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goddess of clarity: a blog about politics, culture, and serenity

Archive: August 1 - August 31, 2008

August 27, 2008 — 18:56 EDT

The Goddess Watches the Democratic National Convention

(so you don't have to)

6:30pm — I got home just in time to watch Hillary Clinton move that the roll call vote be suspended and that Barack Obama be named the Democratic nominee by acclimation.

6:38pm — Nancy Pelosi rockets past the "All-those-opposed-signify-by-saying-No" part with lightning speed. Sadly, this means we won't get to hear the rest of the roll call of states, with their colorful factoids. "We the delegation from the great state of Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweeping down the plain, home of the country's largest wheat silo, the world-record holder for the most tornados in a single day, the third-flattest state in the Union, etc., etc., etc..."

7:00pm — After the momentous moment with Hillary Clinton, the convention shifts over to some decidedly B-league stuff. Here's the line-up leading up to prime time: our other senator from New York, Chuck "Never Met a Camera I Didn't Like" Schumer; New Mexico Representative Tom Udall; former governor of New Hampshire Jeane Shaheen; Senate candidates Jeff Merkley and Tom Allen; a parade of congresswomen; a Michigan firefighter; and Melissa Etheridge.

7:05pm — I think I'll watch my Tivo'd episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report for a while.

8:10pm — Back at the convention, I've just hit the mute button on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and I think most of the crowd on the floor did as well.

8:20pm — Sgt. Major Michele Jones takes the podium and shows Harry Reid how it's done. Ma'am, yes ma'am!

8:26pm — Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania, who represents my parents' district and is the only Iraq War veteran serving in Congress, is ripping President Bush a new one for his conduct of the Iraq War.

9:00pm — The Big Dog is in the house! Give it up for the Bubba-in-Chief, Bill Clinton! Michelle Obama looks like she may pass out. The crowd is going ape-shit, and Clinton has to scold them to get them to stop so he can begin his speech. The first words out of his mouth: "I am here first to support Barack Obama!" And a grateful Michelle Obama (and the rest of the crowd) exhales.

9:30pm — Last year's loser John Kerry, who's fading sticker still mocks my bumper, is warming up the crowd (believe it or not). Kerry -- who more than anyone else knows how effective this argument can be -- is flip-flopping the flip-flopper, pointing out all this issues where candidate McCain now disagrees with Senator McCain. Best line: "Talk about being for it before you were against it!"

10:01pm — Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg have cornered the market on honoring our veterans through the medium of film, and they are at it again, with a tribute video.

10:30pm — Michelle Obama is sobbing as Beau Biden tells the story of the childhood car accident the claimed his mother and infant sister a few weeks after his father Joe Biden became the youngest senator ever elected to that office.

10:34pm — OK, this is totally pathetic but Joe Biden is making me cry with his homespun advice from his mother Katherine Eugenia Finnegan, the most Irish woman in America.

10:55pm — Joe's wife Jill announces that we have "a surprise guest." And it's Barack Obama, live and in person this time! He surprises Jill Biden with a kiss on the lips (at least I think that's what I saw!). I don't know, this is kinda weird. It's a little like seeing the bride before the wedding.

So tomorrow is the big night, when the scene moves to Mile Hile Stadium. It's sorta feels like the Olympic closing ceremonies all over again. Maybe there will be thousands of drummers and brightly dressed children singing songs of peace.


August 26, 2008 — 20:23 EDT

The Goddess Watches the Democratic National Convention

(so you don't have to)

My conference committee meeting ran late tonight -- mainly because I decided to stay at the bar we were meeting in for a second beer -- so I missed the following highlights of tonight's convention coverage: Representative Rahm Emmanual, Majority leader Steny Hoyer, and Iowa flood victim Katherine Marcano. Of course, the big moment tonight belongs to Hillary, but that's several hours off. This leaves plenty of time for the network talking heads to discuss the fact that the Hillary supporters "aren't there yet," and how they "need to find closure." Good lord. Get a grip, people.

8:20pm — A home healthcare worker with whom Barack Obama once spent the day seems scared to death as she reads her remarks without lifting her eyes from the podium. Why are the Democrats terrorizing this poor woman?

8:23pm — The first officer of the Service Employees International Union (who is from my home town of Levittown, PA) is scaring the rest of us to death as she positively screams at the audience about the importance of organized labor. Dial it down a notch, comrade!

8:27pm — Janet Napolitano, the governor of Arizona, is wearing the pinkest turtleneck ever, and taking cheap shots at her fellow Arizonan, John McCain.

