Donald Trump: All Talk, No Votes

Donald Trump likes to lecture about how Ed Koch is duping the public and how, under the mayor’s lead­ership, the city has begun to fall apart. The developer/civics instructor talks a good game — and he has the newspaper clips to prove it — but when it comes to stepping into a voting booth, Trump falls silent.

Board of Elections records reveal that Trump, since registering as a Republican in October 1969, has voted a total of 10 times. Since the 1976 presidential total elec­tion, Trump has only voted three times. During this 11-year period, Trump has sat out the following races:

  • General elections for mayor, city council president, comptroller, and bor­ough president in 1977, 1981, and 1985. As a Republican, Trump was eligible to vote in his party’s primaries in those years as well. He missed them too.
  • Gubernatorial general elections in 1982 and 1986 as well as a Republican primary for governor in 1982.
  • State Senate and Assembly races in 1982 and 1986 as well as city council races in 1977, 1982, and 1985.

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Since he registered to vote, Trump has had more than 40 separate opportunities to vote on Election Day. These elections involved more than 150 offices and hun­dreds of candidates.

Trump, 41, registers to vote out of his father’s home on Midland Parkway, Jamaica, but he has not lived there for years. His drivers license also carries the Queens address, but the developer actually splits his time between his pied-a-terre in Trump Tower and his mansion Greenwich, Connecticut.

State election law states that the ad­dress a voter registers from must be that voter’s legal residence. While Trump is technically violating this provision, this kind of deception is so widespread — among regular voters and elected office holders — prosecutions are unheard of.

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According to a study by State Senator Franz Leichter, Trump appears to prefer to vote with his money. The developer has given more money — almost $250,000 — in the past five years to members of the Board of Estimates than any other individual.

Trump recently called for Koch to quit (“he can’t hack it anymore,” the developer has said), and was spurred by the mayor’s handling of negotiations to keep NBC from moving its headquarters to New Jersey, instead to to Trump’s Television City site on the West Side. The New Jersey property NBC is considering is owned by Leonard Stern, who also owns the Voice as well. Trump has also called for a special counsel to investigate the mayor’s role in the Myerson/Capasso/Gabel scandal that broke last week.

On Monday, the Post reported that Republican Leaders have decided to ask Trump to opposed Koch for reelection in 1989. A Trump spokesman told the Post that the developer “has no thoughts about running for mayor whatsoever.” The Voice could not reach Trump for comment about his lackluster voting record. ■

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Mayor de Blasio’s Quest to Fix NY Voting Laws: ‘We Are Just Backwards’

Anyone who stood in line at a polling place or missed the registration deadline for this year’s general election will tell you: voting in New York is not easy. Even if you make it inside the voting booth, it’s easy to be discouraged when so many races are either lopsided or uncontested. In recent months, Mayor Bill de Blasio has become increasingly vocal about the need to reform the system, but he faces long odds as he takes the fight to Albany next year.

While other states are enacting voter suppression laws targeting the young, the poor, and minorities, New York relies on what the mayor calls “passive” disenfranchisement, keeping barriers to the ballot box in place that other states have eliminated. The result: New York ranks among the worst states for voter turnout.

“When I look at our electoral laws, they are so arcane, and it makes me wonder how they weren’t torn down a long time ago,” de Blasio said Friday at a conference on voting sponsored by the Citizens Union. “[It] has been going on for decades: make voting so difficult, make registering so difficult, that the electorate is kept small and incumbents are favored.”

De Blasio continued, “This state — this theoretically progressive, modern state — when it comes to electoral laws, shows no evidence of being progressive and innovative and modern. It just doesn’t. It’s backwards. We are just backwards.”

The mayor backs a handful of reforms, including early voting and electronic check-in at polling places. He also wants same-day registration, which is a heavier lift: state law sets the registration cutoff at 25 days before an election; allowing registration fewer than 10 days before the vote would require a change to the state constitution.

“All sorts of places are implementing these reforms, and it’s going perfectly well,” de Blasio said. “New York state has none of these three things. The next biggest state that has none of these reforms is Kentucky. No disrespect to Kentucky.”

De Blasio also reiterated his offer to give $20 million to the state-controlled, party-dominated Board of Elections if it enacts managerial and training reforms. “I put that offer out months ago and I still have not heard a response,” the mayor said. “It’s the only agency I’ve heard of that did not say ‘yes’ to an offer of 20 million dollars.”

Ideally, de Blasio said, he would like city control of the BOE. Absent that, he urged Albany to pass legislation empowering the board’s executive director, instead of placing power in commissioners named by county party organizations.

The mayor may have a newfound enthusiasm for election reform, but changing the law requires approval from the legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The governor proposed early voting in this year’s budget, but the proposal was scrapped from the final version. Cuomo’s Department of Motor Vehicles has also made it easier to register to vote, but this does not help New Yorkers, including many city residents, who have little use for the DMV.

The only election reform to clear the legislature and get Cuomo’s signature: legislation entering New York into the National Popular Vote Compact, which would take effect once enough states sign on. Other bills have passed the Assembly but stalled in the Senate.

The Senate, of course, is controlled by Republicans and contains a breakaway conference of “independent Democrats,” both of which enjoy an often-cozy relationship with the governor.

Cuomo’s office did not reply to questions about how the governor will pursue election reform going forward.

