I need inspiration

by Categorized: Uncategorized Date:

Inspiration is the theme of this Sunday’s NYT mag (although some of the people in same mag  don’t seem, really, to be talking about inspiration.)

What I have to do this weekend:

A. Work on my little part of the script for “Night Fall.” (I think “Night Fall” is going to  be pretty special. You should all make plans to see it, Oct. 13.)

B. Geek out about Nathan Englander.  I will converse with him onstage Wednesday at Renbrook School.

C. Prepare for The Son’s 23rd birthday.

D. Get ready for my class Monday night. The theme will be Fairness and Balance.

E. Watch the Packers v. Saints.

That’s a lot, right?

But from the NYT mag, I know that other art can inspire me. So, Ms. Spalding?



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11 thoughts on “I need inspiration

  1. cttom500

    My wife and I have followed your efforts for years. Due to medical conditions we were unable to take your course. Please write a column about the course findings and what the students are feeling in their own words….McMahon/Murphy??? National stuff?? How about bringing the students on NPR??? Maybe after the election.

    Any anecdotes about the amazing Joey, which do not compromise his life, we love to hear. He’s a part of our life too. If you started a Joey Education Continuation Fund, count us in!!!!

  2. ried to my Favorite Secular Jew

    Talk food with Englander. The food speaks volumes. And then, if it works, give me some gd credit, please. Thanks. May no harm (evil eye) come toward you. Or gelfilte fish, similarly scary.

  3. Married to my Favorite Secular Jew

    Also for Englander: the annual holiday ritual of atonement/apology. Who is really brave enought to do that in earnest? Anyone? Is there a secret hope that the other party has an apology/olive branch as well so that each keeps his pride? (Channeling Larry David here.)

  4. Married to my Favorite Secular Jew

    Can’t you just see Larry David trying to broker some kind of Yom Kippur deal with say, Marty Funkhouser, so that they apologize simultaneously? Of course, Larry gets stiffed.

  5. Ed Lasky

    Only this First “Lady” could call voters “knuckeheads” and not have it hurt Dear Leader. When will the media finally step up and expose this Hope and Change fraud?

    I ridiculed the string of fluff television, radio, and magazine appearances that Barack Obama has been making the last few months. They are wrong. He has a strategy and is executing it well. He is seeking and winning the votes of those Michelle Obama calls knuckleheads.

    Inside-the-Beltway journalists have decried Barack Obama’s refusal to hold many press conferences. His canned speeches and reliance on the teleprompter have provided them with precious few chances to score points among their colleagues for gotcha questions.

    Ah…just kidding.

    Most journalists would rather attack Mitt Romney like a pack of hyenas than ask the president any questions that may discomfort him. Instead, Barack Obama sends out his hapless Press Secretary Jay Carney to field questions — or people like Susan Rice to evade truthful answers regarding the murders of Americans in Libya, the march of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Arab Spring going up in flames (along with American flags and embassies). That is what they are paid to do: make excuses, fabricate answers or curse those seeking answers, fall on the sword if need be. They will still keep their lives and their jobs.

    Barack Obama would rather nurture his bromance with David Letterman, who has had the president and the first lady on his show numerous times. Letterman gets a big ratings boost; the Obama campaign gets free airtime in front of an audience in millions. That is certainly worth millions of dollars — or at least a Kennedy Center honor.

    Or perhaps, Barack Obama prefers chatting about his pepper preferences and favorite superpowers with a New Mexico talk show host to explaining how his administration screwed up security in Libya so that those bumps in the road (otherwise known as the murders of Americans) happened. Contemplating fantasy abilities must be far more enjoyable than revealing the true history of the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal — a topic that might be of interest to citizens of a border state.

