “old school” world of machine politics.

Finally, consider who looks the best on the poster with Obama. Which prospect visually emanates “CHANGE that works for you”? The [[Vetting Zoo VP Prospectus chart]] has more information on the following individuals.

Regionally, there are seven prospects from the West: Gov. Jane Napolitano of Arizona (EV=9), Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana (EV=3), Gov. (and former Clinton cabinet officer) Bill Richardson of New Mexico (EV=5), Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado (EV=9), Gov. Sebelius of Kansas (EV=6), and Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska (EV=5). Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri (EV=11) was another early and capable Obama supporter. Sebelius’s father was governor of Ohio but whether that can be parlayed into actual votes is another matter.

The “Sons of the South” include Gen. Wesley Clark of Arkansas (EV=5), Tennessee's Fmr. VP Al Gore (EV=11), Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (EV=13), Florida Sen. Bill Nelson (EV=27) and Fmr. N.C. Sen. John Edwards (EV=15). Fmr. Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia (EV=15) was chairman of the Military Affairs Committee and is an expert on non-proliferation. A look at the electoral map shows the six-state arc between North Carolina north and west to Michigan-Indiana as the region that can tip the balance strongly and unassailably towards a substantial Democratic majority.

Obama's Great Lakes neighbor Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana (EV=11) was also on the “short list” in 2000. From the East are New York Sen. Hillary Clinton (EV=31), Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry (EV=12), Connecticut’s Sen. Chris Dodd (EV=7), Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware (EV=3), and Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania (EV=21). Pennsylvania’s Representative John Murtha is also mentioned but unlikely. Obama’s difficult balance that I am observing is the necessity to evolve to a Smart Trade policy (precluding Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio (EV=20) and perhaps Edwards) while closing off the issue against McCain expressing support for “free trade.”

The military is well represented by Gen. Tony McPeak (Air Force), Admiral Anthony Zinni, Former Secretary of Navy Richard Danzig, and General James Jones as well as Ret. Gen. Wesley Clarke, Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska (EV=5), and former Army Ranger and now Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island (EV=4), plus Webb and Kerry. Sun Tze’s classic “Art of War” is clear that the decision to commit war is the most serious ever made by a head of state.

The selection scenario will tighten to the very short list of Virginia's Sen. Webb and Gov. Kaine, Gov. Sebelius of Kansas, the foreign affairs expert Sen. Biden, the unobtrusive Sen. Bayh (fresh face for decades, right?) and Fmr. Sen. Edwards waiting in the wings. Obama is hoping for all Pros and no “Cons.” At August 1, my short list is Biden, Bayh and Kaine; dark horses are Gov. Schweitzer and Wesley Clark. ///

Top Five Political Movies

MANHATTAN, New York (August 2, 2008) virtuality: movies

We Americans swim in a river of political conflict and dialectical exchange to such a degree that we forget democracy is the fragile element of our realm and we are but various schools of fish (i.e., Swimming in Tao). When the process gets blocked or bottled up, the flow stops and the fluid element becomes brackish very quickly. Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff and uber-shadow Dick Cheney come into view as surreal denizens in a cloudy murky cesspool of ill content. My realization was - given the richness of the environment - how few really good political movies involving campaigns and elections have ever been made.

1. The Manchurian Candidate (1962) Directed-produced by John Frankenheimer
A political party is extorted to place the brainwashed Congressman and presumed war hero Raymond Shaw on its ticket as vice president. (See Veepstakes Vetting Zoo.) His mother, Senator Eleanor Prentiss Shaw (played by Angela Lansbury), has a zombie assassin (Frank Sinatra !) preparing to shoot the Presdential nominee. She will weild the power of the United States through her "subliminally conditioned" son. The 1962 version (remade in 2004) was sensationally pre-cognitive and theatrical release was withdrawn after the Kennedy assassination.

2. Z (1969 - French) Directed by Costas-Gavras
Military junta assassinates Socialist peace candidate in Greece. His Deputy (Yves Montand) and the Magistrate (Jean-Louis Trintignant) investigate. Well worth the post-viewing depression. Disclaimer: "Any resemblance to real events, to persons living or dead, is not accidental. It is DELIBERATE." A key historical note in that the Magistrate becomes President years later.

3. Bob Roberts (1992) Directed, written (script & songs) and starring Tim Robbins. The fantastic songs were co-written with older brother Dave Robbins.
This mockumentary of Pennsylvania Senatorial campaign reveals the "rebel christian" folk singer Bob roberts to be corrupt, crooked and connected to the C.I.A. Bob sings and sells patriotic ultra-conservatism; he lives and lies to the contrary. Gore Vidal acts as the liberal incumbent opponent in his finest role. Movie is based on a SNL 1986 skit - best of its kind.