“Albany is a place where there’s tremendous institutional resistance to changing anything,” said Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, sponsor of early voting and same-day registration bills, at this morning’s conference.

Advocates in attendance pushed for more, including automatic voter registration, no-excuse absentee voting, and relaxing the state’s onerous requirement that voters affiliate in a party more than six months before voting in its primary.

“Even Donald Trump’s children were not able to vote in their primary for their father because they didn’t know about the six-month rule,” said Jonathan Brater of the Brennan Center for Justice. “If that information isn’t penetrating Trump Tower, it isn’t penetrating public housing.”

“When you have this decrease in turnout, you end up with a lot less people of color voting,” said Demos policy analyst Sean McElwee. “That translates into policies that harm the people who are not voting.”


Damn Yankee: Alex Rodriguez confesses (kinda), and naturally he wants to now ‘help kids’

So Alex Rodriguez finally confessed to having used steroids. What a shocker. He had no choice, because he had so clearly lied previously when he absolutely denied using the muscle-enhancing drugs. But, then, they say that steroids can shrink your balls, so his previous lack of courage is really no surprise either.

And now the Yankee who will forever be known to New York sports fans as “Roidriguez” or “A-Roid” says he wants to “help kids.” Here’s an idea for this expectant Mother Teresa: He can plow back a large share of his $25 million a year salary into the country’s economy.

Naturally, like most other athletes, he thinks primarily of going to schools and preaching to them about the evils of steroids. How about spending some of that ridiculous money to help keep libraries and rec centers open?

In other words, spare us the message and spend the cash — especially during what Barack Obama now calls the “winter of our hardship.”

Aiding and abetting Roidriguez’s bullshit performance was ESPN’s Pete Gammons, who, befitting his role as one of the high priests of baseball, lobbed questions at the pampered jock on the subject of what is commonly called “giving back to the community.”

This is where repentant athletes get to show themselves off as people who are just here to help the rest of us. This is how they seek their absolution — by continuing to seek the adoration of their fans during heavily promoted speaking tours instead of perhaps anonymously doing good works.

Did Gammons have to participate in this charade by throwing Roidriguez some fat ones right down the middle of the plate? No, but he did, because most baseball writers owe their first allegiance to the game, not to their readers. It’s the rite of professional sports for jocksniffing writers to play Ed McMahon for these Johnny Carsonesque stars.

ESPN’s Selena Roberts broke the story, and Roidriguez accused her of all sorts of nefarious, “stalking” behavior. But Pete Gammons is a powerful member of baseball’s establishment, practically an adviser to Commissioner Bud Selig. Was Roidriguez expecting these softball questions from Gammons? No doubt; it’s part of the ritual. Here are two such questions — and Roidriguez’s bullshit answers:

PETER GAMMONS: Given the opportunity, would you like to go to Major League Baseball and say, “OK, what can I do to help kids across the country?”

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: 100 percent. I mean, that’s what I’ve done with the Boys and Girls Club my whole life. You know, I was born in Washington Heights [N.Y.]. I would love to really get into that community and do things that are real, that are going to make a difference. And I have an opportunity here to help out a lot of kids. And I have nine years and the rest of my career to devote myself to children in the future and really bring awareness to, you know, where we need to head as a game. And I think we are headed in the right direction.

PETER GAMMONS: Would part of your message be that your best years were clean?

ALEX RODRIGUEZ: 100 percent. One message is that what you have is enough. Hard work is the most important thing, having a clear mind, and realizing that — you know, having certainty is the most important thing, believing in yourself. And I’ve proven that in my career, at 18 years old when I came to the big leagues, and at 20 being second to Juan Gonzalez being MVP, probably my best year of all time, you know, followed by my 2007 year. And, again, no peaks and valleys. I mean, there’s some peaks and valleys, but my career overall has been very consistent, not only in games played, but being out there for my team and performing at a high level.

I will hang my hat on that. And I just ask the American public to look at those three years as something that — as an aberration. I screwed up in those years. I was stupid. I was naive. And ever since I’ve been doing the right thing and proud of.

His best years were clean? Not by the one measure that steroids seem to affect: home-run power. When it comes to Roidriguez’s “peaks and valleys,” he’s still lying.

ESPN’s “Tale of the Tape” info box shows that during the three seasons Roidriguez says he took steroids he averaged 52 home runs a year. In his 10 other seasons, apparently without the muscle-building drugs that helped him and other players hit unusual numbers of homers, he averaged 39.2 homers a year. In other words, steroids apparently helped him increase his home run production by 33 percent. At least we know the drugs do work.

Guess he’ll have turn his higher-power lie over to a higher power, too — perhaps Gammons, one of the sportswriters who will decide whether Roidriguez will be blackballed from the Hall of Fame.

If Roidriguez continues to wear sackcloth and obediently go along with the sports establishment, maybe that’ll buy him a ticket to Cooperstown.

Otherwise, he’ll just have to settle for continuing to fuck Madonna. Advice to Roidriguez: Lay off the steroids.


Daily Flog: For the recession, some remedial English lessons

You load 16 tons and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt. But the standard weights and measures are so out of whack that, in Britain, 20 billion of their pounds probably won’t outweigh those 16 tons that Wall Street’s bankers carelessly offloaded on us.

At least the Brits are trying, even though it means even more debt. Yes, there’s big news from Parliament today: a $30 billion stimulus plan to bail out commoners. But you wouldn’t know it by the U.S. press outlets, most of which grossly underplayed the Labor government’s scheme announced by Chancellor Alistair Darling.

