Friday, October 22, 2010

This is NOT Ozzy Ozborne

It's been a long time since I wrote or did video on U.S. Politics. But in this case, I felt strongly enough to risk being mistaken for Ozzy Osbourne.

Mickeleh's Take: She denies being a witch. But she doesn't deny believing in witches. Clearly she knows her base.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Chico Marx Explains the Democratic Strategy on Healthcare

I was trying to remember why the Democratic strategy on healthcare seems so familiar, suddenly I remembered where I had previously seen it: In the Marx Bros. classic, "A Night at the Opera."

Chico is sneaking into the country by impersonating a famous aviator. Asked to make a speech he foreshadows the way the Democrats are behaving with regard to passing healthcare reform:
"So now I tell you how we fly to America. The first time we started we got-a half way there when we run out a gasoline, and we gotta go back. Then I take-a twice as much gasoline. This time we're just about to land, maybe three feet, when what do you think: we run out of gasoline again. And-a back-a we go again to get-a more gas. This time I take-a plenty gas. Well, we get-a half way over, when what do you think happens: we forgot-a the airplane. So, we gotta sit down and we talk it over. Then I get-a the great idea. We no take-a gasoline, we no take-a the airplane. We take steamship, and that friends, is how we fly across the ocean."

You can see a clip of this scene online at TCM.

Mickeleh's Take: Well, at least Chico managed to find a way to complete the journey.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Does Keith Olbermann Still Not Vote?

My sister reminded me last night that Keith Olbermann once proclaimed that he doesn't vote. Astonished, I asked the Google and found this OJR interview from 2004:
OJR: How would you describe yourself politically on the liberal-to-conservative spectrum? How important do you think it is for MSM to be transparent on their political affiliations?

KO: I'm not political. I don't vote -- I don't believe journalists covering politics should (and I don't think the democracy would suffer if however many of us there are, recused ourselves). I have no more interest in the political outcome of an election than I did in the winner or loser of any ballgame I ever covered. I think transparency is vital; I think it's also, in these super-heated political times, unintentionally inescapable. If a reporter's work in turn winds up criticizing a candidate or party in some cases, and praising that same candidate or party in others, he's as close to neutral as he can be. If not, he's a partisan. The partisans outnumber the neutrals 1000:1.
Mickeleh's Take: This statement predates Olbermann's signature Special Comments, which began August 30, 2006. Anybody know if Keith still claims to have no interest in the political outcome of an election? Is, "I don't vote" still operative?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Obama's Closing Infomercial and FDR's

Obama's cross-network TV infomercial tomorrow night is probably the single most expensive political ad buy in history: Thirty minutes on CBS, NBC, Fox, three cable news nets, (but not ABC).

The precedent for this is older than the TV era. On election eve, 1944, the Democrats bought an hour of time on all four national radio networks to drum up votes for Roosevelt in his campaign against New York governor Thomas E. Dewey.

SNL previewed Obama's closer as a variety show.

I have no idea if that's what Obama's team has planned. But an all-star variety show is just what FDR's team delivered.

In 1944, the Democrats handed the assignment for developing the format and script for their get-out-the-vote broadcast to Norman Corwin, the most imaginative and poetic writer of the radio era, (still active today at 98). Erik Barnouw wrote that based on the President's approval of a two-page outline, Corwin was given a free hand to develop the show.

What he delivered combines testimonials from citizens across the country and the political spectrum, combined with musical numbers written for the show by Earl Robinson ("Joe Hill," "The House I Live In," "Ballad for Americans") and lyrcist E. Y. "Yip" Harburg ("April in Paris," "Only a Paper Moon"). Singers on the show included two stars who had introduced Harburg classics in their 1939 films, Judy Garland ("Over the Rainbow" in Wizard of Oz) and Groucho Marx ("Lydia the Tatooed Lady" in At the Circus).

You can hear the FDR infomerical online at Vintage Radio Place. Click the Nov 5 show. Then jump ahead to the second hour.

What struck me on hearing the show was how many of the themes and issues raised in 1944 have close parallels to today's campaign.

Vote Suppression: Roosevelt charged that "Millions of soldiers and sailors and merchant seamen have been handicapped or prevented from voting by those politicians and those candidates who think that they stand to lose by such votes."

Campaign Finance: 1944 was the year of the very first PAC. It was set up by the CIO to allow individuals to make small contributions to counter large Republican donations, such as the $13 million given by Sun Oil's Joseph N. Pew Jr. ($13 million in 1944 is equivalent to $161 million today). Naturally, the Republicans denounced it.

Investment in Energy A Tennessee farmer testifies to the benefits of the TVA

The Republican Brand: Then as now, the Republican brand was in tatters. Just as Obama ties McCain to Bush (Iraq, Katrina, Financial Meltdown), the Roosevelt broadcast tied Dewey to Hoover and Harding (Depression, Prohibition, Tea Pot Dome). James Cagney, Groucho Marx, and Keenan Wynn drive the point home in a medly that included"In the Good Ol' Hoover Time" and
East side, west side
All around the town
Banks were bustin' right in your face
Stocks were tumblin down
"Prosperity 'round the corner"
Bread lines 'round the block
Don't let Dewey bring Hoover
To the Sidewalks of New York.
Socialism: Groucho reminded the audience that the red communism scare had been used again and again with "distinguished lack of success." and went on to sing, "The Old Red Scare it ain't what it used to be."

