Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

August 29, 2008

After the Speech (2): The One Mistake Was…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 7:00 am

…the line about bin Laden. About how John McCain says he’ll “follow him to the gates of hell, but he won’t follow him to the cave where he lives.”

Huh? So you’re saying you (and presumably McCain) know where he lives? It invites a response from the McCain campaign. “Okay let us know the GPS of the cave and we’ll go in after him together.”

My theory: this is a direct echo of John Kerry’s failed line in 2004 that he knew where in Tora Bora bin Laden could have been caught. I have a feeling it was probably Kerry’s “contribution” to the speech and Obama trying to take him seriously.

But I guess this is an attempt to blame another for an Obama error. He’s not perfect, but he’s far, far better than any nominee my party has offered since JFK, though JFK was far from perfect, I know. Maybe he’s the best since FDR.


After the Speech (1): The One Word I'd Use to Sum Up Obama is…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 6:38 am

…self-possession. It’s a word I’ve been searching for ever since I was struck by the way he connected with audiences, and predicted his nomination win last November on this blog.

He really is his own person. Which is something I don’t think can be said about many other politicians on the scene. Not swayed by the petty carping of the “I’m not a racist, but…” opponents on the right. Nor co-opted by the juvenile hysteria of some on the left. (Vide his line in the speech about being able to disagree with people without attacking their character).

For those who dwell on his youth and inexperience, there are a lot of politicans who are older but not wiser. Incapable of learning anything, they haven’t reached maturity whatever their age.

This guy is both wiser than his critics (look at how simple minded the anti-Obama commenters look by comparison, driven crazy by the fact that he’s smarter than they are)–and savvy enough to be able to learn from experience.

And he’s no pushover. He didn’t wrest the Democratic nomination from the death grip of the Clinton crime family by being Ghandian. He did it by outwitting them and out-toughing them. His favorite movie, remember, is The Godfather.

That’s it really: I’ve alway said the people who caricature him as an effete Adlai Stevenson elitist are way off. He’s got the self-possession and the strategic wisdom of Michael Corleone.

August 24, 2008

Biden is a Clown, But Racists Are Not just Stupid but…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 5:55 pm

…ignorant and immoral. It’s a sad truth but when you write about Obama, you find that there still are flat-out undisguised racists out there. They don’t seem to recognize how pathetic they sound; it’s like they missed a step in evolution.

And the worst racists are cowards who too timid to use their real name. I’ve long had a policy against posting racist, abusive, obscene comments, especially by anonymous cowards, but some seem to slip by the moderation I’ve given into because I can’t spend my whole life monitoring them personally. But I apologize for those that do.

Nonetheless they’re instructive: reading them is reason enough to want Obama to win. It’s why I say it will be a civil rights victory, and redemption for our greatest national sin. Yes, we’re a great country and our ideals are noble. But there was this hideous thing called slavery embedded in the Constititution for a century. I’m in favor of every excluded minority getting its day in the sun, but blacks were literally–and “legally”–enslaved, raped and murdered by the hundreds of thousands, probably millions if you count the causalties of the “Middle Passage” in the centuries before the Consittution. Anyone who thinks this is something we can bury without coming to terms with is foolish.*

All you people out there who oppose Obama on issue grounds, I have no quarrel (except on the issues) with you. But you should know that your anti-Obama cause is being befouled by racists. Not just the “subtle” ones who can’t bear a non white being called “smart”, or find some other transparently fraudulent reason to speak viciously about Obama, but overt spittle flecked haters. Move on, you’re obviously lonely and filled with bitterness and failure, you’ll find lots of kindred souls on David Duke’s website.

Still, every racist comment is just one more argument for electing Obama president.

* For my further thoughts on the question see this.

