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A repository of random thoughts, odds and ends, and not-quite-fully-formed ideas.

Archive for October, 2008

False emails debunked


Maybe you’ve seen the email that insists Barack Obama was not born in the United States.


Or the one purportedly from a college professor who vacationed with the McCain family and tells hair raising stories of a rude, sexist McCain.


Now the Web site Politico takes a look at the most persistent of these red herrings. You can read all about it in “Cover this! Inside the nastiest ’08 rumors.”:http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1008/15106.html


Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., steps off the plane carrying a pumpkin at Midway Airport in Chicago Friday.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., speaks in New Philadelphia, Ohio, Friday. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, October 31st, 2008 at 6:17 pm |
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In Khalidi’s support


Barnett Rubin, a professor at New York University, stands with his friend Rashid Khalidi.

Khalidi, if you don’t know, is the Columbia professor whom the McCain is maligning as a neo-Nazi.

“But all this is beside the point,” Rubin writes. “I actually find it demeaning, insulting, and depressing to have to defend Rashid. I could say, I know him, he has been a guest in my home in New York and in my rented house in Provence, he bears absolutely no resemblance to the image these despicable people are trying to project of him, and lot’s more. I could point out that I am Jewish and have VISIBLE JEWISH ARTIFACTS IN MY HOME, which did not appear to alarm Rashid, if he even noticed them, but it is all just so ridiculous I don’t know what to say.”

More “here”:http://icga.blogspot.com/2008/10/rubin-my-friend-neo-nazi.html

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, October 30th, 2008 at 7:22 pm |
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More on Palin and sexism


John McCain has put out a series of statements from women in both parties castigating the Democrats for sexism.

The women — some former Hillary Clinton supporters, others McCain backers — are reacting to what McCain’s campaign calls “Barack Obama’s sexist attack ad ‘His Choice.'”

The ad ends with a shot of Sarah Palin winking.

Here are a few of the comments.

Amy Siskind, a prominent Hillary Clinton supporter from New York: “When Senator Hillary Clinton was demeaned and degraded during the presidential primary, many of us of, myself included, vowed ‘never again’. The treatment of Governor Palin by both the main stream media, and now the Obama campaign, shows that the misogyny fest is alive and well in our country. There has been a complete and utter smear job of our fellow citizen, Sarah Palin, who is only trying to serve her country.”

Stephanie Bressler, Ph.D, Hillary Clinton supporter, University of Scranton women and politics professor: “It’s a sexist example of reducing a woman to an object – a wink – and denying her a voice. Her lips are actually moving, but she’s not allowed to be heard.”

Shelly Mandell, president of Los Angeles chapter of the National Organization for Women: “I am outraged by the new ad put out by Barack Obama. It is sexist and demeaning to women. These tactics started with Hillary Clinton and continue, growing even more disgusting with Gov. Palin. I was a Hillstar for Hillary and an avid supporter. Trashing two women clearly in a sexist manner in one election is an outrage and must be identified and stopped. There must be consequences. Let female Obama supporters take a good look at this and still believe their candidate supports women’s rights and women’s dignity.”

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, October 30th, 2008 at 9:53 am |
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How smart is Palin?


The former editor in chief of Ms. magazine comes to Sarah Palin’s defense.
Palin, says Elaine Lafferty, is very smart.
Here’s how Lafferty, a Democrat, starts her article on The Daily Beast.

“It’s difficult not to froth when one reads, as I did again and again this week, doubts about Sarah Palin’s intelligence, coming especially from women such as PBS’s Bonnie Erbe, who, as near as I recall, has not herself heretofore been burdened with the Susan Sontag of Journalism moniker. As Fred Barnes — God help me, I’m agreeing with Fred Barnes — suggests in the Weekly Standard, these high toned and authoritative dismissals come from people who have never met or spoken with Sarah Palin. Those who know her, love her or hate her, offer no such criticism. They know what I know, and I learned it from spending just a little time traveling on the cramped campaign plane this week: Sarah Palin is very smart.

You can read the rest “here.”:http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2008-10-27/sarah-palins-a-brainiac/1/

She may be as smart as Lafferty says she is. But she doesn’t seem to know much about issues that matter in a race for the White House — at least judging from her own interviews.

PHOTO: Sarah Palin and Cindy McCain listen as McCain addresses supporters during a campaign rally in Hershey, Pa. on Oct. 28. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
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Obama at Hackley


Today I wrote about a speech that Barack Obama gave at the Hackley School in 1991.

He was a law student at Harvard, and was invited to the school as part of the Bruce C. Forbes Lecture Series. Bruce Forbes was an alumnus and the brother of Malcolm Forbes, who funded the series in his memory.

Obama spoke about change of course — partly in the context of the 1960s, which seems to have been a theme of the lecture series.

According to an account written by one of the students, he faulted the activists of the 1960s for believing change would happen would immediately.

Download the speech here.


The references to the 1960s are especially interesting when you think about the election. The country sometimes seems as if it is still fighting that decade’s battles; the ’60s are just below the surface — John McCain as a prisoner of war, the Iraq War as a stand-in for Vietnam, bringing troops home with honor. Even silly flaps about why Obama did not wear a flag pin.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 at 3:41 pm |

Our economic meltdown


What could be more appropriate?