8:50pm — The Republican mayor of Fairbanks, Alaska, just endorsed "Barack Obamas" for president of the United States.

8:55pm — Tonight's theme must be "The Parade of Ordinary Citizens Who Are Deathly Afraid of Public Speaking." The next victim is Gloria Craven, a laid-off North Carolina textile worker with huge medical bills.

9:00pm — Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius is at the podium, which gives the pundits a chance to talk about the fact that some Hillary supporters demanded that Obama *not* choose any woman for vice president if he did not choose Hillary. I'm starting to think some of these women are a little loose in the screws.

9:32 pm — "Who is that grandmother from Alabama at the podium?" The lady with the Civil War accent is the fantastically named Lilly Ledbetter, who took her discrimination lawsuit against Goodyear all the way to the Supreme Court. She seems terrified too, but so far she's given the most compelling speech of the night.

9:41 pm — Time for the keynote speaker -- otherwise known as Hillary's opening act -- Virginia governor Mark Warner. My favorite line: "Just think about this: In six months, we will have an administration that actually believes in science!" It's funny 'cuz it's true.

10:24 pm — Can I just say that I am so happy that PBS has historians on staff. How cool is that? It's like having a Senior Librarian Correspondent.

10:30 pm — Is the Governor of Montana still talking?! At least he has an actual personality, even if that personality is currently wearing a bolo tie.

10:31 pm — It's the big moment, everyone! Put on your Hillary hats! It's time for the soft focus video, followed by Chelsea -- who I really, really like -- and now Hillary herself. Cut to Bill, who appears to be crying. As are many others in the crowd. And shit, she is good. She kicked some major ass, on this the 88th anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote. Best moment:

"I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young Marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage? Were you in it for all the people in this country who feel invisible?"

My prediction, if I may: Will the pundits start asking whether the speech was *too* good? After watching a tearful delegate on CNN, almost inconsolable, stare into the camera and cry, "Look what she could have done! You saw it, you saw it. Look at the president she could have become," I think that may be a common theme in the next day or two.


August 25, 2008 — 20:22 EDT

The Goddess Watches the Democratic National Convention

(so you don't have to)

8:15 pm — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls the convention to order. Somewhat ironically, the Speaker is not a very good speaker. CNN isn't even covering her remarks, and I think they may be on to something. "It wasn't the Gettysburg Address," says PBS's David Brooks.

8:28 pm — Ya gotta watch C-Span to get the full package, it seems. Right now, Jimmy Carter is on screen narrating a video feature about Hurricane Katrina. And there is the man himself, getting a great reception. No speech from Carter -- bummer.

8:35 pm — Cut to Barack Obama's sister. "Growing up, we didn't have much. But what we did have was blah di blah blah... believe in your dreams ... yadda yadda yadda." I hope we get past the empty cliches sometime soon.

8:43 pm — Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. gives a stirring address, reminding the delegates that it was 45 years ago this week that Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech. "Freedom has never rung from a higher mountaintop than it has today," concludes Jackson from his perch in the Mile High City of Denver. Cut to "Are You Gonna Go My Way" by Lenny Kravitz. Color that seque ... odd.

9:06 pm —"We're two hours into this, and we've had nothing compelling for television," says CNN's David Gergen. Sorry Democrats, but I've gotta agree.

9:10 pm — Speaking of "not compelling television," we now turn to Tom Balanoff, the Chicago president of the Service Employees International Union. Thanks for that, C-Span.

9:15 pm — The orchestra strikes up "Sweet Caroline" as Caroline Kennedy comes to the podium to introduce a video that introduces Ted Kennedy.

9:31 pm — The man himself strides to the stage and the crowd goes crazy. Cutting to multiple Kennedys in the audience, it's hard not to notice that they all have the same teeth.

9:48 pm —Pity poor Miguel Del Valle, Chicago City Clerk, who has to follow the Kennedy tribute. At least the only folks who will see him are C-Span viewers.

10:05 pm —Republican congressman Jim Leach explains why he is an Obama supporter. Wow, this guy is completely charisma-free.

10:24 pm — Time for the Michelle Obama introductory video. We have Bill "The Man from Hope" Clinton to thank for this Tyranny of the Film.

10:37 pm — The woman of the hour takes the podium. And she is good. I mean, she is awesome good. People in the crowd are openly weeping. Then the kids come out and the stage becomes a total Cuteness Zone.

Tomorrow night we witness the obligatory bow-down to Hillary. Let's hope things don't go from cute to ugly.


