Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Political pops

*I'm told Congressman Hinchey was in our building today. Best I can tell, there were no injuries.

*Very few warm and fuzzies in many of the political endorsements I've read so far. Lots of "lesser of two evils" kind of acknowledgements.

*I guess I'll never quite figure out why candidates believe lawn signs are effective.

*I watch little cable TV (I have a satellite dish) and rarely listen to local radio, so I don't know how much time is being purchased for political commercials. But my mailbox is overflowing from slick, large, glossy post cards from a variety of campaign hopefuls. More effective than lawn signs? Yes. Effective, period? Not if they immediately wind up with the other unsolicited advertisements that quickly find their way into the trash.

*There's a Tea Party guy who continually comments negatively on our website about the Freeman's coverage and/or editorials. That's fine; we solicit comments from all comers. This particular critic, however, also repeatedly claims our newspaper is "irrelevant." OK, if he says so. But it does beg the question, why is he wasting so much time reading and commenting on something "irrelevant"?

Friday, October 22, 2010


*If you follow this blog, you know how much I've enjoyed Leon Russell's music since the first time I saw and heard him in 1970 when he fronted the "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" band for Joe Cocker when its tour stopped at SUNY New Paltz. As the kids used to say, I have most of his albums. And I've seen him in concert a handful of times, including one of his two visits to Bearsville and last summer in Red Hook. But Russell has been an acquired taste over the last several decades, despite his many admirers within the music industry, largely because he has generally chosen to stay out of the limelight, playing small venues and making his music a secret except for his most ardent followers. Until now. Thanks to Elton John, who reached out to his old mentor after a 40-year disconnect, Russell is all over the press and on TV these days. John and Russell have just issued a favorably reviewed "The Union" CD and played it in its entirely the other night at a cable-televised (Fuse) live concert in front of an adoring audience at New York City's Beacon Theater. John and Russell also guested and played on ABC's "Good Morning America" and "The View" and a tour has been launched. As for those of us who've remained on the Leon Russell bandwagon all these years, it's nice to know we no longer have to answer the question, "Leon, who?"

*In New Haven the other night, I sampled a local favorite - mashed potato pizza - at an in spot called The Bar. Sorry to say I didn't get across the street to Louis' Lunch. Legend has it that Louis' is where the hamburger was born. (As for the mashed potato pizza, let's just say I prefer a more conventional pie, with, say, sausage and mushrooms.)

*What was NPR chief Vivian Schiller thinking when she canned commentator Juan Williams for what he said about Muslims on Fox News? Williams thinks she was looking for an excuse to get rid of him because he does appear on Fox News. If so, this wasn't it. Williams said he gets nervous when he sees a Muslim on an airplane. He wasn't being bombastic, as are others on Fox News; he was just expressing a feeling that, sadly, many have shared since 9/11. Point is, it was part of a broader discussion with Bill O'Reilly and another conservative analyst in which Williams (one of Fox News' house liberals) was being the voice of reason. NPR and Schiller come off far worse in this brouhaha than does Williams.

*You suppose tonight's Yankees game will be completed in under four hours?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

On the right

According to a New York Times column today by Peter Applebome about the demise of a couple of weekly newspapers in Ulster County, the Freeman has "historically tilted right..."

I suspect Applebome didn't consult with the many web posters who routinely describe our newspaper as a "liberal rag."

For the record, I'd like to think we're closer to the middle.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Campaign '10

*Most effective "positive" campaign commercial: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand promising not to vote for her own pay hike.

*Most effective "negative" campaign commercial(s): U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon of Connecticut letting challenger Richard Blumental speak for himself by using clips of his lying about serving in Vietnam and fumbling his way through a question about how he'd create jobs.

*Most uncomfortable campaign debate moments: California gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman and Jerry Brown trying to explain her employment of an illegal immigrant and someone on his staff's use of the word "whore." (There's still enough time before Election Day for other debates to trump this one ... starting with Monday's faceoff in New York between Andrew Cuomo and Carl Paladino (and several minor party candidates).

*Speaking of Paladino, judging from the video clip on our website (admittedly a tiny sample) of his visit to Kingston Tuesday, I didn't sense a whole lot of passion for or against him. Seemed like supporters and protesters were going through the motions.

*I'm not privy to internal polling, but isn't it safe to presume that if Congressman Maurice Hinchey and the Democratic Party didn't have concerns about his ability to handily win re-election, former President Bill Clinton wouldn't have been recruited to speak on his behalf at a Binghamton rally?

*I know lawn signs are part of our nation's grand political traditions, but they're little more than blights on the landscape, as far as I'm concerned. (By the way, I notice a variety of businesses and non-profits using lawn signs nowadays. Shouldn't there be ordinances against these eyesores?)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

From the notebook

*It's a minority view, I know, but for my money, the Ryder Cup golf event is nothing more than a manufactured-for-TV excuse to wave the flag. Jingoism, pure and simple. The sight of golfers egging on fans and the sound of galleries cheering when someone misses a putt merely brings to golf some of what's bad about other sports.

*It's also a minority view, I know, but I think winning a divisional title in baseball is a better measurement of a team's worth than winning a short series in the playoffs. If you have the best record after 162 games, you're the best team. As for playoff series and the World Series, anything can happen. Heck, a last place team is capable of beating a first-place team three-out-five or four-out-of-seven. In other words, the best team doesn't always win.

*Those who think the press has been giving Andrew Cuomo's well-known temper a pass as it dissects Angry Carl Paladino have short memories. Cuomo's temperament has been well-documented over the years. (How do you suppose those critical of him know about it?) The thing is, next to Angry Carl, Cuomo is a choir boy. And Cuomo has been able to demonstrate the ability to govern, temper and all. Not so Paladino. We saw what happened when Eliot Spitzer tried to bully Albany. It would be worse with Paladino.

*You don't think the "social media" network is where it's at? Then you haven't seen the way programs like TweetDeck and Twitterific light up like Christmas trees when a big story breaks and those you "follow" on Twitter start informing and/or commenting. Take last night, for instance, when rapid-fire "tweets" about Doc Halliday's no-hitter nearly made my IPad go tilt just seconds after the last out.

*I've mentioned in the past that my son writes for the Fox animated TV series "American Dad". The show marked its 100th episode last Sunday, which means there are enough episodes for syndication. So there are the repeats now showing on TBS and Channel 11, among other outlets, including today's episode, which features an automotive dealership called "Fusfeld Motors". Let the record show it's named after my son, not me.

In the sandbox

Fred Dicker of the New York Post wasn't the only journalist to get into a dust-up with GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino. Bill Hammond of the New York Daily News also has suffered verbal blows from Angry Carl. This led Hammond, one of my favorites in Albany, to pen the following:

"Well, here's some more criticism he (Paladino) won't like: He's running the ugliest, most negative campaign in modern New York history. And he's acting like a wimp.

"I've called Gov. Paterson the 'bungler in chief' and a 'serial fabricator.'

"I referred to (Andrew) Cuomo in 2006 as an 'arrogant, headline-grabbing, pushy egomaniac.'

"I once called Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver the 'poster boy for Albany dysfunction.'

"None of them much liked it, I'm sure. But they recognized that absorbing pointed criticism goes with the territory. They took it like grownups. Imagine that."

Imagine that, indeed. Come to think of it, we could use some more grownups among local politicians who have come under the gun,too. They know who they are.