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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The eve of distraction

The latest anti-Obama tactic from the McCain camp is to scream from the rooftops that the Democratic presidential nominee is friendly with, and has publicly praised, a Palestinian man named Rashid Khalidi.

Khalidi, not surprisingly, is pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel, and the Republicans say Barack Obama’s association with him proves the Democrat can’t be trusted to continue the United States’ longtime support of Israel.

What the Republicans don't tell you is that when the organization Khalidi heads, called the Center for Palestine Research and Studies, received a $448,873 grant in 1998 from a group called the International Republican Institute, the IRI’s chairman was – do you see it coming? – United States Senator John McCain.

The hypocrisy boggles the mind.


How does she say this stuff with a straight face?

According to the Reuters news service, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin said on Thursday that Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama would be incapable of meeting U.S. national security challenges.

I guess, when you get right down to it, Palin does have more foreign policy experience than Obama. After all, I don’t think Obama can see Russia from anywhere in Illinois.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

We ALL wanted to have what she was having

Estelle Reiner - wife of Carl, mother of Rob - has died at age 94.

She had a few small roles in movies, was a painter and became a jazz singer late in life, but she's probably best known for uttering the five famous words at the end of the scene below from "When Harry Met Sally." I laugh out loud, literally, every time I watch this thing, and Mrs. Reiner's line is every bit as memorable as Meg Ryan's, uh, performance.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Joe the Dumber

So it turns out Joe the Plumber is a McCain supporter after all.

Joe, whose real name is Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, plans to campaign for Republican John McCain today in Ohio, apparently because he favors McCain's tax plan over that of Democrat Barack Obama.

Wurzelbacher, you'll remember, became a 15-minutes-of-fame celebrity a few weeks back when, in an exchange caught by TV news cameras, he complained to Obama that the Democrat's tax plan would hurt small businessmen like himself. He told Obama he wanted to buy the plumbing business where he worked and that, as a result, he would bear the brunt of Obama's plan to raises taxes on people and small businesses making more than $250,000 per year.

All this, of course, was before we found out that "Joe" isn't even a licensed plumber (meaning he's not allowed to own a plumbing business in Ohio), doesn't have the money to buy the business and doesn't even have a concrete plan to buy the business. In other words, he's likely to continue working as a plumber's apprentice, a job at which he makes a modest salary and would be helped by Obama's tax plan.

This is a guy who John McCain wants campaigning for him? I guess desperate times do, indeed, call for desperate measures.

But then, Joe isn't really campaigning for McCain. He's just trying to keep his face on TV and his name in the newspapers because - in case you haven't heard - he's planning to run for a seat in the House in 2010.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

The blame game

A reader who posted a comment on the Freeman’s Web site this morning, responding to our election endorsement of Democratic U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey, asserted the nation’s current financial crisis is the fault of Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and – get this – Jimmy Carter, who left office nearly 28 years ago.

Never mind that Carter was followed by 12 years of Republican presidents and Clinton was followed in the White House by the current eight years of Republican George W. Bush. Because the reader doesn’t like Democrats (his posting also takes a swipe at Barack Obama), he simply blames the Democrats for everything that currently ails us.

It’s easy to react to every problem that faces the nation with a knee-jerk partisan response, but such a response is rarely accurate and doesn’t show much depth of thought.

The reality is that members of each major political party have been in control in both the White House and Congress over the last 20 to 30 years, and they all bear some responsibility for what’s happening to us right now.

Blaming only Clinton and Carter for the financial crisis is as short-sighted as blaming only George W. Bush for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

There’s plenty of blame to go around. How about we share it?


Friday, October 24, 2008

Why am I not surprised?

The Associated Press is reporting today that the McCain campaign pays a higher salary to Sarah Palin's stylist than to John McCain's foreign policy adviser.

And the Republicans accuse Obama of putting style over substance? Puh-leeze!


BREAKING NEWS: Fox wants us to ignore Fox

FoxNews, absolutely giddy over this week's poll by The Associated Press that showed Democrat Barack Obama leading Republican John McCain by only 1 percentage point, said at least twice on Thursday that AP's result is the only reliable one and the only one worthy of attention.

Does that mean we should ignore Fox's own latest poll, which shows Obama ahead by 9?

For a good roundup of all the latest polling data, click here.


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Money not well-spent

It cost the Republican Party $150,000 to give Sarah Palin her look?

My 14-year-old son, Marc, is going out on Halloween dressed as Palin. He'll be wearing an $88 black dress that's been hanging in my wife's closet for two years, a wig that my wife bought him for $25 and a "Hockey Mom" button that we found online for $5.