    And of course, talking about rappers Pitbull and Flo Rida with a Florida DJ known as the “Pimp with the Limp” certainly beats talking with congressional leaders from both parties about avoiding the coming fiscal cliff and Taxmageddon that could lead to yet more economic weakness and job losses in a few months. Many journalists, including most recently Bob Woodward, have reported that Barack Obama is a loner who has held barely any meetings with key leaders in Congress, his Jobs Council, his Cabinet, his Daily Intelligence Briefers, the Erskine-Bowles Commission — the club of people stiffed by the president has an ever-growing membership. Even the liberal Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus has criticized Obama’s pattern of unexcused absences when important issues need to be addressed (see her column “Obama’s ‘Where’s Waldo?’ Presidency”). In 2008, the paucity of Obama’s record and his reliance on airy platitudes (Hope, Change, Yes We Can, We Are The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For, and other juvenilia) instead of solid proposals combined with his lack of a record, led some to characterized him as the “Being There” candidate, after the vacuous character played by Peter Sellers in the movie of that name. Now he is the “Not Being There” president.

    Meeting with foreign leaders during the annual confab at the United Nations was never on the calendar — crowded out by an appearance on The View, where he touted his status as “eye candy.” Why meet with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu when he could be charmed by Whoopi Goldberg and whoop it up with that wiz Joy Behar?

    What is up with the abdication of responsibility on the part of the president? Is it all a function of his lack of a work ethic, his addiction to golf, his preference for having fun with NBA basketball players, his enjoyment from being serenaded by a parade of singers in the East Room? After all, he did say “we never need an excuse for a good party” at the White House.

    Can he bully or stonewall queries from local reporters, or will they be so overawed by their chance to talk with a president that they will not mar the experience with serious questions? Are reporters and talking heads from Entertainment Tonight, People Magazine, or Vogue even interested in asking serious questions about the parlous state of our nation and the history of mistakes made by the president? At least the Univision journalists who grilled him over his broken promises over immigration and the Fast and the Furious scandal proved their mettle. But serious questioning of this president is an astronomically rare occurrence. There won’t be any White House invitations for those who trespass; at least he spared the Univision hosts a tirade such as the one he delivered to one Texas interviewer who offended him.

    All of the above are possibilities, but a recent study may reveal an ulterior motive. Obama is trolling for the votes of people Michelle Obama derided a few months ago as “knuckleheads” — people who may not yet be registered, who don’t really follow politics, who are confused by the issues, don’t follow the news, and are not motivated to vote.

    Ah…electoral gold.

    Joshua Green delved “Inside the Minds of Undecided Voters” in Business Week. He noted that a portion of them are following politics and the candidates but just have not settled on one. But then there are the others — the couch potatoes:

    The other group of undecided voters, those who haven’t tuned in yet, will draw on an even thinner grasp of politics. They tend not to follow current events and thus don’t respond to the normal methods of persuasion. Brabender calls them “unknowings” and says they can’t be reached by advertising on Fox News or MSNBC. “If you’re watching Fox, you already know who you’re voting for,” he says. This group tends to be younger, concentrated in rural and suburban areas, and more apt to watch prime-time network TV than news shows, which means its members are more expensive to reach through ads.

    Advances in data mining have helped media strategists understand the habits and preferences of undecideds with uncanny specificity. According to research shared with Bloomberg Businessweek by National Media Research, Planning & Placement, which buys TV ads for campaigns, high-turnout swing voters tend to drive Saabs, drink Caffeine-Free Diet Pepsi and Corona Light, listen to adult contemporary music, and watch Turner Classic Movies and The Office.

    They also have a special fondness for reality TV. “In 2010 the research pointed to reality and talent competition programs and shows such as Dancing with the Stars and Pawn Stars,” says Will Feltus, the company’s senior vice president. “Comedies are also good for reaching swing voters. Big Bang Theory and Two and a Half Men work well.”

    Combined, these undecided voters represent somewhere between 2 percent and 8 percent of the vote and are hard to reach. Yet the campaigns will certainly feel compelled to try.

    And so Obama has been trying to reach them.

    For years, there has been a cliché that undecided voters break for the challenger. Obama may be breaking this paradigm. This time they may be shifting to Obama.

    His repeated appearances on comedy shows, daytime talk shows (No Dick Cavett here; No Firing Line), and his joshing with local DJs such as The Pimp with the Limp are efforts to reach these potential voters.

    Obama certainly enjoys an advantage here: it is hard to fathom a man as serious and contemplative as Mitt Romney — a man who is more focused on facing our problems rather than babbling pabulum (without the nutrition) — riding the carnival circuit.