More Fun With Joe: The Guy is a Republican at Heart

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 10:02 am

It’s almost sad how clueless Joe Biden is. (“clueless Joe” may replace “shoeless Joe” as an American icon of a sort, though in this case an icon of dimness). He’s so proud of the supposed wisdom of his father that he quotes it yesterday at his unveiling:

“I was an Irish-Catholic kid from Scranton with a father who like many of yours in tough economic times fell on hard times, but my mom and dad raised me to believe, it’s a saying Barack you heard me say before, my dad repeated it and repeated it. Said champ, it’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how quickly you get up. It’s how quickly you get up. Ladies and gentlemen, that’s your story. That’s America’s story. It’s about if you get up, you can make it.”

And if you can’t, tough luck. Poor clueless Joe, he’s so proud of Pappy’s alleged wisdom.

Because this is essentially a Republican slogan. Anti-New Deal rugged individualism with contempt for those who need help. It basically says in times of misfortune you’re on your own. If you can’t overcome being fired or foreclosed or struck down by disease, if Fate knocks you down the way it can the best of us and you can’t manage by yourself, than too bad, you’re just a loser by Joe’s lights, or by the lights of his father.

A Democrat, Barack Obama, one hopes, even a compassionate conservative would say; there are times when people need a helping hand and that it’s a more humane thing to do– to help them up rather than to watch them squirm in the dust, trying to get up after they’ve been knocked down (say by one of the credit card companies or banks that financed Joe’s career as a Delaware servant of America’s economy-destroying finance comanies in the Senate.)

But I guess this explains why he sponsored the cruel anti-consumer bankruptcy bill for his paymasters. Still it doesn’t quite explain Biden’s intellectual bankruptcy. He doesn’t even know what party philosophy he espouses.

You wonder why I seem irate about clueless Joe. Because I think it would be an electrifying, transformative thing to elect our first non white President, the final triumph of the civil rights movement. And I think bloviating Joe could easily ruin it.

August 23, 2008

Biden's First Gaffe! Right out of the block, he's weirding us out like Nixon

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 5:09 pm

It’s starting. Here via ABC News is my man Joe in a cringemaking “joke” about his wife’s “problem”:

“Ladies and gentlemen, my wife Jill, who you’ll meet soon, is drop dead gorgeous,” said Biden.

“She also has her doctorate degree, which is a problem,” he added. “But all kidding aside, my Jill, my Jill, my wife Jill and I are honored to join Barack and Michelle on this journey, because that’s what it is, it’s a journey.”

OK, all kidding aside, Joe, what do you mean “problem”? For whom? For you? For her? For voters? (she’s too “elite”?). A problem because she makes you look dumb? Maybe that’s it, he’s trying to be self deprecating to take the edge off the bragging, but can’t quite bring himself to do it, because he doesn’t think there’s anything to be self deprecating about?

Ladies and gentlemen, you know what we have here? We have a man who is as cringingly unable to be funny when he tries to make a joke as the true master of that particular talent: Richard Nixon.

And his miscues are baroque enough to earn their own flava: Bidenesque. I’ll continue to track them but welcome any submissions in comments.

As Joe says “It’s a journey”. Right, and for poor Barack it’s going to be like he’s Steve Martin and Biden is John Candy in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. What was he thinking?

A Huge Mistake

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 7:43 am

Not just my mistake in predicting Nunn for Obama veep (see previous post) even though I stand by my assessment of Biden:

Biden’s sagacity and earnestness act would only go over in the class of dummies that is the U.S. Senate..

But a huge mistake by Obama in choosing a self-important clown for vice president, a choice that is the gift that will keep on giving to his opponent throughout the rest of the election. Biden has proven himself incapable of opening his mouth without making you cringe at his self-congratulatory pretentiousness.

But why? One thing I always felt about Obama was that he wouldn’t be rolled, played, by traditonal pols. And yet there is evidence that’s what happened. It turns out he surrounded himself with top staffers from loser hacks like Dick Gephardt, the kind of people who are revered in the Senate “class of dummies” I referred to. Beltway brilliant. Smart only in sucking up to reporters. The only kind of people who could take Joe Biden seriously and don’t realize how they’ve betrayed the trust of Obama supporters who believed that he was something different. Not only betrayed his supporters, betrayed Obama.