NEW YORK (AP) The economy is melting literally.
On Wednesday, two artists installed a 1,500-pound ice sculpture carved to spell the word “Economy” in Manhattan’s financial district.
The “Main Street Meltdown” will remain in Foley Square until it melts — about 24 hours. The backdrop to the sculpture — the wide stairs and row of pillars fronting the state Supreme Court building — is instantly recognizable to millions of viewers of TV’s “Law & Order.”
“To see the word ‘economy’ melting down is representational of an extreme time,” artists Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese said on their Web site.
The artists said the sculpture, which is 5 feet tall, 15 feet wide and sits on a pedestal, was installed on Oct. 29 because it is the 79th anniversary of the day in 1929 when the stock market crashed, precipitating the Great Depression.
Earlier this month, painter and printmaker Laura Gilbert stood outside the New York Stock Exchange and passed out signed and numbered prints of her “Zero Dollar,” which looks like a dollar bill except it has a zero in the place of a one.
She said the artwork was a statement about “the destructive role of many financial institutions, inflation and the decline of U.S. currency to the point of seeming worthlessness.”
Another artist, Geoffrey Raymond, also has drawn attention for his work related to the ongoing economic crisis. Raymond paints large portraits of powerful executives — subjects have included former Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld and Bear Stearns’ ex-chairman James Cayne — sets them up on the sidewalk and invites the public to scrawl remarks.
“Economy” is the fourth in a series of political ice sculptures Ligorano and Reese have created. Earlier this year, they carved blocks into the word “Democracy” and allowed them to melt during the Republican and Democratic conventions.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Wednesday, October 29th, 2008 at 1:41 pm |
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Children’s Health Study


Two years I wrote about Dr. Philip Landrigan, the chairman of community and preventative medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in Manhattan.

Landrigan argued the need to fund a broad study of children’s health that would track children from before birth until the age of 21. The cost: $2.7 billion.

The National Children’s Study will begin to pregnant women in January and will look at premature births, childhood obesity, cancer, autism and other disorders.

The New York Times offers an “update”:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/28/health/research/28chil.html?_r=1&ref=health&oref=slogin today.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 at 6:41 pm |
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Race in the race


A new national poll finds that seven out of 10 Americans say race will not be a factor in how they vote in the presidential election.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. Survey was released Friday.


Only 5 percent said race would be the single most important factor in the pick. Thirteen percent said race would be a minor factor.

More here at “CNN.”:http://www.cnn.com/POLITICS/

PHOTO: “U.S Election Obama/McCain” by Chinese artist Yan Pei-Ming, at the Fiac 2008, International Contemporary Art Fair, in Paris. From AP/Jacques Brinon

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, October 24th, 2008 at 8:21 pm |
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Goodbye to swift-boating


One of the puzzles of this presidential campaign is what happened to swift-boating. Whatever you thought of the technique, it just hasn’t had the same wallop this time around.
The Nation looks at the topic in this “article”:http://www.thenation.com/doc/20081110/berman called “Swiftboat Blues.”
Here’s a mention of President Bush’s former press secretary Ari Fleischer, who grew up in Pound Ridge.

“The broader implosion of the conservative movement also helps account for the impotence of these groups. Take the example of Freedom’s Watch, founded with great fanfare last year by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and advised by Bush White House veterans like Ari Fleischer and Karl Rove. Though projected to spend $200 million, the group was beset by infighting and spent less than $40,000 between May and September. Freedom’s Watch has been MIA during the presidential election.”
I’m on the look-out for other articles on the subject. I’m curious to know what more conservative commentators think.

PHOTO: Ari Fleischer talks with reporters during the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation golf outing at Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor July 14, 2008. (Stuart Bayer / The Journal News)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, October 23rd, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
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The Purple Walk


Another post about pancreatic cancer.

A reader from White Plains, June Burke, wrote to say she has organized a walk to raise money for research. She is working with the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network based in El Segundo, Calif.

You can find out more about PanCan “here.”:http://www.pancan.org It says it raises money for direct private funding of research—and advocates for more aggressive federal research funding of medical breakthroughs in prevention, diagnosis and treatment of pancreatic cancer.

“This past July, I became aware of a terrible disease that has affected so many lives, pancreatic cancer,” Burke wrote in a letter Our Lady of Sorrow School. “Mrs. (Fran) Holt, the Spanish teacher at Our Lady of Sorrows School, was diagnosed with metatastic pancreatic cancer. At the same time, I had just finished reading “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch, who has since passed away at the age of 47. Within another month, Mr. (Richard) Biondi, a great figure in the city of White Plains for many years, also passed away from this horrible illness.

“I thought this would be a great cause for my daughter, currently an eighth grader, to get involved in to earn community service hours. I looked locally and found nothing here in Westchester benefiting this cause.

“Pancreatic cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer death in the United States. There is no method of early detection for pancreatic cancer.

“This year an estimated 37,680 Americans will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and 34,290 will die from this disease. From a scientific research perspective, pancreatic cancer is where breast cancer was in the 1930’s.

“Despite these statistics, pancreatic cancer research constitutes less than 2 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s federal research funding.”

The walk in White Plains will take place on Saturday, Nov. 8. It is being called “The 1st Annual Purple Walk White Plains.” It will begin with registration at 8 am at Our Lady Of Sorrows School on Mamaroneck Avenue; participants will walk to Stepinac High School and around the track beginning at 9 a.m.

More information? Contact Burke at kjbcoda@msn.com.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Tuesday, October 21st, 2008 at 7:52 pm |
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About the author
Noreen O'DonnellNoreen O'Donnell For the last 20 years, Noreen O'Donnell has written about Hillary Clinton's run for the Senate, rebuilding Ground Zero, the Korean immigrants who travel north each day from Queens to work in nail salons, deadly runaway fire trucks and other stories in Westchester and Putnam counties. Now she's a columnist.

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