William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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MONDAY,  JANUARY 28,  2008


   The expected endorsement of Barack Obama today, by Ted Kennedy, may require changes in your schedule.  We understand that all airliners will be required to land before the endorsement so that passengers may gather at TV screens in terminals to watch the moment.  All surgeries have been cancelled.  Some schools are open, some are closed.  Houses of worship will keep their doors open for those who wish to contemplate history.  There will be no mail delivery.  But when is there ever? 

You know, I was thinking about the moment that Kennedy called Obama to tell him the good news.  As I understand it from informed sources, it went like this:

KENNEDY:  Barack, m'man, this is Ted.

OBAMA:  Oh, hello Ted.  About that pizza order...

KENNEDY:  No, no Barack.  It's Ted Kennedy, US Senate.

OBAMA:  Oh, sure, hi Ted.

KENNEDY:  Barack, have I got news for you.  I'm endorsing you for president. 

OBAMA:  You're...

KENNEDY:  I know it's an emotional moment.  Just think of it, Barack.  From now on your name will be linked with the name Ted Kennedy.  A Kennedy.  You're anointed, m'man. 

OBAMA:  Right, well, gee Ted, uh, thanks.

KENNEDY:  It's okay.  After all your suffering, it's the least I could do.  And we won't have a girl in the White House. 

OBAMA:  No, I...I guess not.  Well, I don't know what to say.

KENNEDY:   I know how you feel, soul.  Now I'll give you the topping on the cake.  I'm going out to campaign for you.

OBAMA:  Oh, uh, wow.

KENNEDY:  We'll have all those pictures together, you and me, right through the election.  Everyone will see you with a Kennedy.

OBAMA:  Sure, that's certainly true.

KENNEDY:  Okay, Barack, I have to pack.  I'm flying out, kid.  This is gonna be fun.  Go tell Michelle.

OBAMA:  Sure, well, bye Ted.

KENNEDY:  High five, my friend.  (click)

OBAMA:  Michelle, Michelle!  We're done.  Clinton got Kennedy to endorse me.


   And there are other things that aren't quite real.  The good people of Brattleboro, Vermont,  will vote on whether to arrest President Bush and Vice President Cheney should they visit the town.  The charges would be war crimes, perjury, and obstruction of justice.  There is no indication that the president or vice president are worried, nor apparently have they any plans to visit the sights and sounds of Brattleboro.  Vermont is the only state Bush hasn't visited since taking office.  The guy pushing the vote thinks he's got great support:

"Everybody I talked to wanted Bush to go," he said, noting that even members of the local police department supported the drive.

I want to meet those cops.  I really want to meet them.  I want to see them confront an armed criminal and say, "We're members of the Brattleboro no-one-is-illegal force.  We do understand your socio-economic issues..."


   I don't want to harp on the New England thing, but there's one more gem I must report.  I'll give it to you straight from the story:

MONTPELIER - A Stowe filmmaker who followed Howard Dean during his campaign for the presidency in 2004 and witnessed the sudden fall of the former Vermont governor is finishing up a documentary about the experience.

Heath Eiden hopes an early showing of his film, "Dean and Me: Roadshow of an American Primary," helps him find a distributor for the 90-minute movie.

Timing, Mr. Eiden.  Timing.


   The increasing ugliness of the Democratic nomination fight may well give Republicans an opening in a year when they didn't expect it, says analyst Stuart Rothenberg, of Roll Call.  In a well-written piece he points out the damage the fight is doing, and its potential:

The Clinton versus Obama contest already has divided the party’s traditional coalition along demographic lines. And that probably now guarantees that a sizable part of the Democratic Party will be unhappy with the eventual nominee and will believe that the nominee used unfair tactics to win the nomination.

There's also the possibility of a brokered convention, where the bitterness can boil over into walkouts and threats to stay home on election day.  Oh goody.


    Have you ever wanted to earn the coveted title, "Doctor of Fries"?  Apparently, you now can.  McDonald's, in Britain, will offer diplomas to its employees through its training programs.  Other companies will as well, with some offering the equivalent of Ph.D's.  The reason:

The diplomas form part of a Government drive to increase the pool of trained workers amid concerns raised by business leaders that schools, colleges and even universities are not doing enough to equip youngsters for the world of work. 

There are concerns that the diplomas the degrees may not have much value outside the company that gives them.  The graduate schools of Oxford may not look kindly on a diploma signed by Ronald McDonald.  But the indictment of colleges and universities rings true.

Come to think of it, if a company can provide a decent level of education at less than $42,000 a year, parents may start asking some serious questions of the old names that currently dominate higher education.  And McDonald's has a great meal plan.


    Benny Avni, of The NewYork Sun, reports on how several presidential candidates tried to influence the UN Security Council's possible resolution dealing with Gaza violence.  Barack Obama expressed concern for the Gazan population, but also showed understanding of Israeli actions.  John McCain took a much harder line.  Avni seems to bemoan the softening of American attitudes at the UN, but points out that it probably won't make any difference.  Even a compromise resolution showing support for Gazans but also condemning rocket attacks on Israel apparently won't pass muster with Arab delegates and may just die.  What to do about the helpless UN?  Avni notes one idea:

My favorite position is that of Mr. McCain, who vowed to create an organization of "like-minded nations working together for peace and liberty" in the mold of Theodore Roosevelt, rather than Woodrow Wilson. But, he added in Foreign Affairs, "This League of Democracies would not supplant the U.N. or other international organizations but complement them." Competition. Now there is an idea whose time has come. 

It sure has.  McCain's new group competes with the UN.  McDonald's competes with Harvard.  You know, maybe we're making progress.

Posted on January 28, 2008.