And he seems to have listenened to them. What other explanation for picking a fool who tried to pander to southrn racists in the primaries by calling his own state, Delaware, a “former slave state”. Which he somehow seemed to think would give him common ground with voters proud of their former slave state status. [corected error here:Delaware, a former slave state was not a former Confederate state, which led to confusion on my part. Mea culpa, thanks for calling it to my attention.]. Sorry, this man is a shameful blowhard. Anyone who watched him ask his painfully obvious attempts to show-off phony constitutional erudition at a Supreme Court nominee’s hearing could tell you this.

Doesn’t it count that he used an unmistakable racist slur to describe Obama (He’s “clean” unlike I guess, all the other people of color Biden has encountered in his “former slave state”. The people of color who didn’t work in 7-11s which is apparently all Biden knew of his state’s Indian citizens).

The guy is a walking gaffe, and not innocent gaffes but one that reveal a confused dim witted persona inside.

I have to admit I’m in a state of shock.

August 19, 2008

Obama Veep: Nunn is the One if You Want Gravitas; Biden has None

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 8:44 am

Since all my predictions about Obama made back in November, when the press was calling him dead in the water (look it up!) have all come true. (Win Iowa , lose New Hampshire, win nomination) I know the world will be hanging on this one, made shortly before noon Tuesday August 19.

(Okay I did, at a later date, predict Jim Webb as veep choice and that seems unlikely. He withdrew his name, though I wouldn’t rule out him being “persuaded”.)

But I do have a strong feeling now that if Obama is as smart and shrewd as I think he is (no drama, but no dreamer) and he wants gravitas, especially in the wake of Georgia, Russia and all that, he’ll have made up his mind when that mini war broke out last Friday. And would have chosen Sam Nunn.

Nunn’s flown under the radar for a lot of folk in the past decade, but he’s doggedly devoted himself to a forgotten but all-important cause: the reduction of nuclear weapons, security of the nuclear arsenals that remain, relentless attention to non proliferation. His Nuclear Threat Initiative organization has kept its eye on the prize–making us more secure in a proliferating nuclear environment–while nobody else has paid nearly enough attention to it.

It has meant that Nunn knows Russia, he’s dealt with civilian and military authorities on all levels for a decade. He’s someone who must distrust Putin, who won’t be fooled by him, but who can probably hit the ground running as the most knowledgeable person about dealing with him. And with his nukes. And with all the other nukes floating around.

So that’s my prediction: the choice of Nunn will be hailed as brilliant. And it will be.

But the choice of Biden? For gravitas? Give me a break. I’ll never forget sitting in the Senate gallery before an important (to those of us who care about civil liberties) vote on an idiot flag burning bill meant to pander to those historically ignorant enough not to realize America was founded by dissidents who wouldn’t bow down to a graven image.

Biden had co sponsored it in an attempt, supposedly, to head off a Constitutional Amendment. Bob Kerrey, who lost a leg in Vietnam–for love of country not a painted piece of cloth–wasn’t going along with this cynical ploy.

Anyway down on the Senate floor, shortly before Kerrey was to give a brilliant speech on the question, Biden came up to Kerrey and in an oil way put his arm around Kerrey as if, it’s all politics, and I thought I saw Kerrey cringe.

I wouldn’t blame him. Biden’s sagacity and earnestness act would only go over in the class of dummies that is the U.S. Senate.

If Obama doesn’t pick Nunn, he’ll have missed an opportunity. But go to that website anyway. You may not agree with his approach to the long obscured nuclear dilemmas we face, but it might shake you out of a state of denial. Props to Nunn for sticking with it.

August 11, 2008

Olympics Shame: Georgia Shows It Once Again a Tool of Tyrants

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 6:08 am

Do you think the timing was accidental? While they shilled for the Party of mass murderers in China, the Olypmics served as a useful diversion for the Putinizing of Georgia. Wasn’t it convenient that Putin had George Bush where he wanted him, in the weirdly powerful KGB mental karate powerlock of his gaze. (Remember Bush’s pathetic “I looked into his eyes and knew I could trust him”?).