    Obama has no problem on the carnival circuit. He is a star there, the world’s biggest celebrity, as the McCain camp presciently recognized in one of their few smart tactics during the 2008 campaign.

    This Obama campaign strategy has been clear for some time.

    Has there ever been a politician whose campaign is so focused on the euphemistically termed “low-information voter”? Consider the following signs:

    •The reliance on visual imagery (the poster, the American flag defaced with the Obama campaign image decal, the faux Roman columns, the trinkets for sale on the campaign website — a gallery dedicated to the image of Obama and not the image of America).
    •The steady stream of tweets and text messages sent to supporters — limited in length so as to not tax their attention spans. Obama’s one-woman Praetorian guard and chief adviser, Valerie Jarrett, has said that Barack Obama has to talk in simpler ways to Americans, exhibiting the condescension and disdain at the heart of this presidency.
    •The meet-ups of 2008 are not so prevalent now, as his youthful supporters struggle to pay for gas or look for jobs.
    •The key role played by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes in building up the Obama campaign social outreach — the jokes to entertain them.
    •The beer-drinking.
    •The bracketology of the NCAA tournaments.
    •And the drivel.
    The internet has overtaken newspapers as a source of news; hence the Obama emphasis on reaching people via the internet, where micro-focused messages can be tailor-made to appeal to an individual potential voter. The danger behind such narrowcasting is that the information delivered can be akin more to propaganda than to facts. Obama supporters all too often would rather gaze, graze, or glance than read, think, and ponder.

    How nice it is not to face reality. Ignorance is bliss. That should be the campaign slogan for the Obama campaign, for it has been his modus operandi as president.

    Barack Obama’s appearances on lowbrow outlets geared to “low-information voters” (or, as Michelle Obama would say, “knuckleheads”) has capitalized on one edge that Barack Obama has always had over Mitt Romney: “likeability.” Of course, Obama’s likeability is merely a result of the media shielding the public from the many derogatory remarks he has made about Americans.

    Do many of his voters venture much beyond American Idol, The View, Entertainment Tonight, and the La-La Land that embraces Obama? Perhaps not, given the surveys that show that Democrats are blind to bad economic news.

    If people prefer to live in a bubble and avert their eyes from real news (preferring fake news peddled by Obama-supporter Jon Stewart on his Comedy Central Daily Show) and just vote for the guy with the grin, then perhaps Obama’s high poll numbers are understandable. Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Jessup in A Few Good Men declared that some people don’t want the truth; they can’t handle the truth. How true. How sad. How useful these people are to Barack Obama.

    The undecided voters have become fodder to be plumbed for humor — as in this cartoon, and skewered by no less than Saturday Night Live.

    However, there is nothing humorous about the future of many hardworking Americans being determined by people who star in videos such as these by Alexandra Pelosi (the daughter of Nancy) and Howard Stern!

    Nor is there anything funny about there being are a lot of “low-information voters” out there; our teachers; unions, media, and Hollywood are creating them in the millions.

    Is it any wonder that that they usually vote for Democrats?

  6. Gerald Santovsky

    For Cynical-one pen named author…to another!

    If you haven’t noticed, the election is slipping away from Mitt. Given the numbers out there — unemployment, deficit, gas prices, and poverty — that is amazing. Simply stated, if a Republican can’t win this election, he or she can’t win any presidential election. Although it’s probably too late, if Mitt has any chance to win, he needs to say or do these 10 simple things during the debates.

    1. A Tagline

    Every (winning) campaign needs a good tagline (whether official or informal). For Reagan, it was “where’s the beef?” For Clinton it was “it’s the economy, stupid.” Here perhaps this works: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” It’s not only catchy and well-known, but it also sends a strong psychological message: namely, we — the voters — won’t be duped again. Nobody likes to be suckered or feel dumb, and this tagline reinforces to people that they have been duped by Obama’s first term and won’t be duped again. Another tagline might be “It’s President Obama’s track record, stupid.”