4. The Candidate (1972) Directed by Michael Ritchie
Robert Redford as "Bill McKay - the Better Way" represents the liberal idealist lawyer who becomes an "outsider" Senatorial candidate. He is also a dynastic scion who is persuaded into the race by his father, a former governor. This leads to important character transitions as the battle toughens up. (Dare I say "dark horse"?)

5. Citizen Kane (1941) Directed, Produced, Co-Written (with Herman Mankiewicz) & Starring Orson Welles!!! Mercury Theater Players featured including fabulous Joseph Cotton.
Sexual scandal with a "singer" brings down an all-powerful condidate for New York Governor. Circumstance and extortion thwart Kane's presidential ambitions. (See recent Gov. Spitzer Goes Down and "Tutela Valu" Ashley Dupre.) The karmic turnaround is a major turning point in the greatest film ever made. The Bernard Herrmann soundtrack for Kane (married to the niece of the President) changes its tune.

In summary, a museum compendium of clips from our selection (i.e., the linkage set among these political movies) would include: Corruption, hypocrisy, amoral expedience, media manipulation, dirty dealing, connivance, brainwashing, scandal, betrayal, dark humor, deadly deceit, assassination and karmic retribution. Cautionary note: No republic in the history of manind has lasted more than 300 years (OK, maybe Iceland - thank you, Bjork). Countdown is 96 days and re-count, so enjoy the election! ///

Friday, August 1, 2008

What's The Diff? – John Edwards

POLITIX - reposted from Edwardian HDQ Site
MANHATTAN (August 1, 2008)

"What's The Diff? – John Edwards" was formatted and edited to fit one sheet front-back for easily printable campaign tabling hand-outs.

John Edwards is distinctly different from the other major Democratic candidates on a number of key issues. These briefs, as stated by Leo Hindery (see below), specifically point out where or how Edwards’ proposals and policies diverge from or substantially advance beyond the others. Website links to further in-depth analysis accompany each answer.

Electability in November 2008
John Edwards continues to prove that his appeal extends well beyond traditional Democratic strongholds. He continues to perform very well against the Republican White House hopefuls in general election match-ups, and recent polls in states like Ohio, Iowa and Missouri show that John Edwards is the Democrat most likely to carry those vital battleground states in a general election. Numerous leaders of the labor movement have cited electability as one of the reasons their unions have endorsed John Edwards. It is a reality that Democratic elected officials, party leaders and strategists around the country have expressed concern that Senator Clinton would hurt Democratic candidates in down-ballot races. http://johnedwards.com/news/press-releases/20071018-true-blue-majority/

Middle East – End The Iraq War
John Edwards is the only major candidate who will withdraw all combat troops from Iraq within ten months. He opposes the Ccongressional action that Hillary Clinton recently voted for that could be the first step toward military action against Iran.
John Edwards believes there is no military solution to the chaos in Iraq. Instead, the Iraqi people must solve the problem politically by taking responsibility for their country. http://johnedwards.com/issues/iraq/
John Edwards believes that the U.S. must show the Iraqis that we are serious about leaving by actually starting to leave. American intention must be demonstrated by immediately drawing -down approximately 50,000 troops. A withdrawal of all combat troops within ten months would follow. John Edwards strongly supports the supplemental spending bill passed by both Houses of Congress and vetoed by President Bush that funds the troops with a timetable for withdrawal. He continues to call for Congress to respond to the President’s veto by sending back the same bill – and doing this as many times as it takes for the President to end the war. John Edwards believes it is of the utmost importance that we prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons. However, he opposes the designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard as a “terrorist organization,” which Hillary Clinton supported. As President, John Edwards would take aggressive steps to resolve this situation and to protect the United States and our allies. http://johnedwards.com/issues/iran/ http://blog.johnedwards.com/story/2007/11/5/122520/049

Energy, Security and Environment
John Edwards was the first to endorse aggressive science-based caps on global warming: 20% below current levels by 2020 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, receiving the unanimous endorsement of the national environmental organization Friends of the Earth Action. http://johnedwards.com/issues/energy/new-energy-economy/
John Edwards led all candidates by being the first to support a cut in global warming gasses to be achieved through a cap and trade system. He has called for a $13 billion per year New Energy Economic Fund to support research and development in energy technology, funded in part by a windfall profits tax on oil companies. He has called for 25% of electricity produced from renewable sources by 2025, and for all new cars built after 2010 to be flex-fuel vehicles. John Edwards has proposed a Green Collar Jobs initiative to train and employ at least 150,000 workers a year in new energy economy jobs. He also overwhelmingly won MoveOn's “Virtual Town Hall” on climate change issues. John Edwards opposes construction of any new nuclear energy plants andor any new coal-fired energy plants that do not possess carbon capture and storage technology. He is against subsidies for coal liquefaction.

