Sarah Palin Sings “The Bridge to Nowhere” Anthem

Sarah Palin Sings “The Bridge to Nowhere” Anthem

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The Big VP Debate: Palin’s Running on Fumes, Not Real Fuel

The Big Vice-Presidential Debate: Palin’s Running on Fumes, Not Real Fuel

Reactions to the Debate

CBS News reported on the debate, where vice presidential candidates Sarah Palin and Joe Biden clashed on the financial crisis, foreign policy, energy and taxes in a nationally televised debate on Thursday night. Palin committed no major mistakes, but CBS News chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer gave the edge to Biden. “I thought Sen. Biden had a very good night,” Schieffer said. “Time and again, Gov. Palin would choose not to answer the question.” A CBS News instant poll of Americans who watched the debate also showed Biden to be the winner by a margin of 46-21 percent. About one-third thought the debate was a draw.

A CNN national poll of people who watched the vice presidential debate on Thursday night suggested that Democratic Sen. Joe Biden won. Poll respondents gave Sen. Biden the edge over Gov. Sarah Palin in the ability to express views. The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. said 51 percent of those polled thought Biden did the best job, compared to Palin’s 36 percent.

At The Atlantic Magazine, Andrew Sullivan felt that Joe Biden’s sobriety and authority and call for fundamental change is both reasonable and solid. “It will resonate, I think. As you can read, I began this debate feeling that she was steam-rolling him. She was. But it was a steam-roller coming at you on fumes, not real fuel. She doesn’t have it. Maybe one day she might. But not now. Biden’s concluding remarks were very, very strong. There is no contest here.”

And from abroad, The Guardian (UK) reported that Biden gave the far superior debate performance by any objective standard, of course; far superior to pretty much any recent debate I can call to mind. But of course that may not be the relevant point: Palin didn’t fall apart, and until discussion moved to foreign policy, at any rate, her relentless strategy of talking only about tax cuts and energy policy, peppering her lines with plenty of folksiness, seemed to serve her well. From the Iraq section onwards, she sometimes seemed to be clinging on by her fingertips.

Fred Kaplan reviewed the debate from a foreign policy perspective in Slate Magazine. His conclusion was that Palin still know nothing about foreign policy. He proposed that Palin be judged as we would a presumptively seasoned and competent political leader. By that standard, on issues of foreign policy, she was outgunned by Sen. Joe Biden at every turn.

And more than Sen. Barack Obama, who could have answered some of Sen. John McCain’s charges more forcefully in last week’s debate, Biden made no effort to muffle his fire. When Palin called Obama’s plan for a phased withdrawal from Iraq “a white flag of surrender,” Biden shot back that the plan was identical to the policy of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

When Palin repeated her charge that Obama was “beyond naive” in calling for negotiating with adversaries “without preconditions,” Biden explained what the phrase meant, then noted that it was supported not just by the five former secretaries of state who recently co-authored an endorsement of the idea but by our allies, with whom Palin had just said we needed to work together.

When Palin recited McCain’s line about applying the principles of the Iraqi surge to Afghanistan, Biden (correctly) noted that the U.S. commanding general in Afghanistan has said the surge wouldn’t work there. (By the way, it does not bother me at all that Palin referred to Gen. Dave McKiernan as “Gen. McClellan.” We all make mistakes like that now and then.)

Finally, when Biden said the Bush administration’s foreign policy has been an “abject failure,” and proceeded to list the many ways in which that was so, Palin’s only reply was to smile and say, “Enough playing the blame game.” If Obama and Biden talk so much about change, she added (as if this were really a clever point), why do they spend so much time looking backward? To which Biden replied, with uncharacteristic pith, “Past is prologue.” And so it is. At another point, he noted, “Facts matter.” And so they do.