Republican support: Just as the McCain campaign prodded a stream of conservative and Republican voters to announce for Obama, the FDR broadcast featured a series of Republicans who testified that they were voting for Roosevelt. The highlight was 94-year-old Julius Oscar, who, as a child, had shaken Lincoln's hand.

Celebrity Endorsements: FDR's backers appearing on the show included a very impressive cast. (Ronald Reagan was not there, but Jane Wyman was.)
From Hollywood:
Joan Bennett
Mr. and Mrs. Irving Berlin
Humphrey Bogart
Virginia Bruce
Jimmy Cagney
Harry Carey
Claudette Colbert
Joseph Caution
Linda Darnell
John Garfield
Judy Garland
James Gleason
Paulette Goddard
Susan Hayward
Rita Hayworth
Walter Huston
Rex Ingram
George Jessel
Danny Kaye
Gene Kelly
Evelyn Keyes
Groucho Marx
Paul Muni
George Raft
Edward G. Robinson
Gale Sondergaard
Lana Turner
Richard Whorf
Monty Woolley
Jane Wyman
Keenan Wynn
plus the youngest and oldest voters
19-year-old Betty Hall and 94-year-old Julius Oscar.

From New York:
Constance Bennett
Gertrude Berg
Milton Berle
Charles Boyer
Marc Connelly
Bennett Cerf
John Dewey
Eddie Dowling
Olin Downes
Edna Ferber
John Gunther
Fannie Hurst
the Ink Spots
Dorothy Maynor
Vilhjalmur Stefansson
Alonzo Myers
Dorothy Parker
Waldo Pierce
Elmer Rice
Barney Ross
Vincent Sheean
Frank Sinatra
Paul Strand
Franchot Tone
Louis Untermeyer
Benay Venuta
Fay Wray.

From Hyde Park:
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Roosevelt's speech at the close of the broadcast was surpringly unpolitical. He didn't mention his opponent. He didn't ask for votes. He simply asked the American people to be thoughful, look forward to the peace, and create a world worthy of the sacrifice of our fighters. He ended with a prayer.

The chairman of the DNC, Paul Porter, told Corwin that he thought the broadcast produced an additional million votes.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wassup 2008: Change

Produced by 60Frames. Thanks to Wizardly and RoadkillRefugee for the tip.

Mickeleh's Take: Impressive

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ron the Director, Meet Your Fans

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Joe the Plumber, Meet Amy the Makeup Artist

I have no special insight here. Just a burning need to unload to post some snark on the news that Amy Strozzi, Gov. Palin's makeup artist, drew top dollar in the entire McCain campaign staff for drawing on the face that launched a thousand quips. I don't suppose Sen. McCain will be introducing her on the Joe the Plumber tour.

Mickeleh's Take: Amy Strozzi's other big credit is "So You Think You Can Dance." Maybe she can offer some terpsichorean tips to the McCain surrogates making the rounds of cable news today. They're going to be doing some mighty fancy tap dancing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Palin's Wardrobe: Stop Whining. Those Outfits Are Fabulous

Politico broke the story. "RNC shells out $150K for Palin fashion." And everyone piled on. Ambinder (Atlantic) said "Republicans Disgusted." Koppelman (Salon) snarked "How real Americans dress." Tayor Marsh reminds us that Cindy McCain spent twice that for a single outfit. dday called her a "Welfare Queen." Josh_Painter (Redstate) brushes it off as a bargain—the money didn't just buy outfits for the Gov, but for her whole family. Pandagon calculates that John Edwards could have had a $400 haircut every week for 7.2 years. L.A. Times calls it a "$150,000 Wardrobe Malfunction" and a "one-woman economic stimulus plan."

I say, knock it off. Back in the fifties, Nixon kept his place on the ticket by telling the TV audience that his wife, "doesn't have a mink coat. But she does have a respectable Republican cloth coat, and I always tell her she'd look good in anything."

But TV was black and white back then. And generally fuzzy. Today, we're in a world of color and HD. I say, let Palin dress for success.

Here's the most delicious irony of it all. The official McCain response to the flap:
With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it's remarkable that we're spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses. It was always the intent that the clothing go to a charitable purpose after the campaign."
—Tracey Schmitt, McCain spokesperson.
Aren't these the folks who said “If we keep talking about the economic crisis, we’re going to lose”? Now that they want to talk about the economy, they're stuck with the visual dissonance of a hockey mom in couturier fashion. Oops.

Mickeleh's Take: Back in burlesque, they used the phrase "talking woman" to mean a female who could actually deliver lines in a sketch. Talking women were rare in the genre. Most women in burlesque were hired strictly for their looks. Palin may have started out at the Republican Convention with great reviews as a talking woman, but lately the more she says, the less voters think of her. Yesterday's polls say she's an even bigger drag on McCain than Bush. So Palin's a washout as a talking woman. Still, the outfits are fabulous. She wears them well. Don't begrudge.