That's a total of $118 (and only if you include the cost of the already-owned dress).

If the McCain-Palin people had just come to us first, we could have saved them $149,882. Just think how many more anti-Obama "robocalls" they could have bought with that money!


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fuzzy math?

I've heard of poll results differing, but this is ridiculous.

At a time when Gallup, Rasmussen, Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby, ABC News/Washington Post, NBC News/Wall Street Journal, CNN, Fox News, Ipsos/McClatchy and Pew Research all have Democrat Barack Obama leading Republican John McCain by anywhere from 5 to 14 percentage points, The Associated Press says its latest poll has Obama leading by only 1 point.

Who, exactly, did AP poll? Ten guys sitting in duck blinds in West Virginia? Five-hundred people at a NASCAR race? The attendees at a National Rifle Association dinner? Sarah Palin's children?

AP generally is a dependable news organization, but its result seems completely out of whack. And it seems even AP itself doubts the data: In a story about the poll, the news service went out of its way to note that most other polls show Obama with a wide lead.


Sobering fact of the day

The Associated Press, in describing today's Wall Street sell-off, noted the following:

It was the fifth time since Sept. 29 that the broadest measure of U.S. stocks, the Dow Jones Wilshire 5,000, had lost more than 5 percent in a day. During the prior 25 years, it had only eight days that bad.



Monday, October 20, 2008

All mud, all the time

"He pals around with terrorists" didn't work.
"Who is the real Barack Obama?" didn't work.
So now the new rallying cry out of John McCain's camp is that Obama is a "socialist."

That's pretty funny coming from a guy who just voted in favor of a $700 billion government bailout for the U.S. banking system.

It also demonstrates a concession by McCain that he can't win this election on his own merits. His only hope, he apparently believes, is to spend the next two weeks tearing down Obama.

But history has proven, time and again, that a candidate trailing in the polls almost never pulls the upset by slinging mud in the home stretch.


Red Sox

I was wrong. I admit it. The Rays figured out how to beat Boston (with no time left to spare), and now they're headed to their first World Series.

And for my next prediction:

The Philadelphia-Tampa Bay series will draw one of the smallest TV audiences in the history of the professional sports championships.


Dull, from New York, it's Sarah Palin!

One of the main knocks against Sarah Palin since she became the Republican vice presidential nominee is that she refuses to do impromptu things – hold press conferences, take questions from the public at campaign events, banter with reporters on her plane. In short, the GOP doesn’t let her stray from the script.

So, naturally, we in the media were giddy when we learned Palin would be appearing on a live TV show – a comedy show, no less – this past weekend. We’d finally see Palin in an anything-goes setting – a setting that, even though scripted, has a history of being unpredictable.

But, sadly, Palin’s appearance on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” wound up being more of the same.

Her role during the opening sketch was to stand in a hallway (away from the audience) and chat with the show’s producer, Lorne Michaels, while Tina Fey reprised her Palin shtick – a press conference during which she refuses to take any questions – in front of the studio crowd. (The scenario had Palin and Michaels watching Fey on a monitor, momentarily joined by “Max Payne” star Mark Wahlberg and Fey’s “30 Rock” co-star Alec Baldwin.)

Palin ultimately took over for Fey at the press conference podium, but only to belt out the show’s signature line – “Live from New York, it’s ‘Saturday Night!’” In other words, her handlers didn’t let her do anything off the cuff or spend more than a few seconds in front of the New York City (read: probably liberal) crowd. Perhaps they feared a reprise of her Oct. 11 appearance at the Rangers-Flyers hockey game in Philadelphia, where she was booed by thousands of people at the Wachovia Center.

Forty-five minutes later, Palin turned up at the “Weekend Update” news desk, but only to sit, watch and shimmy in her chair a little bit as Amy Poehler rattled off a hysterical rap number about Palin’s candidacy. Again, nothing risky for Palin; no real opportunity to screw up.

Much funnier would have been having the entire news segment done by Palin (a Fey look-alike) and Fey’s former “Weekend Update” co-anchor, Jimmy Fallon, who I’m sure would have jumped at the chance. But, again, that would have been too much of a gamble for the GOP, which doesn’t want any more Palin Problems in the crucial closing days of a campaign that has more than enough problems already.

So did Palin do a good job on “SNL”? Sure, I guess so – but only because, like in her debate with Democratic V.P. candidate Joe Biden, she didn’t commit any major gaffes. The way the show was set up, there was no way she could have.


Friday, October 17, 2008


Things I don't care about (but am forced to pay attention to because I'm in the news business):

* Maureen "Marcia" McCormick's drug use, sexual promiscuity and eating disorders in her post-"Brady Bunch" years. (A child actress gone bad? And now she's hawking a book about it? Say it isn't so!)