No Henry Paulson, he. In the slowest race on record, the British beat us to a bailout of ordinary folk from the crisis dumped on us by Wall Street’s collapse (check out the Guardian‘s “Obama v Darling: the plans compared” video.)

Over here, Barack Obama won’t even commit to rescinding George W. Bush‘s brazen tax cuts for the rich that his handlers enacted in the early daze of the current GOP regime.

And the American way, apparently, is to talk about helping “consumers” — that’s how we suckers are viewed by Wall Street types like Paulson, according to our press (see the New York Post‘s “Paulson Works to Ease Consumer Credit Crunch.”)

Paulson wants to help Detroit sell us even more vehicles. In Britain, the government at least pays lip service by often referring to us as “people,” not “consumers.”

OK, we’re in transition and Obama hasn’t even taken over yet. But over there, the Yanks aren’t coming, so the Brits are robbing Peter the rich guy to pay Paul the plumber. The question is whether Obama is listening. Or is he listening to your pay-me-and-other-average-Americans-no-mind guys like Larry Summers?

So far, at least Obama’s words are soothing — and we saw how important even words are when Rudy Giuliani was portrayed as keeping it cool right after 9/11. In “Team Obama promises huge jolt to economy,” the Guardian‘s Ewen MacAskill writes:

Asked about speculation that his package will cost between $700bn (£460bn) and $1tr, Obama declined to put a figure on it. He said it was necessary not only to have a thriving Wall Street but a thriving main street too. “We are going to do what is required to jolt this economy back into shape,” the president-elect said.

Speaking at a press conference in Chicago, Obama signalled that he is moving at speed to try to reassure nervous markets as well as the public. His team would begin work straight away. “We do not have a minute to waste,” he said.

It was a confident performance that contrasted with a short, stumbling appearance by President George Bush in Washington hours earlier to confirm federal help for the Citigroup bank.

Progressive or regressive, that’s the question about our new regime, in light of the conservative Clintonian Democrats with whom Obama’s surrounding himself.

In Britain, that question’s been answered by the Labor government’s plan (see the Guardian‘s glance). It calls for massive government borrowing, but it’s a progressive agenda where the citizenry are concerned.

Gordon Brown and his henchman Darling laid out an attack that includes a tax hike for the richest 1 percent of Britons and a higher tax on gasoline. Plus an order to banks to delay foreclosures. Plus more help to homeowners in making mortgage payments. Plus an increase in child-care benefits. Plus £1.3 billion to help the unemployed. Plus a cut in the sales tax. Plus a vow to use government power to stop utilities from gouging their customers.

Plus higher taxes on such vices as national health insurance, alcohol, and tobacco (unfortunately, three things that are necessary for us to survive the onrushing Great ’08 Depression). And this conscionable move, as the Washington Post‘s Kevin Sullivan reports in a story buried on page A8:

Darling, in his annual pre-budget address to the House of Commons, said the government also planned to dramatically increase borrowing to fund massive public spending on hospitals, schools, transportation and environmental projects.

So far, we’re talking about the opposite approach in Britain to the recession. Shoring up social services, a higher tax on the rich? Doesn’t sound like corporate welfare to me. What’s wrong with those people? What, is Sheila Bair running Britain’s bailout?

The Labor government didn’t announce its plan to a roomful of respectful reporters. Sitting only a few feet away from Darling and Brown, the Tories jeered them. (Don’t you just love parliamentary democracy?)

More from the WashPost story:

Opposition leaders immediately attacked the government’s plans as reckless and misguided, especially its intention to fund an aggressive spending program by increasing its overall borrowing to $117 billion this year and $177 billion, or 8 percent of gross domestic product, next year.

“The chancellor has just announced the largest amount of borrowing ever undertaken by a British government in the entire history of this country,” George Osborne, the Conservative Party’s chief spokesman on economic issues, told lawmakers in response to Darling’s report. “To pay for it he has placed a huge unexploded tax bombshell timed to go off underneath the future economic recovery.”

Not much talk these days about who’s at fault for this mess. (By the way, can we please put that old antisemitic canard about “international bankers” to rest? We didn’t get into this mess because of them. The villains are Wall Street’s bankers. Thank you.)

Now see this Oklahoman-American Jew’s links to other news …


Washington Post: ‘$30 Billion Stimulus Announced In Britain: Plan Cuts Sales Tax, Boosts Borrowing for Major Public Projects’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Team Obama promises huge jolt to economy’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Big Players Scale Back Charitable Donations’

“As the recession deepens, the future of charities that depend on corporate donations is becoming more uncertain.”

N.Y. Post: ‘It’s About Time! Paulson Finally Makes Move to Help Consumers’

New Yorker: ‘Thinking Big: The promise of universal health care’ (Steve Coll)

Guardian (U.K.): ‘US intelligence “kept files on Tony Blair’s private life”, claims ex-US navy operator’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Chrysler Workers Fret Buyout Deadline’

“Chrysler workers are torn between accepting a buyout now or hoping to survive involuntary separations expected at year’s end.”

N.Y. Times: ‘Economic Slump May Limit Moves on Clean Energy’

“A poor global economy and plunging prices for coal and oil are upending plans to curb the use of fossil fuels.”