Once again–and I’m certain it entered into Putin’s calculations–the whole world was pretending to be celebrating the oneness of the human spirit–and thus much too busy to pay attention to the crushing of a democratic nation. The media as usual was complicit in not wishing to let a potentially world-changing tragedy to distract it very much. Come on! The U.S. swim team is piling up the gold!

Meanwhile the bodies are piling up on the streets of Georgia. All hail the Olympic spirit!

August 7, 2008

Could Hillary Be Plotting Something?

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 6:24 am

Probably not. But I bet the thought has crossed her mind, certainly Bill’s bitter brain. The thought first crossed my mind when as far back as May, the issue of whether she would allow herself to be nominated and let her delegates vote for her was raised and not resolved. In fact I raised it even earlier than that in a post here about why Hillary kept hanging on after the numbers were against her. I’d suggested she wanted the historic and symbolic meaningfulness of allowing her self to be nominated at the convention, allowing her near-majority of delegates to demonstrate their strength (for a national television audience, for the future) and as a milestone for women in politics.

Then, when the numbers clearly indicated she lost and she sort of conceded, the question of whether she’d still have her name put in nomination just hung there. Was it a requirement of the primary system that her pledged delegates vote for her at the convention. And if it wasn’t a requirement that pledged delegates vote for whom they were selected then Obama’s delegates were free to change their minds weren’t they? Seemed like an opening.

At first I thought one aspect of Obama’s foreign trip was to demonstrate to the world that the nomination was signed, sealed and delivered. But don’t forget we’re dealing with the Clintons, and the foreign trip may have backfired in the polls.

And now Obama’s people have announced that they want the Florida and Michigan results fully counted, not cut in half. Which means that in some calculations Hillary moves ahead in the primary popular vote count, and closer in the delegate count.

And then the clincher for me: Hillary publicly declared “I don’t want to be nominated.” Translation in Hillary speak: “I have to say this, but what I’m really saying is that there’s nothing to bar me from being nominated”–otherwise why so conspicuously beg her supporters not to, unless she wanted to remind them that they could–“and so if some of you PUMAS out there want to nominate me and see if by then some super delegates, even pledged delegates have changed their mind and want to get a kind of Wendall Willie draft thing going, well gosh, I guess I’d have to respect their fervor. After all I asked them not to, but I can’t help it if they love me and feel I’ll be better for the party.”

And now two weeks before the convention the matter has still not been resolved and more people are beginning to wonder if her failure to close off the option is part of a deliberate strategy. See this piece in the American Thinker.

I don’t think there’s a realistic possibility, but it’s clear the Clintons are positioning themselves in case lightning strikes in some form. Cue the (false) ending of every horror movie ever made where things seem safe at last.

In any case if she’s not plotting to steal the nomination, she should immediately say to her delegates, I release you from your pledge, all I want is a prime time speech. But even if she does, you know that in a certain part of her mind she’s maintaining the “audacity of hope”.

August 2, 2008

The Anthrax Attack, Vanity Fair and The Shakespeare Connection

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 11:09 am

\ I was going to write about it earlier this year when the news emerged that the government had paid off the former chief anthrax “person of interest”, Steven Hatfill, $5.8 million dollars for subjecting him to what they admitted was wrongful suspicion. I was going to write about the “Shakespeare Connection”.

But I wasn’t sure if would be beating a dead horse: said metaphorical horse being the pseudo-science of “forensic linguistics” promoted by so called “Shakespeare Super Sleuth” Don Foster, the Vassar professor who gave us the “The Great Shakespeare ‘Funeral Elegy’ Fiasco” as I called it in The Shakespeare Wars. Foster used the fame from his later-discredited claim that he had identified a previously unrecognized long poem–a barely readable 600 line snoozathon–as a lost work of Shakespeare’ it became a foundation for a self-promoting career as a “super sleuth”, in high-profile criminal cases which featured Foster claiming his “science” of “foresnic linguisitcs” couild identify the lingusitic “fingerprints” of potential suspects, and nail them for a crime they might otherwise have gotten away with.