Joe Biden gets the first laugh of the night, calling the McCain-Palin health care plan “the ultimate bridge to nowhere.” Watch:

Biden Mocks Palin’s Bridge to Nowhere

Palin’s “Cute Act” Flops Bigtime

For much of tonight’s debate, Sarah Palin avoided any spectacularly obvious stupidity and Joe Biden steered clear of any casually offensive statements. Then came “Say It Ain’t So, Joe,” an attempted cute catchphrase deployed by Palin that not only failed spectacularly but which was also followed by a cascade of other dumb attempts at adorability. The Republican vice presidential nominee then looked increasingly like the end of Tina Fey’s most recent impression. She winked! For the second time in the night! She called her own joke “lame” and tried to laugh at it. And then she said Joe Biden’s wife would be rewarded in heaven because she’s a teacher. That would be Senator Biden’s second wife, after his first wife and year-old daughter were killed in a horrific car accident and are, in fact, now in heaven. Whoops. At the conclusion of the video below, Biden becomes very emotional when he touches upon the issue of his first wife’s death.

Sarah Palin’s Failed “Cute Act”

Hockey Mom’s Across the Nation

In Palin’s 90 minutes on the stage Thursday night, she left the firm impression that she is indeed ready to lead the nation, presiding with an unnerving mixture of platitudes and cute, folksy phrases that poured from her lips even when they bore no relation to the questions asked. “Let’s commit ourselves just every day American people, Joe Six-Pack, hockey moms across the nation,” she proposed in response to a question about the mortgage crisis.

Head of Skate: Hockey Mom’s Across the Nation

Palin Disintegrated as the Debate Wound On

In The Atlantic Magazine, Marc Ambinder observed that to practiced ears, Palin memorized and repeated talking points and Biden responded to the questions and argued. Palin dodged questions and seemed vague; but then again, for those whose only impression of Palin has been the one Tina Fay performed on Saturday Night Live, she cleared the bar. Biden seemed a little unsure how tough to be at the beginning of the debate; by the beginning of the final third, he hit his stride. As the debate wound on, Palin seemed less agile when it came to constructing sentences and answers. Lots of key phrases, weird placement of conjunctions, so the gist of what she was saying was there, but it wasn’t terribly clear.

At one point late in the debate, Palin’s words seemed to flutter all over the place like mourning doves frightened at the feeder. Many of her sentences were plainly just not English; they were just collections of words strung together just to prompt a strong reaction, floating ands and prepositional phrases (“with that vote of the American people“). One of the prime examples from last night’s debate:

“A statement that he [Obama] made like that is downright dangerous because leaders like Ahmadinejad who would seek to acquire nuclear weapons and wipe off the face of the earth an ally like we have in Israel should not be met with without preconditions and diplomatic efforts being undertaken first.”

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Wall Street Calamity: Stocks Crushed in Financial Freefall

Wall Street Calamity: Stocks Crushed in Financial Freefall

Stocks are Crushed in Financial Freefall

Stocks crushed,” is how CNN Money, employing all the descriptive restraint that it could, sees this morning’s disastrous economic landscape. The Dow Jones Industrial Index’ record 777.68 points (7%) drop yesterday was “the biggest one-day point drop in [its] 102-year history,” writes the Wall Street Journal. Washington “lawmakers groping for a resolution… they attempt to avoid economic calamity,” writes the New York Times, with all the urgency that two-thirds of the House Republicans and some 40% of the Democrats failed to muster yesterday.

At the same time, the banking industry continues what the Wall Street Journal is calling “a decade’s worth of consolidation in a matter of weeks.” Yesterday it was Citigroup’s turn to swoop in on some distressed financial institution, with its government-brokered takeover of Wachovia’s banking operations for $2.2 billion in an all-stock deal. Wachovia, the nation’s fourth-largest bank, wasn’t on the point of collapse but the government intervention based on its deteriorating condition – and the threat that posed to the teetering U.S. financial system – hammers home how “quickly once-mighty U.S. banks are succumbing to a growing mountain of bad mortgages and other loans,” says the Wall Street Journal.

Clearly, then, the headline from the world of politics and economics for today seems fairly self-evident: in the wake of the House of Representative’s failure to pass a bailout package for Wall Street, the Dow dropped by the largest point margin in any single day in history.

But as Sam Stein points out in The Huffington Post, that number told only half the story. Indeed, much of what transpired on Wall Street and in the halls of politics put a bookend on what now seems to the final – poor – chapter of the Bush administration’s economic record. On Monday, the Dow finished lower than when George W. Bush assumed the presidency: 10,587.59 on January 19, 2001 compared to 10,365.45 at its close on September 29, 2008.