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Cops nab man who drove 3,000 miles to shoot wife in church’

N.Y. Times: ‘Saving Citi May Create More Fear’

“The government’s bailout of Citigroup could lead other banks to take bigger risks.”

Irish Times: ‘Democratic triumph heralds realignment in US politics’

THE ELECTION of 2008 is history, but the battle over what it meant has just begun. Conservative analysts have insisted that although the Democrats achieved a sweeping victory, it does not indicate a fundamental change.

“America is still a centre-right country,” as John Boehner, the House Republican leader, insisted soon after the votes were counted.

N.Y. Times: ‘For Lobbyists, No Downturn, Just a Turnover’

“Republican lobbyists are feeling the demand for their services plummet as Democrats ascend in Washington.”

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Teacher and her pet’

“A Queens teacher, 37, fired for bedding a 17-year-old male model is suing to win back her job. He was no student, she says.”


State secret: Is it Secretary’s Day for Hillary?

Will Barack Obama really hire Hillary Clinton to take dictation? Is he that into tragedy?

The view at Foggy Bottom is still murky. But it always has been. The low-lying D.C. neighborhood first earned that moniker because of fog and industrial smoke. Then the high-lying State Department HQ moved in, and the nickname gained even more credibility.

So just imagine Hillary Clinton ensconced in Foggy Bottom. She’ll never be in Obama’s inner circle, and she’ll always be a pretender to his throne, so why should he name her and give her control of a huge part of the national machinery? She and her staff would be nothing if not passive-aggressive in their dealings with Obama’s crew. Why would he want more smoke blown at him from Foggy Bottom?

Internal dissent is one thing. As a lifelong practitioner, I’m all for it. But it’s something else altogether to hire a supremely self-aggrandizing pol who constantly works to undercut your authority and is your chief rival in the party and who would try to impose her own agenda — just for the sake of its not being yours, that it would be hers. You’ve worked with people like that, haven’t you? That wouldn’t seem to be the kind of drama that Obama desires.

He doesn’t strike me as a King Lear. So why would he want to hire the wife of our former King Leer?

Maybe it’s all a charade by him and his crew to allow her to save face — she’ll finally say thanks for the gracious “offer” but her country needs her more in the Senate or some such B.S. like that.

Or maybe it’s Hillary’s crew that keeps spreading the word that she’s in line for the job, and Obama’s crew has shrewdly decided to just let them keep doing it if that’s what it takes for Hillary to save face and for the party to keep from fracturing.

Don’t forget: The country is officially in a recession, and an increasingly poorer and more fed-up populace already spells trouble for the Democrats for the mid-term elections in 2010. Even Jesus couldn’t pull us out of this economic disaster by then, so you know that Congressional Democrats are already nervous about their new “mandate” for “change.”

In any case, the newest immigrant to D.C. is both more intriguing than Clinton and less full of intrigue — at least from Obama’s perspective. She’s Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, who’s lined up to be the Homeland Security chief.

Janet be nimble. Check out the quick take on her in Phoenix New Times, which gave her a “Best Politician” award in 2006:

Janet Napolitano’s the hands-down champion when it comes to political maneuvering around here. The mere fact that a woman who comes across as this butch can get elected governor and, before that, attorney general in Arizona (of all places) is testament to her political IQ. Plus, she’s a bleedin’ Democrat!

Somehow she’s been able to avoid all the hot-button issues, or make us think she cares hugely about them without really doing much, and now the pollsters have declared her unbeatable . . .

Seems like a shrewd move by the Obama team: A female governor from a border state where immigration is a hot issue is now in charge of protecting the nation from terror.

And it could be a lot worse. Maybe a Republican would have chosen her exact opposite, the cartoonish Phoenix-based sheriff Joe Arpaio, for the job. For those who don’t know, Arpaio is the notoriously hardline, publicity-grabbing Maricopa County lawman who runs what he proudly proclaims as the toughest jail system in the country. Being cruel to Mexicans and other people of color comes naturally to him.

In real life, Arpaio is a cross between Deputy Dawg and Barney Fife, without either of those characters’ loveability. Arpaio was nothing but an ex-DEA-flunky crank when he used to pester reporters in Phoenix in the ’80s — before Arizonans mystifyingly gave him a gun.

Remember Bernie Kerik, who had his five minutes in the D.C. sun as George W. Bush‘s putative Homeland Security czar? Joe Arpaio makes Bernie Kerik seem like Dwight D. Eisenhower.

As far as we know, controversy is not Janet Napolitano’s middle name.

Judging by the way she skirts around things, she won’t make waves. She’s even more colorless than Tom Ridge, and she’ll carry out whatever task Rahm Emanuel gives her.

Here’s your task: Click on these . . .



N.Y. Daily News: ‘Dog takes car for run and crashes into L.I. shop’

N.Y. Times: ‘After Losses, Pensions Ask For a Change’

“Some of the nation’s biggest companies want Congress to roll back rules requiring them to put more money into pension funds.”