August 24, 2008 — 22:04 EDT

Quote of the Week

"That was the most entertaining three minutes of the last two weeks!"

(Mr. Goddess, watching London mayor Boris "Rabbit in the Headlights" Johnson accept the handover from Beijing to London for the 2012 Olympics.)

Boris Johnson

Right then, what the bloody hell am I supposed to do with this thing, then? Right! Wave the flag! Hand it over, Jacques!


August 24, 2008 — 9:51 EDT

A Text in the Night

A 3 o'clock in the morning, Barack Obama sent the following e-mail message:


I have some important news that I want to make official.

I've chosen Joe Biden to be my running mate.

Joe and I will appear for the first time as running mates this afternoon in Springfield, Illinois -- the same place this campaign began more than 19 months ago.

I'm excited about hitting the campaign trail with Joe, but the two of us can't do this alone. We need your help to keep building this movement for change.

Please let Joe know that you're glad he's part of our team. Share your personal welcome note and we'll make sure he gets it:

Thanks for your support,

Sadly, I didn't receive the message. I've gotten the bumper sticker and the increasingly frequent requests to send the Obama campaign still more money, but for all the very clever emphasis on text messaging and mailing lists, I heard of the Biden pick the same way most people did, I suppose: someone told me.

I like Joe Biden.

He was the first politician to offer a serious solution to the Iraq War, plus he has an alarming tendency to say what he's thinking. In my initial summary of the Democratic field, I mused that the perfect candidate would have Joe Biden's foreign policy experience, John Edwards' health care policy, Bill Richardson's energy plan, and Barack Obama's ability to inspire. Two out of four ain't bad, especially since one part of the equation turned out to be a cheating stupidhead.


Thanks for the note.

Just a thought: If you pick Bill Richardson as your Secretary of Energy, I think we'd be all set.

Let's discuss offline.


PS -- Please stop asking me for money.


August 20, 2008 — 21:15 EDT

It's my Birthday; Time for a Hair-Brained Scheme

I love lists: making them, following them, crossing items off them.

During my lovely birthday dinner, with the lovely Mr. Goddess, at the lovely Rooney's restaurant in lovely Rochester, I had an idea for another lovely list.

During the next year, I am going to eat at every restautant in Rochester, NY.

Like a good mix tape, a list needs rules:

From the classy cocktails of 2 Vine to the burgers and shakes of Zebbs; this will be the Year of Eating Alphabetically.


August 15, 2008 — 21:20 EDT

Unflattering Politician Photo of the Week

(Say It Ain't So Edition)

John Edwards in Enquirer

You're a New-York-City-party-girl-turned-videographer recently hired by my campaign, I just finished second in the Iowa caucuses. Let's go back to my hotel room. Who could possibly find out?

Adding further evidence to the "people with penises can not be trusted to govern themselves, let alone nations" argument, former Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards has admitted that he had an affair with a freelance videographer while running for president. And this after his wife of 30 years had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Nice. Classy. Real smooth, dickwad.


August 14, 2008 — 22:05 EDT

Quote of the Day

"I'd bang the Belgians."

(Mr. Goddess apraises the Belgian beach volleyball team, who have decidely more meat on their bones than the tall, skinny, impossibly toned Americans.)

Belgian beach volleyball team

The chunky Belgians are my new Olympic heros.


August 10, 2008 — 20:39 EDT

Sunday Snapshot


Huzzah! Crazy hailstorm at the New York Renaissance Faire today.


August 9, 2008 — 11:00 EDT

The Goddess Watches the Olympic Opening Ceremony (so you don't have to)

Olympic rings

I am an Olympic junkie.

The marquee sports like track and field and swimming, the obscure sports like handball and judo: I love them all. I even love those sappy, over-produced profiles of Olympic athletes that NBC is always criticized for airing. The story of the pole vaulter who overcame dyslexia and lactose intolerance to achieve his Olympic dream? -- Love it! I'm not made of wood, people!

At some level, of course, I do realize that anything that might have been considered pure or inspirational about the Olympics has largely been hijacked by Our Corporate Masters and the high-stakes game of "win at all costs" that leads to doping scandals. I guess I am just so desperate to be inspired that I'm willing to forget all that for a couple weeks every two years. Am I kidding myself? You bet. But I am kidding myself at an Olympic level, and that makes me proud to be an American.

The opening ceremony is usually part Cirque du Soleil Vegas spectacular, part international fashion show, and all overseen by the lovely Bob Costas.