The Stock Exchange Crash of 1929 and The Great Depression

Remembering the Stock Market Crash of 1929

The Great Depression: Hard Times

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Sarah Palin: United States Head of Skate

Sarah Palin: United States Head of Skate

Opening Soon on a Planet Near You:

Sarah Palin: Head of Skate

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Seductive Bare-Chested Masculine Confidence

Seductive Bare-Chested Masculine Confidence

Actually, now that I’ve had some more time to think about it from the perspective of a quick character study, while looking more closely at the very interesting photographs of this guy, perhaps I should have described him as “alluring,” rather than “seductive.” “Alluring” suggests, I think, a less cold-hearted stance toward/with others, while “seductive” implies intentionally hard-hearted and calculated schemes to take advantage of others. But the “bare-chested masculine confidence” is certainly a fitting description of the aura he projects.

This is a very handsome, muscular fellow, who most men and women would probably find to be quite attractive. The guy recently won a national title, Mr. America, Mr. American Glamour, Mr. Fascination, or some title like that. Well, at least I know for darn sure that I’m correct about the Mister part. In almost all of the photographs of him, this manly man looks you straight in the eye. In that sense he creates an impression of invitation, with an implication of closeness.

On the other hand, his gaze has a certain vacant quality, conveying a decidedly disinterested air. In other words, there exists a paradox of social attachment or closeness, accompanied by an opposite message of social distance. I’m wondering if this social ambivalence might be somewhat characteristic of people who are celebrities, as well as of people who want or are trying to be celebrities. Anyway, at the very least my comments here have attempted to establish an underlying point that there’s nothing improper about looking closely at men who are alluring and very attractive. Perhaps it’s more a matter of how you think about it.

The Alluring Guy with Bare-Chested Confidence

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The Wall Street Blues: Dark Humor in Hard Times

The Wall Street Blues: Dark Humor

The Wall Street Blues: Hard Times

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Metamorphosis: Visions of Dark Elegies

Metamorphosis: Visions of Dark Elegies

Glenn Marshall has been described as one of Ireland’s most distinguished digital artists and accomplished computer animators. He began his professional career pioneering a new animation technique for The King’s Wake, which went on to win the Celtic Film and TV festival.

Metamorphosis is an animated video recently created by Marshall, which he produced using graphic design that was programmed entirely in Processing. The somewhat esoteric animation features music by the Boards of Canada, specifically the track Corsair from their Geogaddi album, which establishes a stagnant, twirling dark tone for the film.

Marshall has given a brief description of Metamorphosis, his most recent major work:

Butterfly, my first film and the inspiration behind my whole direction as an artist, is again the inspiration here. When making Butterfly I became obsessed with the wing patterns of the Monarch butterfly and how they looked like imaginary worlds within themselves, where butterflies lived and died according to a holistic, natural mechanism of nature.

These kind of ambitious concepts were difficult for me to implement back then within the practical limits of traditional 3d/2d software. So I wanted Metamorphosis be symbolic of my passing over into 100% programmed/generative computer art, where perhaps these kinds of ideas can reach more of their potential.”

Most people who have posted brief, superficial notes about Metamorphosis have described it as “beautiful,” or “a beautiful vision.” Much to the contrary, I find Metamorphosis to be totally plotless, yet it’s emotionally painful to watch. Painful because if one is really thoughtful about this film, it’s underlying theme is revealed to be a stark requiem of anger and death. The film evolved from Mr. Marshall’s earlier obsession with butterfly wing patterns as imaginary worlds of life unto death (see Exner, J. E., 1993, p. 499). Marshall’s own metamorphosis in making this new animated film noir has ended up with his creation of a mythical shadowy world in which seemingly boundless masses of butterflies appear to be trapped in suffocating confinement, eventually flittering and fluttering aimlessly away into a darkened cosmic void, into a state of non-existence.

If anything, the action in Metamorphosis is so sufficiently and diffusely generalized that the dark elegies it conveys to viewers may well be perceived as an evocation of the unformulated experience of all times of mourning. Or as Carl Sagan, astronomer, educator, author (Cosmos, 1980) and Co-Founder of The Planetary Society once wisely observed:

We are like butterflies who flutter for a day and think it is forever.”

Metamorphosis: Visions of Dark Elegies

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