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Team Obama thinks Hillary Clinton’s people to blame for State speculation’

Register (U.K.): ‘Google tells the world how to talk: Received Pronunciation not received, Scots scotched’

N.Y. Times: ‘Teenagers’ Internet Socializing Not a Bad Thing’

L.A. Times: ‘Antiwar groups fear Barack Obama may create hawkish Cabinet’

Register (U.K.): ‘German bawdy house offers free entry for life: Willing punters queue for promotional brothel tattoo’

Washington Post: ‘Stocks Slump As Signs Point To Harder Times: Key Indicators Suggest Deep Recession’

MarketWatch: ‘Saudi Prince boosting Citi stake to 5 Percent’

Bloomberg: ‘Alwaleed Buys Citigroup Stock as Loss Exceeds Buffett’

Washington Post: ‘Auto Execs Fly Corporate Jets to D.C., Tin Cups in Hand’ (Dana Milbank)

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Fine to quadruple amputee — in days’

“She went to an ER suffering from what she thought was just a kidney stone, but a medical nightmare left her a quadruple amputee. Tabitha Mullings claims doctors failed to diagnose an infection that has literally eaten her alive.”

N.Y. Times: ‘New York Police Fight With U.S. on Surveillance’

N.Y. Times: ‘Web Sites Wage Holiday Price Wars’

Washington Post: ‘Let the Guy Smoke: Obama Is Probably Fibbing About Giving Up Cigarettes. That’s Okay.’ (Michael Kinsley)

Register (U.K.): ‘Homework late? Blame Russian hackers: Teachers wise up to tech-based yarns’

N.Y. Times: ‘Discussions With Clintons as Obama Creates Team’

L.A. Times: ‘L.A. councilman seeks to protect celebrities from paparazzi’

L.A. Times: ‘Prop. 8 gay marriage ban goes to Calif. Supreme Court’

L.A. Times: ‘World grapples with pirate problem’

Register (U.K.): ‘Filesharing ambulance chasers get into the gay smut racket’


Daily Flog: Obama installs Rahm to boot up Congress

Obama‘s got his Luca Brasi, so what’s the problem?

The president-elect’s choice of Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff sparked criticism of “partisanship.”

As we slide deeper into a recession, Emanuel had better be partisan if he wants to get anything done as Obama’s hit man. Emanuel is a shrewd — though entirely predictable — choice for Obama.

Though I hate to quote party flacks, Paul Begala has the best description. As the New York Post says this morning, Begala has described Emanuel as “cross between a hemorrhoid and a toothache”:

Over the last 15 years, the hot-tempered Chicago congressman has been one of the Democratic Party’s most formidable brawlers, a political force of nature known for tabletop tirades and unabashed fund-raising.

At least Emanuel’s not a direct-mail, ideological dirty trickster like George W. Bush’s deputy chief of staff Karl Rove.

And unlike Bush’s putative chiefs of staff (Andy Card and Josh Bolten), Emanuel comes to the job as an experienced and powerful congressman. Think of a Luca Brasi who’s also a smart bagman. Think of a hemorrhoid that can also twist your arms.

The criticism from Republicans doesn’t mean anything; they’re merely the disloyal opposition. Partisanship? It’s the Democrats in Congress who have more to fear as Emanuel works to keep them in line with Obama’s agenda.

OK, so Don Corleone‘s Luca Brasi wound up sleeping with the fishes pretty early on. Expect Obama’s enforcer to last longer and to produce plenty of sleepless nights among Capitol Hill’s Democrats.

Just be glad that you’re not cowering in your office dreading that next phone call from Rahm Emanuel. Obama may be as cool as the other side of the pillow, but Emanuel is no comforter.

Assuming the new chief of staff doesn’t have your number, you can relax and click . . .


N.Y. Daily News: ‘Yanks caught stealin’ from taxpayers again’ (Juan Gonzalez)


New York: ‘Can The Daily Show Survive the Barack Obama Presidency?’

“It’s no secret that plenty of satirical outlets — Saturday Night Live, the Onion, late-night talk shows — have had trouble finding good Obama jokes. But we’re not forecasting their doom. The Daily Show is unique, though, in its audience and in its comedic approach, and we’re very worried that an Obama presidency might send Jon Stewart‘s show speedily on the road to obsolescence. . . .

“If President Obama’s administration is the love-in that progressives hope it will be, we think it’s awfully unlikely Stewart’s heart will be in Obama-bashing. The guy teared up at eleven on Election Night! Not that we didn’t, but still. . . .

“That the real highlight of Election Night was Stephen Colbert‘s begging a cockatoo to slit his throat suggests that the balance of power on the Stewart-Colbert axis might have shifted. We can see a future in which The Colbert Report becomes Comedy Central’s late-night star, mixing Dadaist whimsy with legitimate critique of the Obama administration.”

Register (U.K.): ‘US Air Force online ad theme: “Horror Meets Comedy” ‘

“In a move which you simply couldn’t make up, the US Air Force has announced that it will partner with Microsoft to advertise itself on the Xbox under the banner ‘Horror Meets Comedy.’ The deal will see the USAF sponsoring a series of short films for viewing on the Xbox Live online portal.”

Register (U.K.): ‘US admiral wants “pain-ray” guns for Gulf fleet’

“A US admiral has called for American warships operating in the Middle East to be equipped with microwave ‘pain ray’ cannons to avoid using overwhelming lethal force.”

Register (U.K.): ‘Palin didn’t know Africa is a continent, McCain aides say — Needed work on North America too’

Sarah Palin raised a few eyebrows within the John McCain campaign because she didn’t realize that Africa is a continent, according to aides whispering with a shamelessly right-wing news outlet.

“McCain aides told Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron there was “great concern” within the campaign that Palin ‘lacked a degree of knowledgeability necessary to be a running mate, a vice president, and a heartbeat away from the presidency.’