* Madonna's divorce from filmmaker Guy Ritchie. (A celebrity split? Say it isn't so!)

* The Caylee Anthony case. Is it tragic that a 3-year-old girl is missing and probably dead, and that her mother has been charged with killing her? Of course. But I lost all interest in the story as soon as Nancy Grace started screeching about it for at least an hour every single night on Headline News.

* Joe the Plumber - who, it turns out, is actually named Samuel and doesn't have a plumbing license.

* William Ayers - unless someone can explain to me how Barack Obama once sitting on a school reform committee with a guy who carried out violent acts nearly 40 years earlier is relevant to the current presidential election.

* College football.

* Pro basketball.

* "American Idol" (and all other reality and competition TV shows).

* The debate over whether New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg should be allowed to run for a third term.

And, last but not least ...

* Whether or not you enjoyed this blog entry.


Always bet on Boston

Regular readers of this blog know I'm a die-hard Angels fan - which, by extension, means I hate the Red Sox - but the Boys from Beantown never cease to amaze me.

Down 7-0 in the seventh inning, and facing playoff elimination with a loss, the Sox mounted a comeback for the ages Thursday night to beat the Rays 8-7 in Game 5 of the ALCS.

Now the series moves back to Tampa Bay, where it should be easy enough for the home team to win just one of two games and clinch its first-ever American League pennant.

But it won't happen. Ortiz, Youkilis, Pedroia, Drew and the rest of the defending champions will win Games 6 and 7 and advance to their third World Series in five years.

I predicted this two entries ago ("Remember this, Rays"), and I'm even more sure of it now.

The Red Sox are, quite simply, unstoppable.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thanks for the laugh, Fox

About an hour after last night's third (and final) presidential candidates' debate between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, numerous news outlets and political Web sites started to release the results of their quick-response polls on who won the faceoff.

CNN respondents favored Obama, 58-31.
CBS' survey also gave the win to Obama, 53-22 (with 25 percent calling it a tie).'s survey went 49-46 for Obama.
Newsday (based on Long Island, where the debate was held): 54-32 for Obama.

And FoxNews, the self-proclaimed bastion of "fair and balanced" journalism?
McCain 87, Obama 12.

But then, this is the network that still uses the initials BHO (Barack Hussein Obama) in those bottom-of-the-screen headlines, labels an hourlong lovefest between Sean Hannity and Republican ticketmates McCain and Sarah Palin an "interview," thinks the liberal voter-registration group ACORN is somehow responsible for the mortgage mess and spent part of 2003 referring to the war on terror World War III. So I guess nothing on the Fox airwaves should surprise me anymore.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Remember this, Rays

Tampa Bay may think it has Boston on the ropes, leading the best-of-seven American League Championship Series three games to one.

But history is hard to ignore: The last three times the Red Sox reached the World Series, they did so by overcoming deficits of 3-1, 3-0 and 3-1 in the ALCS (in 1986 against the Angels, in 2004 against the Yankees and last year against the Indians, respectively).

Seeing it happen again this year wouldn't surprise me in the least.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Oink, oink

Republican John McCain, speaking today at a campaign rally in Virginia Beach, Va., said he would, if elected president, veto any bill from Congress that contains "pork barrel" spending.

You mean like the pork-laden financial bailout bill that you voted IN FAVOR OF 10 days ago, Sen. McCain?

Talk about hypocrisy!


Friday, October 10, 2008

It's a gas, gas, gas

The good news? The price of gas is down to about $3.35 a gallon in the Kingston area.

The bad news? We're still being had.

When the price of oil topped out at $147 a barrel, gas was selling for $4.20 a gallon. As of this morning, oil is $80 a barrel. Proportional math dictates a gallon of gas should, as a result, cost $2.29.

Feel as good as you like about paying $3.35, but do it with the understanding that you're being overcharged by almost 50 percent and that the gas and oil companies are pocketing the difference.


Another Innovative Gouging

Let me see if I have this right:

A few weeks back, the federal government floated AIG an $85 billion loan to help the troubled insurer stay afloat.

Earlier this week, we learned that AIG - after begging for and receiving the government aid - spent $440,000 to send some of its executives to a swanky spa near Los Angeles for several days of overpriced pampering.

So what does the government, which should be livid, do in response? It announces on Wednesday that it's giving AIG another $37 million in financial assistance.

And people seriously wonder why the financial industry, the stock market and the U.S. economy are going to hell? It's not too difficult to figure out.


