Saturday, September 27, 2008


Just watched the amazing end to the Phillies game this afternoon where they clinched the NL East by defeating the Washington Nationals 4-3!

Kissinger Pt.2

The Kissinger comments Obama was referencing (almost certainly) came from a CNN forum where 5 former Secretaries of State came together to discuss what advice they would give to the next President. Among other things they discussed Iran, and here's a snippet of what I found on CNN's website:

"The former secretaries of state also focused their attention on talks with Iran. The Bush administration joined the other members of the U.N. Security Council -- Britain, France, China and Russia, along with Germany -- in offering Iran a set of political and economic incentives similar to the ones North Korea was given in exchange for suspending its uranium enrichment program.

But the United States has refused to sit down with Iran until that suspension takes place.

'When I was in office, we had a standing policy with the Iranians. We were ready to talk to them, provided it would be done at an official level, at the level of the secretary of state, and they did -- they wouldn't -- they didn't have enough domestic political support for that,' Baker said.

Kissinger added: 'Well, I am in favor of negotiating with Iran. And one utility of negotiation is to put before Iran our vision of a Middle East, of a stable Middle East, and our notion on nuclear proliferation at a high enough level so that they have to study it. And, therefore, I actually have preferred doing it at the secretary of state level so that we -- we know we're dealing with authentic.'
Now, perhaps Obama should have chosen someone better to quote, but I can see how it would be possible to interpret what Kissinger said here the way he did. Certainly, last night the McCain campaign saw to it that they got Henry on the record right away saying, "Oh no no no! I don't agree with Obama at all!"

Still, what is the substantive difference here that John McCain is so adamant about? He seems almost obsessed with dreaming up bizarre scenarios about Obama meeting with Iran, Cuba, Venezuela and simply letting them dance on the American flag, piss on the carpet in the oval office, and then slap around lady liberty just for effect. But when we're done indulging this interest in dreaming up unrealistic pictures, what is left that matters? Anything???

More clarity comes from fact-checking the debate at ABC News:

"While it appears Kissinger and Senator Barack Obama disagree on what level those talks should occur, they do agree talks should begin, in Kissinger's words, 'at a very high level' and without preconditions.

During the debate, McCain said that Kissinger would not endorse Obama's position that he would meet on a presidential level with leaders of enemy countries. 'I guarantee you he would not say that,' McCain said of Kissinger.

Obama took issue with McCain's characterization of the former top diplomat's position, but just last week Kissinger said that, while he broadly agrees on the need to negotiate with Iran, he 'preferred doing it at the secretary of state level.'

When asked if high level talks with Iran should begin right out of the box, Kissinger replied 'Initially, yes.'

According to Obama's official website he supports 'direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions.'

On preconditions the two appear to agree. Last week Kissinger also said that 'I do not believe that we can make conditions for the opening of negotiations.'
Ok... so there we have it folks, the big deal is that Obama wants to talk to Iran's leaders himself rather than sending his Sec. of State? Got it. Beyond that, Kissinger and Obama are on the same page, and there you go.

R.I.P. Paul Newman

Just a quick little tribute post here to Paul Newman, film icon, business and corporate/nonprofit partnership pioneer. I'm a fan of his dressing, the core product that his food empire was built on, and like so many I'm a fan of may of his films (Cool Hand Luke, anyone??? Badassssss).

Meanwhile I'm also a huge fan of the way his food empire was structured to move all the post-tax profits to various charities. He got into the food industry on a whim, and took his success with a grain of salt in many ways, but when it came to the windfall from the enterprise he handled it all in a very classy and dynamic way. The Hole-in-the-Wall Gang Camps are a wonderful enterprise and his giving extends way beyond this particular charity. I would love to see this model take off and more brands out there offering high quality products with proceeds being poured into building a better world.


I tend to be pretty sympathetic to Obama's position on Iran. I am not really sure how meeting with a head of state would legitimize them. I don't think America's blessing is necessary for a tyrant to rule their country.

However, one of the stranger moments in the debate last night was Obama's insistence that Henry Kissinger publically agreed with him on the issue. It seems fairly obvious that Kissinger would not, if only because of his closeness with McCain. As it turns, out old Henry thinks McCain is right on the subject and Obama is wrong.

It's hardly earthshaking stuff. I suspect Kissinger is as pro-McCain as, say, Hollywood movie stars are pro-Obama. But, knowing this, why on earth would Obama bring it up? There must be other foriegn-policy stalwarts who agree with him. Why not drop their name? I think it must have been a calculation that Kissinger-- who is a household name-- would carry more weight with the average viewer and that this same viewer would not bother to check the facts. It would be interesting to see if this gets much attention.

I mentioned this to a conservative friend this morning who scoffed at the idea. "The media will never ask tough questions of Obama." I'm not sure about that. I think they have asked some pretty tough questions, although I will admit that theirs is a strong pro-Obama contingent. The NY Times in particular seems to have been much tougher on McCain's campain distortions than on Obama's. But I don't think anyone would argue that the Grey Lady doesn't have a horse in this race.

Watchmen: the Movie?

Until Matt mentioned it in the comments sections, I had no idea they were making a Watchmen movie. I checked it out very briefly and it could be good. They managed to avoid casting Keanu Reeves as Doctor Manhattan. Thank all that is holy for that.

This post is actually just my appeal to anyone who loves a good story to read the book before hand. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen demonstrated how Hollywood can take a complex, morally ambiguous story and turn it into an action film. Watchmen is truly a great story. It's a comic book, sure, and it does technically feature superheroes. But these superheroes are, well, grown men and woman without powers who dress up in funny costumes and beat people up. If it sounds like they must be pretty screwed up, it's because they are. The story works on many levels: as a fun adventure of some very strange people; as a commentary on American foreign policy during the 20th century; and as a demonstration of Kantian ethics versus utilitarianism. Oh yes, and it also has pirates. Lots and lots of pirates.