“Yes, knowledgeability.”

Washington Post: ‘Emanuel to Be Chief of Staff’

“The selection of the fellow Illinois Democrat, a close Obama friend who embraces a sharp-edged approach to politics, could signal a rapid succession of appointments. Obama is expected to announce in the coming days that he will place two senior campaign aides, David Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, in key roles.

“Those early staffing decisions, coupled with reports that a number of prominent and established people are under consideration for Cabinet roles, suggests that Obama is focused more on projecting a reassuring image of continuity and competence than of quickly bringing wholesale change to a nation facing two wars and a severe economic downturn.”

Washington Post: ‘Iraqis Demand Withdrawal Date’

“Officials insist on departure time for U.S. forces, demand troops be subject to Iraq legal jurisdiction.”

N.Y. Times: ‘Retailers Report a Sales Collapse’

Market Watch: ‘Europe stocks blasted on day of steep rate cuts’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Hedge Fund Selling Puts New Stress on Market’

New Yorker: ‘Melting into Air: Before the financial system went bust, it went postmodern’

“The story of David Einhorn and Allied Capital is an example of a moneyman who believed, with absolute certainty, that he was in the right, who said so, and who then watched the world fail to react to his inarguable demonstration of his own rightness . . .”


N.Y. Times: ‘Tolerance Over Race Can Spread, Studies Find’

N.Y. Times: ‘On Concerns Over Gun Control, Gun Sales Are Up’

N.Y. Times: ‘Obama Victory Alters the Tenor of Iraqi Politics’

N.Y. Times: ‘Georgia Claims on Russia War Called Into Question’

“TBILISI, Georgia — Newly available accounts by independent military observers of the beginning of the war between Georgia and Russia this summer call into question the longstanding Georgian assertion that it was acting defensively against separatist and Russian aggression.

“Instead, the accounts suggest that Georgia’s inexperienced military attacked the isolated separatist capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 7 with indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire, exposing civilians, Russian peacekeepers and unarmed monitors to harm.

“The accounts are neither fully conclusive nor broad enough to settle the many lingering disputes over blame in a war that hardened relations between the Kremlin and the West.

“But they raise questions about the accuracy and honesty of Georgia’s insistence that its shelling of Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, was a precise operation. Georgia has variously defended the shelling as necessary to stop heavy Ossetian shelling of Georgian villages, bring order to the region or counter a Russian invasion.”

Register (U.K.): ‘North Korea photoshops stroke from Kim Jong Il: Pixelated communist chief in shadow snafu’

“North Korea has released a new pic of chairman Kim Jong Il, hoping to show the world that the communist despot/self-professed internet expert is alive and well and healthy enough to actually appear in public. But this may be a case of communist photoshopaganda.”


Daily Flog: Equal rites

The impact of Barack Obama‘s election to the aptly named White House? Perhaps the Malaysian news outlet Sin Chew says it best:

‘After Obama, Even A Non-Malay Can Be PM’

“Some thought it a joke that a Black man can be in the White House. But Barack Obama proved everyone wrong. So can an Iban, Kadazan, Kenyah, Dusun, Chinese, Indian, Orang Ulu, Orang Asli dan lain-lain lagi be prime minister of Malaysia? Don’t be silly, of course anyone can.”

But more importantly in this country, the Obama victory was a victory for white people.

Outlets ranging from ESPN to the BBC automatically scurried to black people for their reaction to Obama’s win. It would be more telling if they focused on the reaction from white people, because that was the real story.

It looks as if Obama did better with white voters than Bill Clinton did. Remember Toni Morrison‘s “trope of blackness” foolishness in 1998 when she called Clinton “our first black president”?

Claptrap. Not backed up by the facts — like Clinton’s embrace of such separate-but-unequal policies as the Glass-Steagall repeal, which heaped more misery on poor blacks and poor whites by worsening the subprime scam.

Ten years later, we really do have a black president, and reporters are besieging black people in Kenya and the NBA for quotes about Obama’s victory. What do you think they’ll say? Of course they like it.

The fact, though, is that an astounding number of white people not only voted for Obama but actively supported him and cried tears of joy when he won — a landmark in America’s racial history and a severe blow against tokenism.

The images from Grant Park of Obama and Joe Biden and their families — white people and black people, young and old — holding hands and hugging were unforgettable. Unforgettable because for the first time on the highest national stage the black man and his kin weren’t relegated to supporting roles.

Recall Martin Luther King Jr.‘s 1963 speech, when he and other black people were on the outside of the White House looking in, and he talked about transforming “the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood”:

“[M]any of our white brothers . . . have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”

He tried to convince us that civil rights is as much of — or more of — a white issue as a black one.

The current phase of black people mostly relegated in white eyes (and their own) to dreams of success as sports gladiators, actors, and rappers may be ending. Tokens? No longer.

The only tokens you see in New York City subways these days are the faces on the ads plastered in each car. Look at the ads that feature the casts of the season’s new TV shows: Each cast is either all black or it consists of four or five whites and a token black and maybe a token person of Asian descent.

Marketers still blitz us with those apartheid-like images. Our pop culture’s portrayals of mixed-race couples are mostly white men with black women — The Wire‘s naked coupling of Lance Reddick‘s black-cop character atop his white lawyer girlfriend the exception that proves the unwritten rule among marketers to not offend whites.