    2. Dumb Down the Deficit (and Make It Real)

    Say something like this. “When it comes to the budget, the president throws around large numbers to confuse us all. Just last year the deficit grew another two trillion dollars, and our national debt is now over $16 trillion. That’s more than $50,000 for every American, more than $200,000 for a family of four. Those numbers are real. The president has effectively saddled every American with a $200,000 mortgage. Now he will blame George W. Bush and his predecessors, but if he’s re-elected, the deficit will grow to well over $20 trillion in the next four years and likely closer to $25 trillion.

    “Since talking about trillions is hard to comprehend, let’s put this in simple terms. If you take away 8 zeros from the budget and deficit numbers and put them in terms of a typical American family’s budget, here is what it would like:

    •Family’s Annual Income: $21,700
    •Money the family spent: $38,200
    •New debt on the family credit card: $16,500
    •Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
    •Total proposed budget cuts: $385
    “So under the president, we are spending almost twice as much as we earn, running up the credit card, and when we sit around the table to discuss budget cuts, all we can come up with is $385! That’s his plan to balance the budget?! If re-elected, the president will do in eight short years what 42 other presidents couldn’t do in over 200 years: triple the deficit and bankrupt us. The American people are on notice and won’t allow it. I won’t allow it if elected president. It must stop. Now.”

    3. Use a Prop (Yes, a Prop)

    When the subject of ObamaCare comes up, it is likely that either the president or the moderator will say something like this: “Well, I don’t know how Governor Romney can criticize ObamaCare when we modeled our plan on his Massachusetts plan.” In response, Mitt should pull out the ObamaCare bill – all 2,074 pages of it — and throw it on the podium (or wave it around). Next, he pulls out his Massachusetts plan, which is just 70 pages, and places it next to Obama’s bill and says: “Really, Mr. President — you say with a straight face that this [holding Obama’s 2,074 pages] is the same as this [holding his 70-page bill]? I don’t think so, and the American people know better.”

    If he wants, Romney can then use this as a stepping stone to specifics — e.g., “Moreover, we passed Romneycare in Massachusetts only after balancing the budget; you’ve come nowhere close to balancing the budget. We raised no new taxes to pay for it in Massachusetts; in contrast, the cost of ObamaCare is so large as to be unknown. We also passed Romneycare with broad bipartisan support — because I know how to work with the other side of the aisle — while you had no bipartisan support and stuffed the bill down America’s throat with midnight roll calls. So, Mr. President, don’t dupe the American people by saying your bill [holding it up] is the same as this [holding up his 70 pages]. It isn’t, and you know it. Don’t insult the American people.”

    4. Stick with the Numbers

    Mitt says: “Whatever statistic you use to judge the economy, they are all worse than when the president started. Unemployment is up, way up, and it’s even higher than the reported number because so many Americans have simply given up under President Obama. Think about that: they’ve given up. Given up hope. Gas prices are up. The deficit is up. Way up. Over $16 trillion. Everything is up. Even poverty — yes, poverty — is approaching a 50-year high under President Obama. The only thing that has gone down the past four years is the president’s golf score. He has played more golf than any other president. So at least one statistic has gone down these past four years.”

    5. Attack “Hope” and “Change” and “Vision”

    Mitt says: “In 2008 — and still today — the president talks elegantly about ‘hope’ and ‘change’ and ‘vision’ — all big, nice, flowery words to make us feel better. But guess what: this isn’t an Oprah show. We haven’t done any better as a country the past four years. This election isn’t about intentions; it’s about — or should be about — results. Listen: the ‘hope’ and ‘change’ I plan to bring to this country — to all 100% of Americans — is a better economy. In a word, it’s about jobs. The ‘hope’ and ‘change’ I will offer the black child, the Latino child, and all children in our country is to put their mommies and daddies back to work. That is hope and change they can believe in. That is the role model I plan to be as your next president.”

