Thursday, October 23, 2008

Pod & Kissinger

OK - so I know that economy sucks so why was Pod- a not inexpensive restaurant- packed on a Wednesday evening at 5:30. Is Penn wildly overpaying it's employees or was everyone there going to see Kissinger like I was?
My D kindly invited me to a symposium on how the future president would handle/effect international relations. Isn't she the greatest?
Lots of introductions by Penn president Amy Gutman, who either has wonderful hair or the worlds best blow dry, Mayor nutter, etc but the main discussion participants were Henry Kissinger and Robert Rubin , Secy of the Treasury under Bill Clinton. It was moderated by Frank Sesno, formerly of CNN. The 3 of them just sat on chairs in front of the audience and talked.
First I was surprised how thrilled I was to see Kissinger in person; kind of like that rush when you spot a famous person in a restaurant. I've watched him on TV for so many years and his voice, mannerisms, physical appearance was exactly the same. Best of all was how wonderful it was to see three incredibly intelligent and informed men sit around talking with nothing to prove. None of them are running for office and are all so accomplished that they are way beyond the point where they worry what people think of them. Of course they were insightful and fascinating bu they were also witty,funny, irrelevant and flippant. I felt like I was listening in on a great dinner conversation.
No matter how you feel about the effect he has had on our nations foreign policy Kissinger is definitely the linguistic master.
A few of the best lines...

It is essential for the new President to prioritize but unfortunately in Washington the urgent often drives out the important.

We need to start a conversation with the world's leaders in which we come not with the solution but with the question.
When asked if we should be negotiating with Iran he said that diplomacy isn't theology; someone doesn't have to be morally fit to be in the same negotiating room as us.
They both agreed that the world's opinion of us can not be fixed unless our financial state is in order and most hopefully agreed that tremendous problems = tremendous opportunities.
All in all, a fascinating evening.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

While I've always been obsessed with politics I never actually volunteered for a campaign before this one. Even thought I can only go for a few hours a week it's still very exciting and very interesting to see it all from the 'inside'.
Things I've learned:
1. There never seems to be enough buttons, lawn signs or bumper stickers to meet the demand. Although there's always "an order due in any day now" it never seems to be enough. I guess this demand is a good thing unless your the person who has to say no to the person insisting they need 30 buttons.
2. The rise in polls causes as much, or more, agita than joy for the folks in charge of the local offices. They fear, and rightly so, that volunteers and voters can get complacent and feel that they don't have to bother to vote. In this election where people could easily be lying to pollsters for all kinds of ugly reasons and in a must win state like Pa this could be a disaster.
3. Although it feels great to be doing even the little I am to help it's amazing to see how much time and energy people are willing to give. The paid staff works 7 days a week, a million hours a day and lives on whatever food people are kind enough to drop off. I was amazed by the numbers of people who drive 2 -3 hours down from other states to make phone calls and canvas. Each weekend we get a ton of New Yorkers who feel that Pa needs their help more than New York.
4. The people at McCain rallies really are angry. One of the staff went to the rally at Montco last week to hand out Obama literature and just to watch. He said he was curious if the 'angry mob' reports on TV were over stated. He said the anger directed personally at him was scary. People screamed at him to get a job, told him he was against the troops and really did shout out horrible things about Obama. He said he had never seen such a large crowd of incredibly angry people. I think it's great for people to be enthusiastic for their candidate ( even if it's not mine) but to direct such hatred toward the other guy ( or his staffer) is frightening. I think these people are angry about the economy and perhaps not living in a world where America is admired as a force of good. The McCain camp , intentionally or not, has directed that anger toward Obama as a person. While John Lewis may have been out of line calling McCain a racist the anger at these rallies reminds me of the way the white supremacists take the anger people feel about being out of work or in hard times and very effectively direct it against blacks and Jews.

working for your husband

Bad things about working for your husband

1. the pay sucks

2. he wants to spend all weekend talking about work related stuff

3. you can't complain to your co-workers about what a jerk your boss is

4. you can't call in sick when your just feeling lazy

5. it's impossible to quit

Good things about working for your husband

1. It saves the office a lot of money

2. you always have stuff to talk about

3. your boss can't complain when you talk to your (his) kids at work

4. your boss doesn't complain when you really are sick

5. it's impossible to get fired