Saturday, October 4, 2008

Interesting choice of words

L. Brooks Patterson, a Republican who serves as a county executive near Detroit, uttered a very telling quote when expressing dismay that GOP presidential candidate John McCain had abandoned the effort to make Michigan a red state in the November election.

“When the general leaves the battlefield when the fight’s still going on, it creates a lot of chaos,” Patterson said.


Intentionally or not, Patterson essentially referred to his party's nominee – a man who often cites his military experience in Vietnam as a leadership quality – as a bad soldier.



Clearing my head

Sorry I’ve been MIA for the past week.
It’s been a busy period at work, and Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year) occupied much of my time from Monday night to Wednesday night, so blogging got back-burnered.
But I’m back now. And in case you care, here’s what’s been on my mind:

* Members of Congress look like idiots when they vote against a bill one day and then vote for it a few days later. I’m referring, of course, to the financial bailout package that the House rejected on Monday and approved on Friday. Did the deliberate flip-floppers think they were making some grand statement by voting “nay” the first time around only to ultimately vote “yea” in Round 2? Was it an election ploy – the ability to go home and tell constituents that the first vote represented true convictions but the second was a matter of necessity? If that’s the case, it was a pretty costly ploy. The rejection on Monday knocked 778 points (read: trillions of dollars) off the Dow Jones industrial average, and by the time the rescue measure finally got majority backing on Friday, investors had lost all faith and sent the Dow down another 157. When all was said and done, the bellwether stock index wound up losing about 7.5 percent of its value over the week’s five trading sessions – and people whose retirement savings are tied to the market lost a major chuck of their nest eggs. That’s worth remembering when deciding who to vote for in your congressional district next month.

* Sarah Palin was as pitiful in Thursday night’s vice presidential debate against Joe Biden as she was in her speech at the Republican National Convention (when she spoke well but said nothing of substance) and in her recent interviews with ABC’s Charles Grodin and CBS’ Katie Couric. All style, no substance. She’s got a smile that can light up a room and knows how to turn on that folksy (or perhaps phony) charm that Middle America seems to like, but her lack of knowledge about such basic things as Supreme Court cases, how many troops the United States has in Iraq, even the constitutional role of the vice president simply disqualifies her for high national office. And telling debate moderator Gwen Ifill that she wouldn’t necessarily answer the questions that were asked of her was just downright arrogant.

* O.J. Simpson’s trial for armed robbery and kidnapping is over? It’s been only three weeks, for heaven’s sake! I was planning my schedule for the next year around this thing. Now I’ll need to find other things to do with my time – like go to work and hang out with my wife and son. (Sigh!) And how ironic that O.J., convicted on all counts in the Las Vegas case, might spend the rest of his life in prison for a crime much less serious than the one we all know he committed 14 years ago. It’s kinda like when the feds got Al Capone for tax evasion.

* What is it about the Red Sox that so spooks the Angels in baseball’s postseason? Los Angeles, owners of this year’s best record in the Majors, beat Boston in eight of nine regular-season games in 2008, but come October, and forced to face the boys from Beantown, the Angels fold like a cheap suit. It all started in 1986, when the then-California Angels lost the American League Championship Series to Boston, four games to three, after leading 3-1 and being one strike away from victory in the ninth inning of Game 5. Then, after the Angels finally won the World Series in 2002 (a year that Boston didn’t reach the playoffs), the Sox swept the Halos in the 2004 and 2007 American League Division Series, and they’re about to do it again. Friday night’s win in Ahaheim gave Boston a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series, and Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for Sunday and Monday at Fenway. Translation for the Angels: Good night, drive safely, don’t forget to tip your server. See you next April.

* Speaking of baseball, how is that no one in management in the Yankees and Mets organizations is being shown the door after the Yankees failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1993 and the Mets coughed up a near-certain playoff berth for the second year in a row? Conventional wisdom dictates either the manager or the general manager gets the ax when such things happen, but the Yankees have announced GM Brian Cashman and skipper Joe Girardi are both coming back in 2009, and ditto for Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel in Mets country. And the teams’ owners expect better results next year? OK. Whatever.

* A story on page A3 of this morning’s Freeman tells of 20 condos in a new development in the Greene County village of Catskill that will be auctioned off on Nov. 1 because they failed to sell at market prices. In the current real estate climate, the need for such an auction is no surprise. What is a surprise, though, is that the auction is being held in Teaneck, N.J. (where either the developer or auction house is based). Wouldn’t it make more sense to hold it where the condos are located?

* Lastly, I’d like to wish my Jewish readers a happy new year (shana tova in Hebrew). As we say in shul, “May you be inscribed in the Book of Life.”