Archive for October, 2008

Apparently They’ve Learned Nothing

Posted on October 31st, 2008 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

White House Makes Last Push to Deregulate

The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.

—Washington Post, today

Bad, bad banks

Posted on October 31st, 2008 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Clyde Haberman, who is the Times’ resident curmudgeon Alex Beam, has a great column this morning on the things we all hate about banks

1) Let’s start with something really easy. Is it too much to ask that all banks have pens that work on the counters with the deposit and withdrawal slips? In too many places, the pens are useless. How can people feel confident that their money is being managed wisely if those in charge can’t even provide a functioning pen?

2) How about a moratorium on new bank branches in New York neighborhoods? …[Many New Yorkers] Many are infuriated as they watch cherished local stores die and give way to impersonal bank outlets, often located within yards of one another. Enough is enough.

3) Why not forbid any bank receiving taxpayer money to purchase naming rights to sports stadiums and arenas? Citigroup is handing the Mets something like $20 million a year to call their new stadium Citi Field. Surely, the Mets do not need Citigroup’s money — not to mention yours — to keep failing to make the playoffs.

[Blogger: An excellent point about the Mets.]

4) Might we end the procedure by which banks stiff you when you deposit a large check

5) For that matter, why must bank customers pay several times to retrieve cash at an A.T.M.?

So true—Chase ATMs now charge an absurd $3 if you’re not a Chase customer. I recommend a virtual checking account, like the one I have at Fidelity, which reimburses me for all ATM fees up to $1000 a year. 

I love Haberman’s populist anger….


Quote for the Day

Posted on October 30th, 2008 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

“It has also got our side energized—they see what is happening.”

Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) on heavy African-American early voting.

They see what is happening?

My Nanny

Posted on October 30th, 2008 in Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

When I was a kid, my parents decided that they wanted to hire someone to help my mother with my siblings and me. They looked through the paper (not sure which, probably the Times) and saw a classified ad from a young woman looking for work. She was French, maybe 17, and had come to New York to study dance. My mom and dad hired her, and the woman would become our au pair for the next year.

Eventually, she returned to France. And though she gave up dance, Nathalie Baye has become one of that country’s most accomplished and iconic actresses. (Americans who aren’t into French cinema may know her as Leo DiCaprio’s mom in “Catch Me If You Can.”)

Nathalie’s still a family friend. My mother sees her fairly frequently, and I got the chance to visit with her in New York a couple years ago, when she was in town for a film screening at the Alliance Francaise. And a year or so before that, when I was visiting Paris a lot, I spent some time with Nathalie there. She’s a beautiful, charming and soulful woman, and it’s fun to hear her talk about what I was like at age four.

Occasionally I get the chance to read about Nathalie in the press, as in today’s NYT’s article about France’s changing sexual mores.

The posters were advertising “Cliente,” a popular movie that revolves around clichés about prostitution and gigolos in France. Judith, the client, who is played by Nathalie Baye, one of France’s highest-paid actresses, is not a pathetic, lifted rich woman of a certain age and nothing to do. Rather, she is a hard-charging, 51-year-old television shopping-channel anchor and director who, after her marriage falls apart, wants good sex without strings and is willing to pay handsomely for it.

Strange, a bit, to have your nanny playing a sexually liberated woman paying for sex. But not really, except that it says something about the never-ending process of growing up. I love watching Nathalie as she pushes limits in ways that few American actresses get the chance to. And isn’t this a wonderful thing about life—the way that our ability to appreciate people becomes more expansive as we grow older?

You Know John McCain’s In Trouble When…

Posted on October 30th, 2008 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Indianans with a Confederate flag outside their house also have an Obama sign by the steps….




The Case Against John McCain

Posted on October 30th, 2008 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

He made it himself yesterday, when he criticized Barack Obama’s purchase of television time to run a half-hour infomercial.

It used to be that only rain or some other act of God could delay the World Series, but I guess the network execs figured an Obama infomercial was close enough.”

McCain has used this line or a variation repeatedly.

“No one will delay the World Series with an infomercial when I’m president,” he said to the approval of a crowd of thousands at a stadium here.

Set aside the fact that the people at Fox swear the Series wasn’t delayed because of Obama’s ad buy. Never mind that McCain’s convention speech forced the NFL to change the starting time of its opening game.

Let’s just put this in perspective. We’re a country fighting two wars, and probably losing one of them. We’ve been slammed with the worst economic crisis since the Depression. We have a ten trillion dollar national debt. Ninety percent of the public thinks the country is headed in the wrong direction. Et cetera.

And John McCain thinks that starting the World Series on time is more important than the race for the presidency?

If McCain doesn’t think that the presidential election is more important than the starting time of a baseball game, why on earth should anyone vote for him for president?

Reach Out and Touch What?

Posted on October 30th, 2008 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

My friend Eric thinks the video/song below is proof that the end is near.

Hilary Duff – Reach Out – Official Music Video Premiere

Why? Because about 98% of the song is simply lifted from Depeche Mode’s classic, “Personal Jesus,” below.

The appropriation doesn’t bother me so much. But I do find it funny that Hillary Duff, in such a wonderfully, narcissistically modern way, changes the lyric “Reach out, touch faith,” to “reach out and touch me.” Which, in a way that’s so typical of a certain strain in tweener pop culture, completely drains the song of its meaning.

(The DM video, like a combination of an Almodovar film and a spaghetti western, is certainly more interesting.)

Of course, Personal Jesus has been covered before, and brilliantly, by Johnny Cash.

And, not entirely surprisingly, Marilyn Manson did a version.

I guess the moral of the story is that Jesus means different things to different people. To a young woman, it’s about her own sexual power. To Depeche Mode, it’s about personal choice—the faith you touch could be drugs, music, sex, Jesus himself, whatever. To Marilyn Manson, it’s about the subversion of faith; when “Jesus” can mean Satan, or Hitler, then really what is the meaning of faith? (And what is that woman doing on that horse?)

As for Johnny Cash, whose version is really quite beautiful, faith is what keeps you going at the twilight of a life.

At The End of the Day….

Posted on October 30th, 2008 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

The campaign has been costly in terms of McCain’s reputation. He has been condemned for small-minded partisanship, not praised for his generous and important suggestion that the major-party candidates stump the country together, conducting weekly joint town hall meetings — an innovation Obama turned down.

“Generous and important suggestion”?

Maybe It’s time for David Broder to retire.

Teach Your Children Well

Posted on October 30th, 2008 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

The Times reports that Ted Stevens, returning home to campaign in Alaska before (presumably) going to jail, received “a hero’s welcome.”

Alaska’s not exactly covering itself with glory these days….


(NYT photo)


“The Crucified USA”

Posted on October 29th, 2008 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Loving this new song from Kings of Leon….