And now we have a mixed-race president. In his grave, Theodore Bilbo must be growling about “mongrelization.”

Segregation and segregationists are cancer cells, and Obama’s victory will help flush that infection out of the American mainstream.

Think about another landmark event in America’s racial history. The color barrier that Jackie Robinson ran through in 1947 was not a black barrier; it was a white one. And popular Dodger shortstop and team captain Pee Wee Reese‘s white arm publicly draped over his black teammate’s shoulders was arguably more significant than the expected joy felt by other black people at Robinson’s feat.

Racism was once commonly called “the Negro problem.” In this white-ruled country, it’s always been a white problem.


Wall Street Journal: ‘Obama Turns to Building Leadership Team’

Village Voice: ‘Wall Streetwalkers: the Sleazy Lehman Brothers Subsidiary’

Bloomberg: ‘ISM Services Index in U.S. Slumped to Record Low’

Election Law (Ohio State University): ‘Post-election contests: Four states to watch’

Election Reform Project (Brookings): ‘New Jersey’s DRE Problem’

Fox News: ‘Karl Rove on the Ins and Outs of the Transition from Bush to Obama’

L.A. Times: ‘Gay rights backers file 3 lawsuits challenging Prop. 8’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘City paid $50G to settle excessive-force suits against same officer in subway sodomy case’

VOA: ‘Taiwan President Meets With Senior Mainland Official’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Time’s short for GOP to lick wounds’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Barack Obama election victory drives US newspaper sales surge’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Ed Dept. plans 50% slash in new seats for students’

Sin Chew (Malaysia): ‘Inheriting The Bush Legacy Of Mess’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Palin goes out with a whimper’

“Vanquished VP nominee Sarah Palin wanted to address the nation on Election Night, but a top Mac aide nixed her request.”

Washington Post: ‘First-Ever Mapping of Cancer Patient’s Genome’


Washington Post: ‘In a Heated Race, Obama’s Cool Won the Day’

N.Y. Post: ‘Bamelot: Plenty Kennedys on Cabinet List’


Daily Flog: Attention, Secret Service: Keep hope alive

America’s newest national resource — protect him.

Anything is possible, Barack Obama said in his awe-inspiring victory speech.

The obverse is that nothing is impossible.

The perverse is that humanity is schizophrenic. Just a few days ago, financial panic was sweeping across the globe. Now it’s optimism. Give it a few days, and pessimism will return (although the election-spurred market did stage a historic rally).

Our country was born in a bloody revolution, and the history of the rise of U.S. territory, wealth, and power is written with the blood of black slaves and other people of color.

At various times since then, “uppity” black people have been assassinated. A few of the slaves who weren’t uppity were allowed into “the big house” — by the back door.

When I was a kid in Oklahoma, black people still weren’t allowed in my town’s movie theaters and were consigned to separate but unequal drinking fountains and train station waiting rooms. In my neighborhood, black people still weren’t welcomed into white houses except by the back door and then only as menial laborers.

How much of that has really changed? New York is the most segregated place I’ve lived in. The U.S. is not only still heavily segregated but also beset by rising inequality of wealth and health (see my December 28, 2004 article “The Numbers Beyond the Bling”).

With plenty of work still to do in fighting the chronic infection of racism, a black person has nevertheless won title to the big house. No black person is by definition more uppity than Barack Obama.

George W. Bush was merely the target of well-deserved sneers. But you know that there are nut cases in this gun-crazy country who see Obama as a different sort of target.

Amid the euphoria today, one of the few mentions of the fear of Obama’s being assassinated comes from Jeremy Vernon, a web developer in Toronto. On AgoraVox, the French journalistic weblog that bills itself as “citizen media,” Vernon — an ordinary person, not a self-described pundit — writes:

Barack Obama gives hope not merely to the United States — he brings hope to the globe, every Bush-forsaken square inch of it. Obama reminds us of the promise the United States made to the world when it assumed, largely uncontested, the position of unique superpower at the fall of the USSR.

Obama gives me great hope that the inflamed anti-Americanism that is a wound amongst Canadians can heal. That Canada can embrace our wayward ally once more and work hard to fix the problems that have been festering for eight unbearably long years — ignored entirely or deliberately aggravated by Bush and his cronies.

But Vernon adds this proviso:

I hope that the Secret Service is prepared for the most endangered President since Abraham Lincoln. Obama’s mix of policy, ethnicity, and political pedigree is the cocktail for assassination.

The United States cannot afford to lose this President, especially at the hands of one of their own.

On the eve of this election, Barry Saunders of the Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer warned, in “Threats to Obama Deserve Serious Attention”:

Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman, 18, of West Helena, Ark., are in custody, charged with possession of a sawed-off shotgun, conspiracy to rob a federal firearms licensee and making threats against a major candidate for president. Both admitted to Haywood County, Tenn., deputies that they had indeed made the nefarious plans that were foiled when Cowart’s girlfriend ratted them out.

According to Sheriff Melvin Bond, when told that they wouldn’t have been able to get close enough to Obama to kill him, the men said knew that but were willing to die trying.

Yet federal law enforcement officials, quoted on NPR, said the men were not a “credible threat” to Obama.

Say what?

Are people like Saunders and Vernon paranoid? No. The Civil War was fought over civil rights; blacks were commonly lynched until well into the 1940s. Racism drove such talents as native son Richard Wright into European exile.