    6. Compare Track Records

    “Rather than discuss his own track record — his doubling the deficit in just four years — the president deflects by trying to focus on my track record. I welcome that. As the Governor of Massachusetts, I balanced the budget every year. I was a Republican in a very Democratic state, but I figured out how to work with all my Democratic colleagues in the house and senate in Massachusetts. I grew our economy. Our president hasn’t done any of those things. And before becoming a politician, I actually ran something. Successfully. I took over and led the 2002 Olympics, which were a complete success. I ran businesses. And yes, Mr. President, in doing so, I sometimes had to make cuts for the greater good. Yes, I had to make hard choices. Yes, I had to prioritize. Yes, I even had to say ‘no’ sometimes, and I could not give all the people what they wanted all the time. It’s like a doctor cutting out a cancer to save the healthy cells. Where I come from, that’s called ‘leadership.’ Yet you have cut little, if anything, in four years. Instead, you have ballooned our spending. Enough. It’s time to turn in the country’s credit card.”

    7. Kill Obama with Kindness

    Whether in public or during the debates, be the cool voice of reason, which here means something like: “Let me be clear. President Obama is not a zealot or a socialist or some evil figure as some try to make him about to be. Just as I am not a caricature, neither is he. He is a good, well-intentioned man, but also misguided. I want to be your president not because I dislike President Obama, but rather because I dislike his policies, which four years of evidence now show has killed our economy, our jobs, and perhaps most important, our morale and resolve as a country. Vote for me not because you dislike President Obama, but rather vote for me becaue you dislike his policies and record, and better yet, because you like my vision and track record of results.”

    8. Tax Returns & Obama’s School Records

    If the president (or moderator) chides or challenges Mitt on not releasing his tax returns, Mitt should say: “For our president to talk about the release of personal records reflects hypocrisy at its worst. This coming from the president who has released fewer records than any modern American president. This from a president who still refuses to release his school records. Every other president has done so, so why won’t you, Mr. President? What are you hiding?

    9. The 47% Problem

    Almost certainly this will come up. Mitt needs to spin it as a positive: “Listen: the president has tried to make much hay out of the comments. All I was saying — perhaps inartfully — is that when 47% of the country pays no income taxes — many because they have no jobs — that’s a problem for all 100% of Americans. I am a Republican, but guess what: let me say this clearly: we need more than just 53% of Americans to pay federal income tax every April 15. If not, then all 100% of us are in trouble.”

    10. Some other things Mitt should say, somehow, some way

    •”The president has no real plan. It’s smoke and mirrors, and he’s trying to ham-and-egg things to get over the November 6 finish line.”
    •”Talk is cheap. Trillion-dollar deficits aren’t.”
    •”Look at the numbers — unemployment, gas, the deficits. They don’t lie.”
    •”On June 14, at a community college in Cleveland, the president said that in this election, voters will ‘render a verdict on the debate over how to grow the economy, how to create good jobs, how to pay down our deficit.’ He’s done none of that. He’s made each of those things worse. I agree with the president: the election should be about the economy, and if it is, he should join the ranks of the unemployed.”
    •”And guess what — where I come from, whom you keep company with actually matters. If you buddy up with draft-dodgers and domestic terrorists and sit in a church pew that spews hate for 20 years, that means something.”
    If these items seem obvious, guess what: that’s the point. If you like theory, there are two related themes in play here: jujitsu and KISS. Jujitsu, as you likely know, is a martial art that essentially uses your opponent’s strength against him. A concrete example here is turning Obama’s hipness and cool rhetoric against him. The other concept is KISS, which of course stands for “Keep It Simple, Stupid.” Remember Clinton winning in 1992 with the simple mantra “It’s the economy, stupid.” Applied here, the mantra should be, “It’s President Obama’s track record, stupid.”

    Gerald Santovsky is the pen name of a writer in flyover country.

  7. Married to my Favorite Secular Jew

    Sheesh. Attention spans are short around here, and I feel ignored. Going to watch some Larry David.

    1. Cynical Susan

      Nah, people are just ticked off by the constant posting of screeds by someone who already loads up his FaceBook page with them, but who just wants to share with us all.

  8. Todd Zaino

    Obama looked like a guy who knows he’s going to be playing a lot more basketball, and golf in four or so months. Moochelle can continue to police the nation’s eating habits…now as the former first lady. Last night Obama even had Micheal Moore, Bill Maher, and Chris “Tingle Up My Leg” Matthews taking shots at him!

    It’s all O-V-E-R!

    Our media, and Team Obama have been exposed. Does anyone know of a good moving company?

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