John Edwards recognizes the linkage between security, energy and counterterrorism. His landmark speech, "A New Strategy Against Terrorism," presented a bold vision of how this nation can proceed into the 21st Century with steadfast confidence defined by the two principles of strength and cooperation. As President, John Edwards will restore America's mantle of moral leadership in the world. http://johnedwards.com/news/speeches/a-new-strategy-against-terrorism/ U.S. and Global Economies – “Fair Trade” and Job Growth“It's time we honored work in this country, not just wealth.” John Edwards has the most specific proposals of any candidate to restore tax fairness, to enhance competitiveness and job growth, and to re-negotiate free trade agreements so they are once again fair trade agreements. In the breadth and detail of his proposals, John Edwards differs substantially from the other candidates.

John Edwards is informed by the fact that 300,000 taxpayers make half of the nation’s income, while 150 million make the other half, which represents the greatest income inequality in this country since 1928. This reality has been exacerbated by the combination of unfair tax practices, the ill effects of unfair globalization, and trade policies that mostly enrich multinational corporations and certainly not workers. Regarding “fair trade,” John Edwards is for strong labor and environmental standards and against illegal subsidies and currency manipulation. He is also for rigorous enforcement of trade agreements, not just negotiation. Only John Edwards has called for raising the minimum wage to $9.50 and creating a new test for trade: Will new deals benefit working families, not just multinational corporations? http://johnedwards.com/issues/working-families/

Universal Health Care
John Edwards was the first candidate to announce a detailed plan for universal health care and has been honest about how he would pay for it – by repealing Bush’s tax cuts for the rich. His plan could evolve into a single-payer approach as everyone is offered the option of a public plan as an alternative to insurance companies.

John Edwards was also the first presidential candidate – Democratic or Republican – to advocate taking on the big insurance and drug companies and to propose a plan for quality, affordable heath care for every man, woman and child in America. John Edwards has also put forward specific proposals for bringing down health care costs, improving the quality of care, fighting cancer, HIV/AIDS and strengthening the nursing workforce. http://johnedwards.com/issues/health-care/

Education
John Edwards is the only major candidate to propose a comprehensive education plan (Smart Start) that coordinates education, health care and family support services for children before they enter school.
The Edwards education plan would increase incentives for teachers in high-poverty schools as well as improve training and mentoring programs for teachers. John Edwards advocates a radical overhaul of No Child Left Behind based on the understanding that teachers, not tests, are the single most important factor in successful schools. http://blog.johnedwards.com/story/2007/10/23/124521/45 http://johnedwards.com/issues/education/

Housing
John Edwards will help low-income families move to better neighborhoods by creating one million new housing vouchers, phasing out housing projects that concentrate poverty in fixed locations, and investing in revitalizing dilapidated neighborhoods.

Leo Hindery, Jr.
Leo Hindery, Jr. serves as the campaign's Senior Economic Advisor. John Edwards describes him as a “respected leader in the business community who is well known throughout the country as a strong voice for people who often aren’t heard and for responsible economic and trade policies.” He co-founded, along with Russian Federation Council Chairman Sergey Mironov, Transatlantic Partners Against AIDS (TPAA), and received from the Asia Society its Founders Award for his efforts in the international fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Notable among his many credentials (e.g., Chair of the Horizon Project developing economic and trade policy recommendations for the 110th Congress) and business accomplishments in cable media, Mr. Hindery recently received the “Keeper of the Dream” Award from the National Action Network for his efforts on behalf of equality and worker rights.

Mr. Hindery responded to a request for statements specifically stating the differences among the three major Democratic contenders. This arose from his representing John Edwards in the NYC presidential forum sponsored by the major progressive Democratic political clubs. This environment provided for a candor the candidates themselves are often restrained from expressing. 400 attended the dual Manhattan event held at the upper west side Symphony Space and the L.G.B.T. Community Center in the Village. ///

Bikinis & Slave Labor

POLITIX - Reposted from Edwardian HDQ Site
MANHATTAN (August 1, 2008)

Now that your attention has been commanded, jot this down: Obama (and Clinto dis so as well) has expressed his support for and intention to for vote the Peru FTA. Edwards supports Smart Trade rather than NAFTA-style extension of so-called "free trade" agreements.