While thousands of everyday insults persisted, the N-word finally became impolite — Mississippi senator Theodore “The Man” Bilbo was barred from his U.S. Senate seat in 1947 for continuing to spew vitriol in public about the mongrelization of his cracker race.

But the sentiment behind the N-word is more dangerous than the word, and it still bubbles just below the surface. Politicians and others still feed off the ingrained racism of the American culture.

A hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation, blacks hadn’t even gained the right to vote in many parts of the country.

In the ’60s, GOP operative Bill Rehnquist did something worse than spout the N-word; he personally obstructed black people from voting in Phoenix. And he wound up as Chief Justice of the United States.

That wouldn’t be — and won’t be — the last disenfranchisement of black voters.

Late into the last century, blacks continued to be knocked down for standing up. Martin Luther King Jr., the most uppity black of his generation, was murdered for not only standing up but daring to march.

If reports of the recent assassination plot against Obama are true, then believe that there are other Cowarts out there who are gunning for our president.

So if the Pope has to ride around in a special “popemobile,” then so be it for Obama. Build the guy a new and more secure bulletproof vehicle.

The new president, who oozes with charisma (especially now in the first blush of victory, before the reality of a nationwide recession sets in), will want to keep working the crowds.

Memo to Obama: Resist that impulse. Stand behind bulletproof glass. And make sure you assign the most paranoid Secret Service agents to your detail.

In other news, people are still being killed in the Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere . . .


Der Spiegel (Germany): ‘GOOD MORNING, MR. PRESIDENT: What Europe Wants from Obama’

BBC: ‘Congo eyewitness: “I saw them die” ‘

BBC: ‘ “Many dead” in Afghan air strike’

“It is the latest incident involving civilian casualties and underlines the challenge ahead for US President-elect and commander-in-chief Barack Obama.”

Wall Street Journal: ‘Racial Significance of Vote Looms Large for Many at Polls’

N.Y. Times: ‘Russia Warns of New Missile Deployment’

Washington Post: ‘Extended Therapy Helps Drug-Addicted Teens’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Rainbow coalition of voters sweeps Obama into office’

“There was plenty of evidence to support the view that Obama’s candidacy was racially and nationally unifying.”

Economist (U.K.): ‘There can be only one’ [live-blog one-liners on election night]

Der Spiegel (Germany): ‘The Serenity of Barack Obama’

N.Y. Times: ‘Strongest Election Day Stock Rally in 24 Years’

Wall Street Journal: ‘How the Election Could Affect Iraq-U.S. Negotiations’

L.A. Times: ‘High court conservatives favor indecency rule’

Washington Post: ‘FCC Expands Use of Airwaves: ‘White Space’ to Be Opened to Devices Connected to Web’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘In Pictures: Presidential Pets’

Slate: ‘Where To Dump The Kids: How Nebraska became to child abandonment what Nevada once was to the quickie divorce’

Economist (U.K.): ‘Online activism in China: Murder and theft’

“Less heinous when the victims are the police, and Microsoft?”

Slate: ‘Election Day’s Nine Worst Press Releases’

“La Fresh Travel Towelettes and other products no reporter wants to hear about today.”

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Two busted in drive-by shoot of judge home’


When he reigns, it pours

As if you don’t already suffer from nightmares, check out Der Spiegel‘s new photo gallery, “Funny Moments with George ‘Dubyah’ Bush.”

Picture — unretouched — is shot No. 11 of 21. Write your own caption. I’m sure you’ll do a heckuva job.


Winner will have to take office RIGHT NOW!

No time for post-election monkey-wrenching.

The economy’s in such a freefall that the winner of today’s election won’t have time for a transition — he’ll have to start taking immediate action to stanch the bleeding.

You think the stock market is down? You don’t know the half of it. The New York Stock Exchange itself is a publicly traded company, and even it is crashing. As the Wall Street Journal‘s Heard on the Street notes:

One of hardest-hit stocks on the NYSE is that of the exchange itself. Shares of NYSE Euronext, the Big Board’s parent, have fallen nearly 70 percent this year, leaving it with a market value of just $7.6 billion.

The steep decline could make NYSE an attractive target to be acquired.

But the real story this morning sits atop the WSJ‘s news pages: “New Economic Ills Will Force Winner’s Hand”:

With a fresh blast of bearish news hitting just before the presidential election, Tuesday’s victor will be under rising pressure to put his stamp on U.S. economic policy well before his Jan. 20 inauguration.

It really has turned out to be true that, as Charlie Wilson (the former GM CEO, not the drunken pol) once said, as GM goes, so goes the nation (“Charlie Wilson’s War is Over. He Lost,” Press Clips, January 23, 2008).

GM’s vehicle sales have dropped 45 percent compared with this time a year ago. Guess where we’re headed?

Whatever the case, Senator Chuck Schumer stands to be a big winner. Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, Schumer will be the golden boy in the new Democratic Congress, even if McCain were to win.

For good or ill, the New York senator will be one of the most powerful people in the country.

And, as he certainly should, he’s already making plans. The WSJ story notes:

[Schumer] says an Obama win would mean the Democratic Congress will take up a small stimulus package in a lame-duck session soon and a bigger one in January after inauguration.

Even if Sen. McCain were to win, Sen. Schumer says, expected Democratic gains in Congress will help the party leadership push through a package in November.