One problem. He was often wrong. He was wrong about the wretched poem he claimed he found Shakespeare’s fingerprints in. He was wrong in the Jon Benet case, wrong in somehow convincing Vanity Fair that he could shed light on the anthrax case. Poor gullible VF (disclosure: I wrote for them regularly and feel bad theyapparently allowed Foster to convince them he had any particular crime solving skills).

Especially with the revelation in today’s Times about VF and their “super sleuth”.

It turns out Foster had been forced to retract his Shakespearean claim, thus pulling the rug out of the inflated self-image he ‘d built upon it. And now it turns out that he has retracted his Vanity Fair story and that he and VF have had to apologize for Foster’s article.

According to today’s (August 2, 2008)’s Times :

Dr. Hatfill also sued Vanity Fair for publishing along with Reader’s Digest which published a condensed version. As part of a 2007 settlement, other terms of which were confidential, the defendants issued a statement retracting any implication that Dr. Hatfill had been behind the attacks.”

Amazing! Why haven’t we heard about this latest Don Foster retraction? (I published excerpts from the first one in my book).* What is the text of the retraction? “Confidential terms:” suggests money was aid too. How much responsibility did Foster take? Didn’t anybody at least Google his past failures?

A question better asked about whoever, if any, anthrax investigators cooperated with Foster and took his “forensic linguistics” seriously. For all we know it could be the endorsement of Foster’s “science” that kept the government on the trail of the wrong suspect. Old fashioned investigators always seem to be intimidated by those who used computers and Foster frquently claimed computer basis for his “forensic lingusitics” claims.

But there may be more to it. I found myself fascinated by this Glenn Greenwald article. which makes a pretty persuasive case that the pre-suicide scientist, Bruce Ivins was at the very least involved in spinning the investigation, spreading false information that would link the genomic “fingerprints” of the anthrax to Iraq. (The “bentonite clue” for those of you who have read the Greenwald piece.) Greenwald wants to know if the sources who fed ABC News (lead Hatfill accuser in the media, were part of a disinformation conspiracy. Could Ivins have been a part? Could Ivins have been a source for the Foster/VF piece. If not then who? Foster and VF could help solve the crime and reveal if there were people in the government invovled in spreading deliberate disinformation that added its weight to the false intelligence about Iraqi WMD that helped to lead us into war.

I found Greenwald’s insistence that the ABC news investigative team give up its sources if it turns out they were deliberate liars, persuasive but problematic, since I’m against reporters being forced to reveal sources by the government</em. But looked at another way they may be sitting on a big news story and that voluntary disclosure that they’d been tricked might be valuable to closing the case, especially if Ivins was a source.

it seems to me that VF should, at the very least, question Foster about whether Ivins was a source and then consider voluntary disclosure if he was. Better for them to quiz Foster before the Feds decide to quiz them about his sources.

It’s too bad because I’ve come to feel a kind of fondness for Foster who gave me such a great character, and chapter, for my book. Perfectly illustrated the perils of Shakeseare intoxication.

Was Foster merely misled by vanity, as he appeared to be with Shakespeare and Jon Benet (bet you never thought you ‘d hear those two in the same sentence). Or was he the vicitim of sinister forces.

Frankly, I think the “sinister force” may be the vengeful ghost of Shakespeare who put a curse on all future Foster endeavors because Foster tried to pin that wretched poem on him.

*UPDATE: (8/4): I see that Richard Fernandez in his thoughtful post on the subject has a link to a New York Sun story from February 2007, which quotes from the settlement Conde Nast agreed to on behalf of Foster and VF. According to The Sun this is the key portion:

“Neither Condé Nast Publications nor the article’s author intended to imply that they had concluded that Steven J. Hatfill, M.D., perpetrated the anthrax attacks that occurred in the United States in the fall of 2001. To the extent any statements contained in the article might be read to convey that Condé Nast and Prof. Foster were accusing Dr. Hatfill of perpetrating these attacks, Condé Nast and Prof. Foster retract any such implication,” the statement said. The statement from Reader’s Digest was essentially identical.

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