"The problem is that these [FTA] deals ... are primarily about protecting the rights of capital. You can never hope to enforce labor rights (or for that matter environmental protections) under a regime that is focused on profit first, and community second. It will not happen. And all the statements to the contrary are just rubbish. Why we would pretend that labor rights can be enforced as an after-thought, as a secondary issue, in countries around the world - when we can't even enforce basic labor rights here (such as safety and health regulations) because they are subject to politics and the free reign of the so-called 'free market' - exposes the true fallacy of so-called 'free trade.'" - Jonathan Tasini (Clinton's primary opponent for the New York Senate seat)
Tasini's latest HuffPo article points out that even model (pun intended) deals such as Jordan use exploitable "imported" labor from Bangladesh. "Victoria's Secret, Slave Labor And So-Called "Free Trade" LINK http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-tasini/victorias-secret-slave-_b_74261.html

Edwards advocates for Smart Trade: "Globalization, technological change and outdated labor and workplace laws have fundamentally changed our economy and redistributed the benefits of economic growth upwards. Equally fundamental change is needed to ensure our economy once again rewards work."

Hillary Clinton tried in the last debate to laugh off the NAFTA fiasco but roughly 20 million Americans in 1992 not only thought that Ross Perot was correct but voted their convictions. Remember that "giant sucking sound" represented millions of jobs that have been lost. Those 20 million are independent swing voters that a Democratic winner will need.

Roughly ten percent (estimated two million) of those voters have since been job losers due to outsourcing or trade-related displacement. That's ten percent of Perot's vote total versus the entire American workforce of 150 million losing roughly five million jobs or 3.3 percent. Those voters knew who they were and their vulnerability. Present projections for outsourcing or trade-related displacements range from 15 to 20 million. YOU know who you are and your vulnerability.

Harry Truman said it correctly for all time: "Don't vote for me. Vote for yourselves!" ///

The Substance of Transformation

REPOST in POLITIX (August 1, 2008)
michael duby in Arguments & Analyses Edwardian HDQ Site
from 12/22/2007 at 9:14 PM EST

Fmr. Senator John Edwards continues to be an Advocate of Transformation

The American people must rise up and seize the historical opportunity to impact the direction of our country. Domestically, the three major difficulties confronting working families are lack of universal health care, income disparity and unfair trade policies.

Above and beyond the statements of progressive policies, John Edwards is the candidate committed to truly and steadfastly advocate and "fight" for the nation's (mostly working) people of low-income and the 47 million Americans who desperately need health insurance. The big insurance and drug companies will need serious persuasion to allow the implementation of universal health care that is a fundamental right recognized in all other advanced economies and societies. Our present system is a structural hindrance to the well-being of the American labor force.

In a country of 300 million, 300,000 at the top make more income that the bottom 150 million of America's earning taxpayers. The Bush administration provided additional tax cuts for these super wealthy in an amount that would essentially pay for universal health care. Over the past 20 years, 40 percent of income growth has gone to the top one percent while wages for the bottom 90 percent have remained stagnant. This represents the greatest income inequality in this country since 1928.

This reality is due to the combination of unfair tax practices, ill effects of unbalanced globalization and trade policies that mostly enrich multinational corporations, but certainly not workers. It is well known and recognized that John Edwards is for strong labor and environmental standards and against illegal subsidies and currency manipulation. He is also for rigorous enforcement of trade agreements, not just negotiation.

The third major obstacle to American working families is unfair so-called "free trade" agreements. Edwards has the most specific proposals of any candidate to restore tax fairness, to enhance competitiveness and job growth, and to re-negotiate trade agreements so they are once again fair. In the breadth and detail of his proposals, John Edwards differs substantially from the other candidates. Only Edwards has advocated a fundamental standard for "Smart Trade" deals: Will the agreements benefit working families, not just multinational corporations?

The Economic Policy Institute ("EPI") recently underlined the concern about the growing impact of unfair trade agreements and practices on America's working families. EPI concluded that 25 to 30 million American jobs - about one in five American jobs in states all across the nation - are at risk for being offshored over the next decade. These are not just manufacturing jobs; EPI reports jobs most at risk are those requiring at least a four-year college degree. Those workers and their families will be substantially more secure with Edwards as chief executive.

The lobbyist-dominated system and practical realpolitics of Washington contribute to lack of universal health care, disadvantageous trade deals, cheap foreign labor, illegal foreign subsidies and foreign currency manipulation. American workers are being incrementally devastated. The American middle class is being pushed down and they know it. "It's time we honored work in this country, not just wealth." - John Edwards ////