7:30 — As the taped coverage of the opening ceremony begins on NBC at 7:30 pm, I can watch live online video of the equestrian dressage event at 7:30 am in Beijing. Thank you, Internet!

8:20 — Two thousand and eight drummers count down to the start of the ceremony. I think it looks impressive. Mr. Goddess thinks it looks fascist. I suppose the two aren't mutually exclusive.

Chinese costumes

8:33 — Here come the children. It wouldn't be an Olympic opening ceremony without colorfully dressed children.

8:45 — Dancers wearing paint suits (not "pant suits," but "paint suits") are creating calligraphy with their bodies across the world's largest LCD screen. OK, that is just cool.

9:10 — Mr. Goddess and I just got into a brief, heated argument about whether criticizing Communism is the same as praising American capitalism and democracy. I think we may be taking this a bit too seriously. Look, pretty costumes.

tai chi masters perform

9: 18 — Two thousand and eight tai chi masters put on an impressive (or is that "fascist"?) display. Is it official? Do the Chinese own us yet?

9:30 — Cutting back to the live coverage online, Mr. Goddess thinks the Canadian weightlifter is hot. She is kinda cute.

9:40 — The parade of nations begins, but it's not in alphabetical order. Guinea then Turkey, then Yemen, then Maldives? Whatever, China. Plus, they keep playing bagpipe music as the athletes march in. As Mr. Goddess is quick to (repeatedly) remind me, Scotland doesn't have an Olympic team. Puerto Rico? Sure, come on in. Scotland? Nope, sorry, you've go stand over there with those guys with the Union Jacks.

10:01 — So far, the best America-centric reference to a foreign nation goes to Jim Lampley who describes Malawi as being "in the news lately because Madonna adopted a child from there." The guy who fixed our TV is from Malawi.

Bush checks his watch

10:30 — "How many more countries do I have to sit through?" A bored President Bush checks his watch during the jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring opening ceremonies, a once-in-a-lifetime event that most people love to have the opportunity to attend. Just five more months, folks...

10:51 — The only thing Bob Costas knows about Zaire is the Ali-Frazier fight. I think he's used that reference at every Olympic Games he's covered, which is pretty much all of them.

lighting the torch

11:40 — It's time to light the Olympic flame, and the Chinese certainly don't skimp on the spectacle. 45-year-old Olympic gymnast Li Ning is whisked to the top of the absolutely gorgeous Birds Nest Stadium where he runs -- sideways -- along a digital "track" to light the fuse on the giant torch. "When it comes to opening ceremonies, retire the trophy," says Costas. I pity the folks in London tomorrow morning. Wouldn't want to be on that organizing committee. "I've got an idea, Nigel. What if we lit the torch with a giant laser beam fired from the London Eye?" "No, Simon, that's too 'Dr. Who'. Now think, people. Think!"

Finally, what would an opening ceremony recap be without a run down of the good, the bad, and the ugly in Olympic fashion.

The Good

Team Great Britain

Great Britain is looking good in their skinny jeans and tailored jackets. Very Cool Britannia.

Team Canada

Canada are looking stylish as usual, but Mr. Goddess thinks they look like they're wearing bowling shirts.

Team Hungary

Hungary make a statement with bright red flowers.

Team Sweden

And the prize for cleverness goes to Sweden, who wear Chinese-inspired outfits and fans in Swedish colors.

The Bad

Team USA looks like a Ralph Lauren ad, but that's cuz that's what they are.

The poor Polish women are wearing what appear to be prom dresses.

The Dutch look like ugly carnival barkers.

The Ugly

Russia. Paisley turtlenecks in summer? Yechkk!

Australian came to the Olympics wearing their best shiny chav suits, complete with baseball cap. Classy.


August 5, 2008 — 20:36 EDT


potato chip picnic

Above is the very civilized picnic my friends and I were enjoying during Elvis Costello's set before The Police concert at Saratoga Springs. Not pictured is the Camelback full of chardonnay we had smuggled in.

It's not pictured because about four minutes after we had each poured ourselves a glass, we found ourselves surrounded by four security guards grabbing the plastic cups out of our stunned, middle-aged hands. I was actually eating paté and blue cheese at the time. The two dozen or so kids smoking pot withing a 10-yard radius emerged unmolested by The Man.

Kevin at least had the quickness of mind to ask, "can we just pound them?" Which is how I found myself chugging chardonnay while Elvis sang "Everyday I Write the Book."

When the world is running down, you make the best of what's still around. In our case, that left chips and blueberries.


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