. . . Wednesday November 1, 2006

Botchy Ball

The botched joke heard around the country is topping the news at many outlets today. It could be the single political moment of the season that best illustrates why so many people hate politics, the media and have an incredible urge to take a nap for the next week or so.

Let’s review. During a rally for California’s Phil Angelides (who, alas, is running a campaign even more boring than Kerry’s), John Kerry let slip the following statement:

“You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

According to team Kerry, he meant to say:

“It’s great to be here with college students. I can’t overstress the importance of a great education. Do you know where you end up if you don’t study, if you aren’t smart, if you’re intellectually lazy? You end up getting us stuck in a war in Iraq. Just ask President Bush.”

Now, let the ultimate fighting cage match begin!

Needless to say, the GOP (longing for something to sink their teeth into) were all over the unpatriotic, military hating, liberal-elitist Kerry. Does it matter that folks with a serious case of personal combat intolerance are pointing this finger at a vet? It didn’t matter two years ago, why would it matter now?

If you’re a thinking American, you’re left with two possible reactions (and having both simultaneously is entirely possible – and when mixed with vodka and Percocet makes a delightful cocktail). One reaction would be to knock yourself on the head in disbelief that Kerry again (in his words) botched a line and then followed that botched remark up with an unsatisfying retreat (ah the memories). The other reaction is to be disgusted with a Bush administration that would try to capitalize on this gaffe even though the real story on the ground is a whole lot more offensive to members of the military than any combination of words could ever be.

But let’s not forget that the list of villians here includes the 24 hour news networks. Not only did they give this ultimately meaningless verbal slip wall to wall coverage, CNN even gave it Breaking News banner treatment. Quick, Madonna, adopt someone.

So where does this leave us? Probably at about the same place (sans Kerry) we were before the Kerry speech – with the addition of a sour stomach and few less clumps of hair on our heads. As mentioned, most military families have a lot more important things to worry about than political fingerpointing (and things are trending worse, not better. And the Bush team attacks bring the broader issue of Iraq to the front of voters’ minds and the focus on Kerry might backfire in the absence of any positive selling of the Bush record.

Ultimately, the electoral flashback featuring two dudes not on any ballot this year makes it even more clear that Bush is the central issue in this campaign. But that might be as close as we get to the word issue for the next week.


To Life, To Life Lechaim

While yesterday’s science related news gave us a real bummer (less calories equals better health and a longer life), today’s health headlines keep hope alive. It turns out that red wine contains a natural substance called resveratrol that can reverse the effects of a high calorie diet and extend longevity. As if we needed more good news, coffee may cut the risk of diabetes. Looks like I’m having another liquid lunch.

Don’t Pour Me Any Bubbly

The NYT features a story on Valley venture firm that launched a new program to provide big loans to internet start-ups to help them get off the ground quickly. The inside-baseball details aside (I am an early stage investor in internet start-ups), the general idea that we need to make it even easier for start-ups to get dough and that an old school VC would be so heavily marketing itself to young companies is giving me a real 1999 feeling. Remember, the key element of Web 2.0 is that companies can more cheaply build and prove concepts. Let’s keep the big money out of it until big money is needed. Last time that trend took hold, it ended real ugly (and I’ve got the sock puppets to prove it).


Maybe public opinion is to blame for bad policy … Why are major chain stores trading windows for walls? … Bechtel is pulling out of Iraq (54 of their contractors have been killed) and a security team called Kroll is also leaving after losing 4 employees … A detailed examination of America’s slowing growth … Is really, really needing the money (in this case for gambling) an excuse for embezzlement? … Barry Diller’s $20 billion web empire … The are now 100 million sites on the web (I like to think mine is solidly in the top 99.9 million or so) … Duct tape as babysitter? … Donald Trump has violated zoning laws by, um, erecting an 80 foot flag pole in Palm Beach (insert compensation package joke here) …

Back at you manana …

Concentration is important!